Before Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence in 1776, he attended the Second Virginia Convention at St. John’s Church in Richmond a year earlier. Alongside George Washington, Richard Henry Lee and other important figures in the American Revolution, Jefferson listened as Patrick Henry gave his now-famous “Give me liberty or give me death” speech.
The speech ignited the American Revolution, making St. John’s a must-see landmark for anyone interested in the universal struggle for human rights. Henry’s works not only articulated the concept of liberty as an essential right –a philosophy drawn from the writings of Enlightenment scholars- but also inspired support during a critical turning point in uniting the colonies against British rule.
Visitors can relive the excitement of Henry’s speech at this National Historic Landmark via live reenactments. They can also explore the city’s first public cemetery, the final resting place of many important figures in American history including George Wythe (signer of the Declaration of Independence), and Elizabeth Arnold Poe, mother of Edgar Allan Poe.
Located in Richmond’s oldest standing neighborhood, Church Hill, the c. 1741 church also features a permanent exhibit that delve into the area’s history, including events leading to the war. There’s perhaps no better place to get a taste of the revolutionary spirit that forever altered the course of the nation.