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Patrick Henry letters

 Collection — Folder: S638
Identifier: S0638

Scope and Contents

This collection includes 3 facsimiles of secret orders given to George Rogers Clark from Patrick Henry, dated January 2, 1778, authorizing the attack on British posts at Kaskaskia and Vincennes during the American Revolutionary War. Also included is a letter dated December 8, 1778, written by Patrick Henry to Col. John Gibson regarding Gibson's request for clothing for his regiment given to Henry by a Captain Bell.


  • 1778


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Biographical Note

George Rogers Clark was born on November 19,1752 in Albermarle County, Virginia to John and Anne Rogers Clark. George was taught surveying by his grandfather and at the age of 20 he set out for the West. In 1776 he was one of the settlers from Kentucky selected to return to Virignia to seek recognition as a county and protection against Indian attacks. The next year he was commissioned as a Lieutenant Colonel and given the authority to raise a force of men to defend the Kentucky settlements. In the summer of 1778, Clark and his men took control of British posts at Kaskaskia and Cahokia without a shot being fired. In February 1779, Clark took control of Fort Sackville at Vincennes. Clark continued to lead men in battle until the end of the Revolutionary War in 1783. He died at the age of 66 on February 13, 1818. Sources:

"George Rogers Clark: American Military Leader and Explorer." Encyclopedia Britannica. Accessed September 23, 2015. "George Rogers Clark Biography." Indiana Historical Bureau. Accessed September 23, 2015.

National Park Service. "History & Culture." George Rogers Clark National Historical Park. Accessed September 23, 2015.

Biographical Note

Patrick Henry was born at Studley, Hanover County, Virginia on May 29, 1736 to John and Sarah Winston Syme Henry. As a young man he unsuccessfully worked as a planter and storekeeper, but around 1760 he decided to become a lawyer. Though self-taught, he was admitted to the bar and had a thriving practice serving Hanover and surrounding counties. He won a seat in the House of Burgesses in 1765 and became the first elected governor of Virginia in 1776. His speech at the Second Virginia Convention at St. John's Church in Richmond, Virginia on March 23, 1775 ended with the words, "Give me liberty, or give me death!", and helped ignite the American Revolution.

When Patrick Henry was only 18 years old he married Sarah Shelton (1738-1775) in 1754. They had 6 children before Sarah died in 1775. In 1777 he married Dorothea Dandridge (1757-1831) and they had 11 children. Patrick Henry died at his home, Red Hill, in Virginia on June 6, 1999.


"Biography of Patrick Henry." Red Hill Patrick Henry National Memorial. Accessed September 22, 2015.

"Explore the History." St. John's Church Foundation. Accessed September 23, 2015. "Patrick Henry." Find a Grave. Accessed September 23, 2015.


0.01 Cubic Feet (1 folder)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged chronologically.

Custodial History

This collection was received as a donation.


No further additions are expected.

Existence and Location of Copies

Digital reproductions of the Patrick Henry letters are available electronically in Indiana Memory:

Related Archival Material

Material relating to this collection may be found on the Indiana Historical Bureau website:

Letter of Instruction from Governor Patrick Henry of Virginia to George Rogers Clark

Processing Information

Collection processing completed 2015/09/24 by Laura Eliason. EAD finding aid created 2015/09/24 by Laura Eliason.
Patrick Henry letters
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Repository

140 North Senate Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204 U.S.A.