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

103 ratings
53 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.


Apr 06, 2020

This was a wonderful course! Dr. Ragosta was knowledgable, and his lectures interesting and engaging. This course should be required viewing for anyone studying American history!

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1 - 25 of 53 Reviews for Patrick Henry: Forgotten Founder

By Anujay S

Aug 01, 2020

As a law graduate and student of comparative constitutional law & studies from outside USA, I found this an extremely interesting and beneficial course. Prof. Ragosta has put exceptional efforts into defining Henry’s personal life, family, education, legal career, political life and ideals. Moreover, he has also cleared certain misconceptions about Henry in great length, including the tarnishing of his image in certain areas.

I do have few fundamental disagreements on: [1.] Henry’s views towards Slavery (I didn’t feel that Henry was against slavery at all), [2.] Rivalry between Jefferson and Henry (I don’t feel that the collective evidence presented is sufficient to state that Jefferson was hell-bent on tarnishing Henry’s legacy) and [3.] I don’t feel that Henry understood Jefferson and Madison’s concerns about the excessive over-regulation, discrimination and tyranny in Adam’s regime, although it was pointed out that Henry was strongly influenced by the French Revolution and the view on ‘anarchy’ towards the end of his life.

Nonetheless, I strongly recommend this course to anyone. Kudos to Prof. Ragosta for putting exceptional efforts, his knowledge, sense of humour and captivating lectures.

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 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 Michael 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 Michael J

Jan 08, 2020

Excellent course and instructor! I thought I was pretty knowledgeable about the Revolutionary War period (as a layperson), having taken a lot of courses and done a great deal of reading over the years. I quickly realized I had sort of lost track of Patrick Henry after his "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death" speech. I am pleasantly embarrassed to say that I hardly knew anything about Patrick Henry. Dr. Ragosta made this course a "page turner" for me. I couldn't wait to move on to learn more. That's the highest compliment to the instructor and the way the course is constructed. I've ordered Dr. Ragosta's book about P.H. and hope to take more courses from this instructor. It also reawakened in me the idea of taking a trip to the Patrick Henry -- and other Revolutionary War figures -- sites and sights. I haven't been back since I was a kid. Thank you for this course and all the research and insights!

By maureen H

Mar 25, 2020

Very well presented. I learned a great deal and am looking forward to learning more (always the mark of a great instructor). The concept of loyal opposition (i.e., "I am an American" is extraordinarily relevant today. I have been asked to write a column for our local rag about how to cope during this pandemic and suggested that people enroll in this course!

By Christine N

Sep 02, 2020

I loved this course. Learning about one of the Founding Fathers I did not know well, and learning how important he was in the Revolution and beyond. His ability to unify and inspire was amazing, as was his ability to understand what the ramifications of decisions could mean for the country . I recommend this course to anyone who loves 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 Kelly B

Jan 13, 2020

I thoroughly enjoyed this course and learning about Patrick Henry. Patrick Henry made immeasurable contributions to the United States, which regretfully have been overlooked and flat out forgotten. This course was interesting and did Patrick Henry the justice and recognition he deserved.

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 Mary K C

Apr 07, 2020

I thoroughly enjoyed this course! I only knew the bare minimum about Patrick Henry other a few quotes. I must say it opened my eyes to some of the pettiness of Jefferson's character. I enjoyed John Ragota teaching still and would love to take another course offered by him.

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 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 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.

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.

By Hope H

Apr 06, 2020

This was a wonderful course! Dr. Ragosta was knowledgable, and his lectures interesting and engaging. This course should be required viewing for anyone studying American history!

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 Mike B

May 23, 2020

I learned more than I expected about Patrick Henry. The lecturer of this program did a great job spelling out Henry's life from beginning to end with great detail.

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 Amadeus W

Mar 05, 2020

还是写一下中文的评论供汉语运用者参考一下吧。这门课的老师人很和蔼,课程绝大多数都是视频,然后除第一周外每周测试12道题。可能毕竟是人文类的课程很难要求学生们完成什么作业吧,就我个人而言觉得老师讲的很有意思,是顺着Patrick Henry的一生讲下来的,想要了解美国大革命的同学可以试着听一听这个课程。

By Mary L

Apr 14, 2020

I truly enjoyed learning more about Patrick Henry. The course was educational and the professor's knowledge and passion of Patrick Henry was evident.

By Sarah W

May 01, 2020

A very informative and easy to enjoy lecture on a forgotten founding father. Dr. Ragosta's enthusiasm and knowledge of his subject are infectious.

By Jennifer E

Nov 07, 2019

This course was excellent! I learned so much about this patriot that I didn't know before! I was so inspired by it, I went to Red Hill this summer!

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 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.