Thursday, May 22, 2008

Family Connections

I learned this week that I am a direct descendant of Patrick Henry. My half brother and his wife were visiting from Rhode Island this week, and they shared with us some of their genealogy discoveries. They knew that Patrick Henry’s name had shown up in my father’s lineage, but weren’t sure how he fit in. With their laptop handy, they dug into their vast family files to determine the exact relationship. It turns out that through my father’s mother, the maternal lineage goes to Martha Henry Fontaine, the daughter of Patrick Henry. He’s my seventh-great grandfather.

I have always been inspired by PH, with his “Give me liberty or give me death,” speech. He seems like a maverick, boldly doing what he believed to be right, not swayed by public opinion. He was not satisfied with the status quo. He was a great advocate for freedom. He also seems like a man of significant spiritual conviction.

Now I feel the need to study this figure in American history and learn from his legacy. I’m sure that there are flaws in his life as well as moments of greatness. It will be a learning experience for me, because I can let his life give insights into my own soul. When I read about any historical figures, I always try to learn about myself – my flaws, opportunities and potential. But with PH, it now seems much more personal.