Thursday, May 28, 2009

Patrick Henry: Fatherhood Personified

Patrick Henry is famous for his eloquent statesmanship, a powerful force in the founding of our nation. His “give me liberty or give me death” speech is one of the best known in American history; his fiery oratory was one of the factors God used to fan the flames of liberty.

But Henry was more than a zealot for freedom. He understood his God-given responsibilities as a father and strove to fulfill them with excellence. Indeed, as the father of seventeen children and grandfather of seventy, some have humorously suggested that he, not George Washington, should be considered the father of our country!

Beyond the bearing of sons and daughters, Patrick Henry took upon himself the task of preparing them for life and eternity to come. It was his habit to devote Sunday evenings to a time of family worship. He would read portions from the Bible or favorite sermons, along with accompanying the family in singing sacred music as he played the violin.

Henry served as the principal teacher for his school-age children, inspiring them to learn and apply themselves for life. He further tutored his sons in law, one of them becoming a lawyer like himself while another served as a county sheriff.

Beyond academics, he counseled his children for marital success: “My Dear Daughter: You have just entered into that state which is replete with happiness or misery. The issue depends upon that prudent, amiable, uniform conduct which wisdom and virtue so strongly recommend on the one hand, or on that imprudence which a want of reflection or passion may prompt on the other.”

Patrick Henry knew that a stable society must rest upon the foundation of strong homes. He sought to lead by example, understanding that the authority a man “exercised within the larger society was rooted in the authority exercised at home.”

There is a dearth of engaged fathers today. As you celebrate Father’s Day 2009, be inspired by the actions of Patrick Henry.

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