Chevron Left
Back to Patrick Henry: Forgotten Founder

Learner Reviews & Feedback for Patrick Henry: Forgotten Founder by University of Virginia

57 ratings
24 reviews

About the Course

“Give me liberty, or give me death:” Remembering Patrick Henry, the Forgotten Founder Patrick Henry was enormously popular during the American Revolution. Even Thomas Jefferson, who over time developed a deep loathing of Henry (some would say jealousy), had to admit that “it is not now easy to say what we should have done without Patrick Henry.” Edmund Randolph, a patriot leader in his own right, explained that “It was Patrick Henry … awakening the genius of his country, and binding a band of patriots together to hurl defiance at the tyranny of so formidable a nation as Great Britain.” Yet, today, Patrick Henry is ill-remembered; most Americans might recall at best perhaps a snippet from a famous speech: “give me liberty, or give me death.” The reasons for our historic forgetfulness are several: after the Revolution, Henry chose to oppose ratification of the U.S. Constitution, believing that it created a distant and too-powerful government, and he refused proffered position in George Washington’s administration, diminishing his historic memory. Equally important, Henry died in 1799 shortly after a political campaign in which, at Washington’s behest, he opposed Jefferson’s and James Madison’s ill-advised radical states’ rights attack on the U.S. government, and Jefferson spent the next twenty-six years systematically attacking Henry’s legacy. Patrick Henry, who helped to ignite a revolution, deserves better. This course will explore how he over¬came challenges to reach the pinnacle of Virginia politics and unite Americans behind a challenge to Britain – the eighteenth century’s super-power, why he opposed the U.S. Constitu¬tion, and why he then came out of retirement to defend the people’s Constitution against the attacks of Jefferson and Madison. Participants should evaluate Henry’s role in proclaiming a revolution and consider whether he had an equally important role in saving it. The course should also develop an improved appreciation for the complex political, economic, and religious forces that shaped the early republic. As a biographical course, it also demonstrates how personalities play an important role in even the most foundational national history. Image Attribution: The background image for this webpage is Patrick Henry before the Virginia House of Burgesses by Peter F. Rothermel (1851) with special thanks to the owner, the Patrick Henry Memorial Foundation. The painting of Patrick Henry's 1765 "Caesar had his Brutus" speech (discussed in the second lecture) is entirely romanticized -- neither Henry nor the House of Burgesses looked at all like this -- but it does show that hagiography of Henry, almost god-like veneration, began shortly after this death....

Top reviews


Jul 01, 2019

Excellent course for anyone interested in American History. Enjoyable lectures. Loved that some of the lectures were filmed at the actual location. Easy to understand. Highly recommend.


Jul 07, 2017

I really enjoyed the course. It was well presented and easy to follow. I would recommend it to anyone who may have an interest in the people who founded our great country.

Filter by:

1 - 24 of 24 Reviews for Patrick Henry: Forgotten Founder

By Christie E

Dec 13, 2018

This was my first Coursera class and I really enjoyed learning about this American founder that I knew nothing about other than a few lines from his famous speeches. The lectures are fast paced and very informative. I was taking notes furiously. The professor is well-spoken and very knowledgeable and even fond of his subject, yet still objective. This is a great platform to offer this kind of a class on and I look forward to seeing other classes on Founding Fathers, or from this professor.

By patrick h

Dec 20, 2018

very informative. Not a detailed presentation but certainly one which inspires a closer and more thorough look into the role of Henry in American History.

By racheal h

Mar 09, 2019

Interesting life our Patrick Henry. I thank you all for the Videos, the prof enthusiasm and readings, It was good to be able to understand where these founders came from, how they developed into the men of the Constitution. I extended my reading to Patrick Henry by Moses Colt Tyler which I found enjoyable.

By Frank L

Nov 03, 2018

I really enjoyed taking this class. I learned many new facts about the American revolution, and early America, with a better understanding of Patrick Henry. I enjoyed how John A. Ragosta presented Patrick Henry in his life and times.

By Zoe G

Aug 05, 2018

Great material and teacher!

By James B N

Jul 22, 2017

Very interesting course presented in a way that motivates the student to delve further into the subject.

Great fun!!!

By Hilde K

Jul 10, 2017

There's so much to learn and it is presented in such an engaging manner. It made me want to go out and learn more about Patrick Henry.

By Robert B

Jan 30, 2018

One of the best history classes from Coursera.

By Adam L

Aug 07, 2017

Learned a lot about a founding father that I had little knowledge of before.

By Michael P C

Jul 04, 2018

Tremendous knowledge of Henry's contributions to America and Vriginia with specific attributions from his life. Tremendous tension between the need for Federal government and personal Liberty and between Henry and Jefferson. More readings should be required.

By Pat M

May 19, 2018

Week three editing is too redundant. The professor is outstanding. I am proud to ask for the right to say i have a certificate from this great scholar.Thanks fro holding the course. I learned every minute of it.


Jul 05, 2017

Interesting class regarding one of the real founders of this country. Thanks so much!

By Tanmay S

Apr 26, 2018

Professor Ragosta has done an excellent job of condensing a complex and very significant man and his invaluable contribution in a series of four short and very easy to follow lectures. I mentioned at the beginning of the course that I am a beginner in relation to the American Revolution and American history, but Prof. Ragosta's course has vastly improved my knowledge not just of Mr. Henry's contribution, but also of the facts and values of the American Revolution.

I thank the University of Virginia, the Patrick Henry Memorial Foundation for their resources and Prof. Ragosta for his time and his willingness to share his vast knowledge on the subject.

By Kim T

Jul 24, 2017

Who was Patrick Henry? To most Americans today, more a sloganeer ("Give me liberty or give me death") than anything. If you're comfortable with that one-dimensional view of a three-dimensional player in the early history of our nation, this class is not for you. Otherwise, leap in...

By Suzan H

Sep 06, 2017

Well presented. Little known facts about the life and political aspects of Patrick Henry made to keep a learner interested. Thank you.

By charles e m

Jul 07, 2017

I really enjoyed the course. It was well presented and easy to follow. I would recommend it to anyone who may have an interest in the people who founded our great country.

By Joseph B

Aug 04, 2017

John Ragosta brilliantly sheds light on this critical forgotten founding father.

By Matthew L

Aug 19, 2017

Very interesting and informative.

By Sharon S

Apr 03, 2018

Excellent course, most interesting instructor.

By 周鄭州

May 02, 2019


By Marek D

Jun 17, 2019

Prof John Ragosta is a great teacher. :)

By Jamie P

Jun 20, 2019

I already knew a lot about Mr. Henry but with this course I learned so much more.

By Thomas B

Jun 21, 2019

Awesome presentation and biography of Patrick Henry. I was always impressed with Henry but now I rank him even higher. I was not disappointed and the only regret is that I will never be able to hear Patrick Henry give is "Liberty or Death" speech

By Liz M

Jul 01, 2019

Excellent course for anyone interested in American History. Enjoyable lectures. Loved that some of the lectures were filmed at the actual location. Easy to understand. Highly recommend.