The introduction of a British troop presence led by turncoat general Benedict Arnold into Virginia in early 1781 prompted an increase in militia activity to counter the British force. The militia were, however, poorly trained and equipped, and were unable to prevent Arnold from moving freely. Arnold was reinforced in March 1781 by additional troops led by General Phillips, who targeted Petersburg in a raiding expedition. Militia forces led by von Steuben and Peter Muhlenberg decided to make a stand at Blandford, then a separate community.
In 1774 and 1775, Henry served as a delegate to the First and Second Continental Congresses, but did not prove particularly influential. He gained further popularity among the people of Virginia, both through his oratory at the convention and by marching troops towards the colonial capital of Williamsburg after the Gunpowder Incident until the munitions seized by the royal government were paid for. Henry urged independence, and when the Fifth Virginia Convention endorsed this in 1776, served on the committee charged with drafting the Virginia Declaration of Rights and the original Virginia Constitution. Henry was promptly elected governor under the new charter, and served a total of five one-year terms.
After leaving the governorship in 1779, Henry served in the Virginia House of Delegates until he began his last two terms as governor in 1784. The actions of the national government under the Articles of Confederation made Henry fear a strong federal government and he declined appointment as a delegate to the 1787 Constitutional Convention. He actively opposed the ratification of the Constitution, a fight which has marred his historical image. He returned to the practice of law in his final years, declining several offices under the federal government. Henry is remembered for his oratory, and as an enthusiastic promoter of the fight for independence.