- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 31, 2005

Patrick Henry hasn’t gotten this much attention since the 18th century.

Virginia’s inauguration festivities next month will include a re-enactment of Henry’s “Give me liberty or give me death!” speech before Gov.-elect Timothy M. Kaine, Lt. Gov.-elect William T. Bolling and Attorney General-elect Robert F. McDonnell take their oaths of office in historic Williamsburg, where Henry was sworn in as Virginia’s first governor in 1776.

Mr. Bolling on Jan. 13 will host the re-enactment at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, where Henry in 1775 delivered the famed rallying words leading to the Revolutionary War.

Inaugurations traditionally are held at the state Capitol in Richmond, but the event was moved to Williamsburg this year because of renovations. Henry and Thomas Jefferson, Virginia’s second governor, were the only other chief executives inaugurated in Williamsburg.

The 140-member General Assembly will convene Jan. 14 at the re-created Colonial Capitol to witness the oaths of Mr. Kaine, a Democrat, and Mr. Bolling and Mr. McDonnell, both Republicans.

Mr. Kaine has said the move to Williamsburg, which served as the Colonial-era capital from 1699 to 1780, also will help promote the state’s Jamestown 2007, its 400th anniversary celebration.

Mr. Bolling wanted to host the Henry re-enactment as an extra treat for donors and volunteers, said spokesman Randy Marcus. A state senator from Hanover County, Mr. Bolling has said he also feels a special connection with Henry, who was a state delegate from Hanover when he attended the 2nd Virginia Convention in 1775.

“We’re playing off the history theme, giving people something a little bit neat and different from the traditional balls and dinners,” Mr. Marcus said.

Henry called for the formation of a regulated militia during the convention and delivered the famous speech that ended with: “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

St. John’s, built in 1741, is the oldest church in Richmond. The Virginia Patriots, a group of actors, regularly does re-enactments at St. John’s near the March 23 anniversary of the speech and on Sundays during the summer.

The group also does private re-enactments for up to 400 people, at a cost of $700. Among the cast of characters, dressed in period costumes, are George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

Rita Bagby, program director for the church’s Patrick Henry Committee, said the 40-minute performance is interactive with the audience, allowing them to vote as “delegates” to the Virginia Convention.

“The script has been carefully researched,” she said.

She noted it’s appropriate for Mr. Bolling and others to “reach back into our history and see how things went in times past, especially because it marked the beginning of our nation.”

Former Gov. James S. Gilmore III visited St. John’s for a Henry re-enactment during his inaugural celebration in 1998.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide