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Governor-elect McDonnell sides with Patrick Henry on question of liberty

RICHMOND, March 1775 -- Robert F. McDonnell, the soon-to-be 71st governor of the commonwealth of Virginia, threw in his lot with traitors to the English crown yesterday, just moments after fellow Virginian patriot Patrick Henry delivered a rousing speech that concluded: "I know not what others may do. But as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"

Republican governor-elect McDonnell voted for Henry's fiery resolution to put the colony of Virginia into a state of military readiness.


McDonnell, 55, just hours from taking the oath of office, also donned a tricorner hat, hefted a walking stick and struck an elegant colonial pose with his best foot forward--much to the delight of the American Revolution reenactors and perhaps to the greater delight of photographers and news crews eager for color on the eve of his inauguration.

It was a light-hearted moment on Friday afternoon following a stirring reenactment of Patrick Henry's best-known speech at St. John's Church in Richmond.

McDonnell attended the event with his two Republican running mates -- Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and Attorney General-elect Ken Cuccinelli, who sported a "Don't Tread on Me" button -- and many family members, including his wife Maureen and five children.

Cuccinelli, who has already discussed his interest in using his office to push back against overweening federal encroachments, told the crowd that Henry was one of his poltical role models. The former state senator said Henry understood that his acts could be viewed as treasonous, for which he could pay with his life, and yet proceeded without hesitation.

"What I admire about Patrick Henry is, frankly, his moral courage," Cuccinelli said.
Sitting between his wife Maureen and Col. George Washington, McDonnell listened as costumed reenactors with the Patrick Henry Committee recreated part of the debate that occurred during the Second Virginia Convention in March 1775.

By then, tea had been tossed into Boston Harbor, Rhode Islanders had burned a British tax-enforcement ship, and the American colonists were already in open rebellion against onerous decrees of the British Parliament. Henry urged support for a resolution to arm the Virginia militia and put it in a state of readiness for its defense, while other delegates warned that the move would be seen as tantamount to declaration of war.

Bolling, who noted that he and Henry were both natives of Hanover County, said his favorite line of Henry's speech was not its most famous, but rather this one:
"I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience."

McDonnell said he had attended the event before his own inauguration as Attorney General. He also said that the budgetary problems he faces after taking office at noon tomorrow pale in comparison with Henry's on the eve of war between a tiny colony and a world power. "Now I would call that a real challenge," McDonnell said.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  January 15, 2010; 4:27 PM ET
Categories:  Bill Bolling , Fredrick Kunkle , Ken Cuccinelli , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Next: McDonnell names Hazel health secretary


What would Patrick Henry have said about the way corporate interests influence government decisions?

Posted by: Marcaurelius | January 16, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

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