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Patrick Henry’s “Thunder Speech”
August 23rd, 2014 - (0 Comments)

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Thomas Jefferson said Patrick Henry “got the ball of revolution rolling.” Henry was five times elected governor of colonial Virginia, but it was his ability to electrify an audience that made him the idol of the common people. Historian John Ragosta (Robert C. Vaughan Fellow at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities) is writing a book about this extraordinary orator. Plus: Before Patrick Henry died, he credited a Presbyterian minister named Samuel Davies with “teaching me what an orator should be.” With Good Reason producer Kelley Libby finds the story of Davies at a “ghost church” on a stretch of rural road. Also: Two hundred years ago this week the British burned Washington in the War of 1812. The man in the White House at that time was our nation’s fourth president, James Madison. Andrew Burstein (Louisiana State University) says Madison was an intensely political man, but he wasn’t slippery—you knew where you stood with him. Burstein and Ragosta were keynote speakers at UVa’s Summer Jefferson Symposium.

jeffersonLater in the show: In his most recent book Master of the Mountain: Thomas Jefferson and his Slaves, Henry Wiencek (Virginia Foundation for the Humanities Fellow) creates a portrait of the founding father that challenges the long-held perception of Thomas Jefferson as a benevolent slaveholder. Also featured: In her biography of Thomas Jefferson’s daughter, Martha Jefferson Randolph, Daughter of Monticello: Her Life and Times, Cynthia Kierner (George Mason University) says the nation’s first daughter of its third president lived a full life that reveals the privileges and limits of celebrity. The biography offers a unique look at American history from the perspective of this intelligent, tactfully assertive woman.

Before the great speech maker Patrick Henry died, he credited a Presbyterian minister named Samuel Davies with “teaching me what an orator should be.” Kelley Libby finds the story of Davies at a “ghost church” on a stretch of rural road.