Another famous quote by Patrick Henry during his dramatic speech to the House of Burgess on May 30, 1765. The back of the t-shirt reads the rallying cry, “No taxation without representation.”
“If this be treason, make the most of it.”
In spring of 1765, the recently passed Stamp Act was the prime topic of political conversation in the American colonies. In Virginia, the current session of The House of Burgesses was drawing to a close. Patrick Henry, elected to fill a vacant seat less than two weeks before, celebrated his 29 birthday on May 29th by offering a series of resolutions (Henry's Stamp Act Resolves) related to the current crisis.
- Colonists brought with them their British rights at the time of emigration.
- Those rights had been twice confirmed in Virginia's royal charters.
- The right to be taxed by one’s own representatives was one of the most basic of British liberties.
Henry then surprised many by including an additional idea that provided a direct challenge to Parliament's authority.
- Only colonial assemblies had the right to impose taxes on their people and that right could not be assigned to any other body.
On May 30th, Henry gave his first speech to the assembly and defended his resolutions. He expanded his criticism not only to Parliament, but to the king as well. Speaking of George III, he stated that, “Caesar had his Brutus, Charles had his Cromwell, and George the Third has his ...”. At that point he was interrupted by cries of “Treason!” from the delegates who easily recognized the reference to assassinated leaders. Henry paused for a moment and then calmly finished his sentence: “...may profit by their example.”
"If this be treason, make the most of it".