Patrick Henry was born on May 29, 1736, in Hanover County, Virginia. His parents were John and Sarah Winston Henry. He spent the early years of his life growing up on a tobacco plantation with his parents in Virginia. For a short while in his early childhood, Henry attended public school. After that he was tutored by his father, John Henry, a surveyor and county justice. .
Later in his life as a young man, Henry entered into a career of importing and exporting. His skill, however, proved to be somewhere other than business. He failed as a storekeeper and as a farmer within the space of seven years (Microsoft Corp). In 1756, Patrick Henry married his first wife, Sarah Shelton. Shortly after marriage, Henry then turned his attention to the study of law. He received his license to practice law in 1760 and soon after acquired a large number of clients within his county. By 1770 Henry was specializing in appeals before the Virginia General Court. His skill in criminal cases was perhaps unsurpassed by any other American lawyer of the period.
In 1763, Patrick Henry earned great distinction in his actions during a major case known as Parsons' Cause. This famous suit involved a law that permitted parishes in Virginia to pay the Anglican clergy in currency, rather than in tobacco, a commodity that was currently mandated by the British government at the time. The legislation was passed when the price of tobacco rose due to recent crop failure. Before it could really take effect, however, the British king, George III, vetoed the legislation. .
The vetoing of the case by George III propelled Henry into his defense against the rights of Virginians against the actions of an oppressive king. Henry held that government was a contract between the king and his subjects and that George III had broken the contract by attempting to deprive Virginians of their natural rights (Microsoft Corp). Henry declared that because of this, the King of England had forfeited his claim to the colonists" obedience.