He was advocating self defense when he said this:
“It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”(the full text is here)
I sometimes wonder what it took for a man to say the things that would endanger everything in his existence. I think maybe it was the freedom they had tasted in this new world after so many years of such heavy oppression. I pray that if the time ever comes, we will have such men to stand and inspire.