On March 23, 1775, Patrick Henry, a 38-year-old lawyer and politician, stood before 128 delegates who had convened in a special convention to discuss strategy in negotiating with the British Crown over taxation policy. The fiery Patrick Henry had been one of the fiercest critics of British taxation schemes beginning with the Stamp Act controversy in 1765.
Henry flirted with treason when he called for the formation of Virginia militias to resist the Crown. He had just returned as a delegate from the Continental Congress, a meeting of colonial opposition to the British colonial policy. He declared before his fellow Virginians, “The distinctions between Virginians, Pennsylvanians, New Yorkers, and New Englanders are no more. I am not a Virginian. I am an American.”