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Copy of Paul Revere
Transcript of Copy of Paul Revere
Paul Revere Rides on a Saddle of Lies
All of these images were created or staged in order to stir patriotism in the viewer:
Paul Revere's ride, according to a 2nd grader:
Source of the Myth
"Paul Revere's Ride" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Raising flag at Iwo Jima
What other patriotic symbols might have been created to manipulate our emotions?
"He made a midnight ride from Boston to Concord in 1775"
"He single-handedly warned the countryside that 'the British are coming!'"
"He learned how the British would attack--'One if by land, two if by sea'"
Most of what we learn about Paul Revere and his midnight ride can be traced to Longfellow's poem. Longfellow was an abolitionist from the North. He wrote "Paul Revere's Ride" just before the civil war began.
A closer look at the history and the poem reveals the Longfellow wrote the poem to influence the Civil War.
What the poem says:
Longfellow states, “One if by land, and two if by sea; / And I on the opposite shore will be / Ready to ride and spread the alarm / Through every Middlesex village and farm, / for the country folk to be up and to arm”(10-14).
Revere knew the British plans ahead of time.
“Revere had arranged for these signals the previous weekend, as he was afraid that he might be prevented from leaving Boston”(“The Real Story…”).
He was the one who ordered the lanterns to be lit, so he wasn't waiting around for a signal. He was part of a well-thought out plan to alert other Revolutionaries.
What the poem says:
After supposedly receiving the information, Revere’s next move in Longfellow’s poem is to say “‘Good-night!’ and with muffled oar/ silently [row] to the Charlestown shore”(16) by himself.
Revere did row to Charlestown, but he did not go alone.
He was rowed by two associates and given a horse on the other side by a third man (“Paul Revere’s Ride”).
Joined by William Dawes and Dr. Samuel Prescott.
What Longfellow says:
It was twelve by the village clock
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town...
It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington...
It was two by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town (20-25).
This sure makes it seem like he rode alone
Revere did ride into Lexington, arriving near midnight.
He was, however, joined shortly after by William Dawes, who left Boston at nearly the same time by a different route ("Paul Revere's Ride...").
What Longfellow says:
Paul Revere never made it to Concord.
He was arrested along the way, questioned, and released (“Paul Revere’s Ride: About…”).
Prescott was the only one of the men to make it to Concord (“Paul Revere’s Ride”).
Why did Longfellow change the story?
The Birth of an Icon
Longfellow wanted to create an icon that Northerners could rally behind.
He wanted to instill a sense of patriotism so people would fight for his cause.
Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth. "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere." April 19, 1860. Tales of a Wayside Inn. N.p., 1863. Nationalcenter.org. Web. 1 May 2013. http://www.nationalcenter.org/PaulRevere'sRide.html>.
“Paul Revere’s Ride.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc, 19 March 2013. Web. 26 April 2013.
“Paul Revere’s Ride: About Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride.” Legal Language Services. Legal Language Services, n.d. Web. 26 April 2013.
“The Real Story of Revere’s Ride.” The Paul Revere House. Paul Revere Memorial Association. n.d. Web. 26 April 2013.
In his poem "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere," Longfellow glorified the ride of Paul Revere--while leaving out the contributions of several other men--in order to create an icon who would instill patriotism and inspire action in his fellow Northerners.
Map of the Civil War
Artistic choice makes the ride seem more exciting than it was.
In ”Paul Revere’s Ride” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow makes it seem like Paul Revere does not know how the British would arrive, whether by sea or by land, but that is not supported by fact.
Planning isn't heroic or exciting-- so it is left out.
Longfellow wanted to inspire his fellow Northerners with a symbol
A single person can change history
Artistic choice shows the ride as primarily a solo event.
Longfellow combines the three men who actually did the ride into one main "character"-- Paul Revere.
Emphasizes physical strength and endurance
Revere is a symbol to reinforce the idea that a single person can change history even though in this case it was a team effort.
Reason 3: Artistic choice eliminates unsuccessful parts of the ride.
The greatest discrepancy occurs in what is left out of Longfellow’s poem and the fact that Longfellow portrays Revere’s ride as a complete success.
There is no mention in the poem of many aspects of Revere’s difficulties. According to the poem, “In the hour of darkness and peril and need” people awoke and heard “The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed, / And the midnight message of Paul Revere” (127-130).
Revere was idolized
The story has more impact if you disregard the nuance.
On the brink of the Civil War, in 1861, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote “Paul Revere’s Ride” in the hopes that he could inspire his fellow Northerners to “waken and listen to hear”(128), to give “a cry of defiance, and not of fear”(122).