On this day in 1776, a Sunday, Landon Carter—having mistakenly heard his rival Patrick Henry is dead and now worked up over Henry’s renown for having opposed the Stamp Act in 1765—entered the following into his diary:
It is not many days past I heard that in the lobby of the late convention it was urged the late dignified person was the first who opened the breath of liberty to America. But it was with truth replied, and Proved that that breath was first breathed and supported by a person not then taken notice of. I know this merit is claimed also by another, But I only say I never courted Public applause; and if any endeavour assists my country, I care not who enjoys the merit of it. This I am certain of, that nothing renders a man more suspected than his schemes for Popularity, and I will forever be like a Prophet, who is only without honour in his own country, rather than be conscious of anything so base as deceiving people, let the success be what it will. In this sense, Virtue will ever carry its own reward; and he is a Villain that aims at any thing by a lie that his conscience cannot support.
Read other entries from Carter’s diary.
IMAGE: Patrick Henry Before the Virginia House of Burgesses (1851) by Peter F. Rothermel, a painting of Patrick Henry’s “If this be treason, make the most of it!” speech against the Stamp Act of 1765