An Unlikely Hero

“Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year”

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

American history is a history of individuals. One of my favorites is Paul Revere. If not for Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, chances are few today would even know his name. Paul Revere was not a great orator; he was not a great statesman or politician; he was not even a member of the gentry in colonial America.

He never made the headlines and yet, he seems to turn up everywhere during the revolutionary period. He was evidently a witness to the Boston Massacre, based on a detailed engraving he made of the event later. As a member of Boston’s “Sons of Liberty”, he probably took part in the Boston Tea Party. He was a junior officer in the Penobscot Expedition under the command of Brig. Gen. Solomon Lovell. This battle in late July and early August of 1779 turned out to be the most disastrous military expedition of the revolutionary war for the continental armies.

The expedition’s mission was to destroy a newly arrived British contingent of 700-800 men encamped on the Majabagaduce Peninsular near the mouth of the Penobscot River in what is now Main. The overall expedition was under the command of Commodore Dudley Saltonstall consisting of a total of 43 ships, counting 19 warships,12 of which were privateers, and 24 transports. The transports carried the 1,200-man army of Gen. Lovell, including Lt. Colonel Paul Revere.

In battles on both land and water over a three week period, all 43 ships were lost and 474 members of the Massachusetts Militia and Continental Marines were killed or wounded. In contrast, only 13 British troops were killed or wounded and no British ships were lost. As a result of this disaster, Commodore Saltonstall was relieved of his command. However, the investigation that followed exonerated Revere.

In the poem by Longfellow, “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere”, the poet romanticizes Revere as a lone hero galloping through the countryside arousing the patriots. The true story is just as heroic but not quite so romantic. His mission was not to rouse the militia,—that was a side benefit—his primary assignment was to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock, staying at he home of the Rev. Clark in Lexington, of a contingent of the King’s “regulars” in route to place them under arrest for treason.

In this endeavor, he was not alone. There were at least five Sons of Liberty involved, under the direction of Dr. Joseph Warren, including the church sexton Robert Newman, Captain John Pulling who manned one of the lanterns, and William Dawes who rode to Lexington by a different route to minimize the risk of capture. After completing their mission at Lexington, Revere and Dawes rode on to Concord where the Continental Army’s arsenal was located. Revere and Dawes’ efforts not only saved the lives of Adams and Hancock, it also gave enough warning to the local militia to allow it to overcome the British troops and send them fleeing back to Boston.

Besides his involvement with the Sons of Liberty, Revere served as a messenger for the Boston Committee of Public Safety. In addition to his regular trade as a silversmith, he always found the time to perform his duty to his country while attending to the welfare of his wife and eleven children. Paul Revere was indeed an American Patriot, an ordinary man doing ordinary things in an ordinary way, always as a member of a group but never in charge. However, his actions made an unquestionable difference to the history of our nation.

Had it not been for him, Adams and Hancock would likely have been arrested and hanged for treason. Instead, fifteen months after Paul Revere’s famous ride, Hancock was President of the second Continental Congress and he and Adams were successfully advocating for a declaration of independence.

The most frequently asked question among today’s patriots is, “what can I, as an individual, do to help change the direction of our country?” Like Paul Revere, you can make a difference. Opportunities are everywhere. There are literally hundreds of groups and organizations all over America where you can join with others in helping to take back our country from the impending advent of a socialist tyranny. The Illinois Conservative Action Network (ICAN) is one of those groups, and we would welcome your help. Click HERE for some suggestions of things you can do as an individual to make a difference.

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