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

165 ratings

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


Jun 30, 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 5, 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 91 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 Anujay S

Aug 1, 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 Michael C

Jul 4, 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 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 Michael J

Jan 8, 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 Nicholas A

Jun 16, 2022

Outstanding course! I enjoyed every minute of Professor Ragosta's lectures. History was one of my majors in college, I received an award from the history department at graduation and wrote my thesis on the true causes of the war of 1812 ( i do not believe it was the impressment of sailors, but domestic political maneuvering of Jefferson and Madison in addition to a land grab that would aid in the goal of developing America as an agrarian empire). Yet, I did not know about much of this course content.

The lack of attention that Patrick Henry gets in the historical narrative of the revolution and years after is tragic. This course does an excellent job at righting a historical injustice. As someone who loves history and will be attending law school soon, this course was inspiring and wonderful. Thank you so much Professor Ragosta!

By kenneth s

Sep 13, 2022

the depth of information provided is awesome. the knowledge learned about Mr. Henry and other founding fathers is priceless. To learn basic principals from a founding father that can be applied to the world today is wonderful. After the class you will gain a far greater appreciation for Mr. Henry and will see him as a truly amazing Founding Father who has never been appreciated for all he did and gave to this country. All politicians from the town level to the federal level should take this course and learn from Mr. Henry on how to support your causes and beliefs but also how to stand united and support the cause that is America, poltical party be damned.

By Betti D S

Sep 11, 2021

Professor Rogosta's lectures were engaging, perceptive and well-informed. In addition to gaining a greater appreciation of Patrick Henry's contributions to the founding of our country, I also gained a much fuller understanding of the events and issues leading to the establishment of our Constitution and its philosophical underpinnings. The insights on the tensions between the common good and individual liberties are especially valuable given the current 2021 national psyche. One of the best courses I've taken through Coursera: I hope Professor Rogosta will be offering additional U.S. history courses in the future.

By Abigail P

Jul 14, 2022

Very enlightening!! I truly enjoyed this course. The Professor was very easy to listen to, and a great speaker. I loved that there were so many opportunities to discuss our opinions, and I liked that there was a quiz after every weeks worth of work, to test what we remembered by the end of the week. Definitely way more helpul than just one big quiz at the end. Overall, I learned a lot, and I was faced with lots of questions I'd never thought about before. It was challenging, but also eye-opening. Five stars!!

By Jeffrey A

Mar 30, 2021

John Ragosta is a fabulous attorney, lecturer, historian and professor. I am a retired attorney with 43 years of practice and he kept me fully engaged throughout the entire course. It was an exceptional experience to learn more about Patrick Henry and his formative involvement with the early years of our country. It was fascinating to learn of Henry’s involvement as a forgotten founder and why that was the case. Anyone who enjoys Colonial American history will enjoy this course immensely.

By David G

Aug 11, 2021

Professor Ragosta does an outstanding job of presenting a biography of Patrick Henry and his sometimes overlooked importance in American history. Professor Ragosta's calm, enthusiastic presentation style would make even Patrick Henry proud of his oratory and teaching skills. Thanks so much, Professor Ragosta. I really appreciate such an entertaining and informative learning experience.

By Nicole R

Mar 27, 2022

Exceptional course covering the largely untold story of Patrick Henry. A lawyer, politican, American, Virginian, father, leader, and master orator, Henry finally claims his rightful place amongst the giants of the Revolutionary War. Dr. Ragosta's presentations were obviously well studied and well founded--the lessons were engaging and filled with insightful commentary. Thank you!

By Douglass L

Mar 20, 2021

A great use of the Coursera platform. Thought provoking, informative, and inspiring. A tribute to what professionals outside of mainstream academia can offer in this new age where doing the research no longer takes so much time away from thinking about the research. Taking this course was like finding that missing piece of the puzzle that was hiding in the wrong box.

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 1, 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 judith b

Sep 3, 2021

Not only did I learn about history but also how basic constitutional rights are so important today. This course is so important in regard to how the colonies evolved into the United States and still lives by the constitution. I enjoyed the lectures and assignments. Patrick Henry is so important to the history of America.

By Dawn W

Dec 4, 2020

This was an amazing course on the timeline of events in Henry's life that went beyond an overview. The professor set the context with the events happening that surrounded Henry's actions. I got a clear picture of the Voice of the Revolution, and the salient points that demonstrates Henry as a Founding Father.

By racheal h

Mar 9, 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 Sherre M

Nov 11, 2020

Fabulous course. Professor Ragosta is a vibrant and learned instructor who gave me insight into Patrick Henry that has dramatically altered my views of the forgotten founder. Highly recommended to anyone with an interest in colonial America and the true stories of the rooms where it happened. Thank you!


Mar 29, 2021

I was impressed with the professor's knowledge of the subject matter and appreciated his delivering lectures from some of the key locations in the life of Patrick Henry. I thought the quizzes were a bit easy, but did provoke some thoughts. I though the discussion prompts were quite worthwhile.

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 23, 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 7, 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 Debra A M

Oct 30, 2020

Mr. Ragosta keeps the course interesting and intriguing. He is fair in his evaluations of the Founders' actions and provides thought-provoking questions. He presents a "real" Henry and inspires the student to learn more about this important historical figure.