PATRICK HENRY: A FORGOTTEN LEGACY John Ragosta, author of Patrick Henry: Proclaiming a Revolution, had a successful legal career in Washington D.C. before returning to the University of Virginia for his PhD. He has taught history at Oberlin, Hamilton, Randolph College, and UVa. and will give the opening talk for the spring 2018 semester at Virginia Foundation for the Humanities on January 23 at noon.
At VFH, Ragosta will speak to why Patrick Henry’s legacy has been largely forgotten or, more accurately, suppressed. While Henry is remembered as a great orator and firebrand, this fails to do justice to his role in launching the American Revolution as well as his critical role as the leading antifederalist in opposition to the U.S. Constitution and in support of a Bill of Rights. In 1799, Henry came out of retirement to oppose Thomas Jefferson’s radical states’ rights agenda; had Henry lived, Jefferson almost certainly would not have been elected president. Instead, with Henry’s premature death, Jefferson and his supporters spent decades denigrating his memory.
Peter Onuf, BackStory History Guy emeritus and Thomas Jefferson Professor of History emeritus at UVa., has called Ragosta’s latest book“the best short biography we have of a much misunderstood patriot, too often overshadowed by the brilliance of his own electrifying oratory. John Ragosta’s elegant and judicious account of Henry’s career as a statesman and lawyer restores the great Revolutionary to his proper place in the American pantheon.”