Patrick Henry Argues the Parsons' Cause
Original Author: George Cooke
Created: ca. 1834
Medium: Oil on canvas
Publisher: Virginia Historical Society

Patrick Henry Argues the Parsons’ Cause

A map of Virginia hangs on the wall of the Hanover Court House, where Patrick Henry is shown arguing in the lawsuit known as the Parsons' Cause in December 1763. Henry's political career took wing after he made a passionate speech against the Crown, which had disallowed a Virginia law that financially hurt Anglican clergymen. When a minister sued, Henry convinced a jury to award only a minimal settlement.

The artist, George Cooke, painted several children—one of whom holds a rolling hoop—among the spectators in the packed courtroom. An itinerant artist, Cooke was a well-known painter of southern landscapes, portraits, and historical scenes in the mid-nineteenth century.