FACT CHECK: Did Patrick Henry Say The US Was Founded On Christianity?

Trevor Schakohl | Fact Check Reporter

A post shared on Facebook claims that founding father Patrick Henry said, “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.”

Verdict: False

There is no evidence that Henry authored this statement. It actually comes from a 1956 article mentioning his Christian faith, published in “The Virginian” magazine.

Fact Check:

Henry is most famous for his influential 1775 speech in which he urged Virginians to prepare for war with Great Britain, allegedly declaring, “Give me liberty or give me death!” He served five terms as governor of Virginia, from 1776 to 1779 and again from 1784 to 1786.

Contrary to the claims of the Facebook post, Henry was not a ratifier of the U.S. Constitution. He refused to attend the 1787 Constitutional Convention and strongly opposed the document’s ratification, believing that it insufficiently protected individual and states’ rights. (RELATED: Did Patrick Henry Say The Constitution ‘Is An Instrument For The People To Restrain The Government’?)

In addition, Henry did not author the statement attributed to him in the post. “This is a perplexing case because Henry certainly was a devout Christian, but the quotation itself is of relatively recent origin,” Baylor University historian and Henry expert Thomas Kidd wrote in a 2012 article for HuffPost.

The statement actually comes from an article mentioning Henry’s Christian faith, published in the April 1956 issue of “The Virginian” magazine. The Library of Virginia provided The Daily Caller with a copy of this article.

A portion of a commentary on the Christian faith of Patrick Henry in"The Virginian" magazine, April 1956. Courtesy of The Library of Virginia.

An excerpt noting the Christian faith of Patrick Henry in “The Virginian” magazine, April 1956. Courtesy of the Library of Virginia.

The article quotes Henry’s will, which in one part states, “This is all the Inheritance I can give to my dear family, The religion of Christ can give them one which will make them rich indeed.”

Henry died in 1799 at his home, Virginia’s Red Hill plantation.

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Trevor Schakohl

Fact Check Reporter
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