On March 23, 1775, toward the end of his famous speech, Henry dramatically cried out, “Give me liberty or give me death!”

Then, seemingly holding a dagger in his upraised hand, he plunged it downward into his heart and slumped forward. The delegates were “spellbound.” This dramatic and compelling speech was credited with gaining sufficient votes to establish a Virginia militia. Less than a month later, the first shots of the revolution were fired on April 19, 1775, bringing Virginia into the war. The American Revolution would last eight years, 1775–1783. The colonies would emerge as the free and independent United States of America.