Go beyond the myth to discover the real Paul Revere
Daniel Jolley | Shelby, North Carolina USA | 06/29/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Paul Revere is one of our most honored heroes of the Revolution, but - as this video makes clear - the famous story of his midnight ride is a little less than accurate. The Paul Revere most of us know is basically a mythological hero, one who was borne from the pages of an 1861 poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Just because the traditional story isn't true doesn't mean Paul Revere was not a great patriot, of course - he was, as viewers of this video will learn. Economic self-interest seemed to play a role in Revere's Revolutionary ardor, but no one can question his commitment to the cause. As English taxes began to hurt his smithing business, Revere turned to additional means to support his growing family - he learned dentistry (and even made false teeth), and he also practiced the art of engraving. In fact, many of his propagandistic engravings played an important role in the buildup of popular support in Boston for the inevitable Revolutionary War (although he was known to copy the work of others). In the months and years leading up to the outbreak of war, Revere joined a number of secret societies and organized what was essentially a spy network of artisans and men of the working class. He also became an important courier for the Patriot cause. Revere himself, while rather successful in business, was not of the upper class - and this helps explain why history tells us little of him in the years following his famous ride. On the night of April 18, 1775, Revere did indeed ride out on horseback to spread the word of British troops on the move, but he was only one of many such "midnight riders." The lights in the church tower were actually meant to inform those in the distance in case Revere was unable to get through and deliver his message. He did alert farmers and villagers along the way, but he would not have said "The British are coming" because, as one historian explains, he and all the Revolutionaries were themselves British. Before reaching Lexington, Revere was actually captured by a couple of redcoats, but he basically bluffed his way to freedom (although he did lose his horse) and was there in Lexington to hear "the shot fired round the world." You really never hear of Paul Revere after that momentous April night in 1775; it's a mixed story. His middle class status denied him the privilege of serving as an officer in the war, but he did help lead one significant mission, the largest amphibious assault of the war - it was, to put it lightly a disaster, and Revere ended up being accused of insubordination and cowardice. He fought for the right to a court-martial hearing and was eventually acquitted of all charges. After that, he basically built up his business, expanded into a number of new industries, and died a rather wealthy man at the age of 83. We might never have heard of Paul Revere had not Henry Wadsworth Longfellow immortalized him in poetic form, but he was an important Patriot in the fight for American independence. As a man who in many ways represented the artisan and lower classes, his life is a conduit to the thoughts and deeds of many an unsung hero of the Revolution. Personally, I have no problem with perpetuating the myth of the midnight ride, but getting to know the real Paul Revere is also an instructional privilege."
The life of Revere rather than only the well-known event
Charles Ashbacher | Marion, Iowa United States(email@example.com) | 05/25/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"All American children learn about the ?midnight ride of Paul Revere? in elementary school. However, that event was only one of many things he did in the struggle that separated the American colonies from Great Britain. Furthermore, it did not really occur in the way that it is described in the famous poem, so this tape is a way to learn what really happened. He was originally a silversmith, and he used those skills to construct anti-British propaganda, which is still admired for the artistic expression today. Revere was also one of the Sons of Liberty and helped organize the famous Boston Tea Party.
He rose to the rank of Colonel in the Continental army, although his military record is dubious, albeit somewhat unclear. It is highly likely that his most important contribution to the new nation was his role in manufacturing after the war was over. Like all colonies that gain independence, the newly freed colonies were lacking many of the economic assets that nations need, for they had previously been supplied by the colonial power. His business activity after the war helped provide some economic stability to the struggling new nation.
Like so many people who are identified with one event, Revere?s life was far more interesting and historically significant than that event would indicate. I enjoyed this video, the re-creations with actors give it a reality that nothing else can provide. The depth of examination into his life beyond one event makes me hope that all school children view it so that they can see his many contributions to the fight for independence."
"The hour of destruction or manly opposition to tyranny star
Annie Van Auken | Planet Earth | 01/25/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Jack Perkins hosts this 44 minute Paul Revere BIOGRAPHY chapter. Included are antique engravings and illustrations, reproductions of letters and many modern re-enactments.
Debunking of events in Longfellow's 1861 "Midnight Ride" poem
Father emigrates from France at age 10 and is apprenticed to a goldsmith
Paul Jr., oldest of 7, is appointed at 19 an officer in the French & Indian War
Prosperous master goldsmith in 1760s despite oppressive F&I War debt taxes
Becomes a Freemason
Marries Rachel Walker in 1773
Soon after, publishes Tea Act cartoons that arouse the citizenry toward rebellion
Speculation that Revere participated in the Boston Tea Party
In response, Britain closes Boston Harbor along with other "Intolerable Acts"
Organizes and active in a spy ring
Events of the Midnight Ride:
Dozens of riders alert citizens. Revere rides north from Boston at a measured paced, stopping at each home to awaken occupants. At Lexington, he, Dawes and Butler continue on toward Concord. Revere is captured in Lincoln, the other two reach their destination. Revere tells British soldiers he's alerting people to rally to their cause. They transport him to Boston and he's released in time to see the opening shots of the Revolution.
Prints Continental money on a press smuggled out of Boston; procures supplies and fights in battles as a common soldier
Appointed an artillery officer
Charged with insubordination after an ill-fated sea expedition; demands a court-martial; is acquitted (1782)
Returns to Boston after the war and partially converts his silversmith shop to a hardware store
In the 1790s, manufactures church bells, cannons and armaments
(1800) Begins rolling copper used in Old Ironsides and prominent buildings
Persuasive argument for adoption of the U.S. Constitution
7-1-1813, death of Rachel at age 68
5-10-1818, dead at age 83
Related BIOGRAPHY episodes:
GEORGE WASHINGTON: Founding Father
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN: CITIZEN OF THE WORLD
BENEDICT ARNOLD: Triumph and Treason"