The second oldest out of nine children, Henry received much of his schooling from his father, who had attended university in Scotland, and his uncle, an Anglican minister.
He was a musical child, playing both the fiddle and the flute.
He was selected to serve as a delegate to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia in 1774.
In 1765, Henry won election to the House of Burgesses.
He insisted that only the colony itself should be able to levy taxes on its citizens.
Some in the assembly cried out that his comments were treason, but Henry was unfazed.
Henry sounded the call to arms, saying, "Our brethren are already in the field! " Only a short time later, the first shots were fired, and the American Revolution was under way.
Henry became the commander in chief of Virginia's forces, but he resigned his post after six months.
Focusing on statesmanship, he helped write the state's constitution in 1776.