Patrick Henry’s Crazy Wife in the Basement

Patrick Henry

My boy is doing a school report on Patrick Henry. Something I didn’t know about Patrick Henry is that his wife went insane in 1771 and was subsequently kept in a straitjacket in the basement of the family home.

This throws a whole new light on the “Give me liberty or give me death” speech. There’s even a novel that suggests the phrase was first spoken by Henry’s wife!

My first thought was: As the husband of an insane person myself, I can tell you that it stirs up a whirlwind of things in your mind, including the sense that there are in fact fates worse than death.

And my second thought was: I wish these darn California houses had a basement . . .

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