In 1774 and on into the spring of 1775, Paul Revere acted as an express rider. He was employed by various committees of the Massachusetts government to carry news, messages, copies of resolutions and other government documents as far away as New York and Philadelphia.
In addition, he was active in the "Sons of Liberty", an American Patriot group desiring independence from england.
In the days prior, Paul Revere and others had observed British troops assembling and had suspected that something was about to happen.
On the evening of April 18, 1775 Dr. Joseph Warren summoned Paul Revere and instructed him to ride to Lexington, Massachusetts. He was to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock that British troops were marching to arrest them.
Several associates rowed him across the Charles River to Charlestown. There he borrowed a horse from his friend Deacon John Larkin. And, he verified that the local "Sons of Liberty" committee had seen the pre-arranged signal.
Paul had arranged for these signals because he was afraid he might be prevented from leaving Boston.
There were two possibilities. The British could march "by land" out Boston Neck. Or they could row "by sea" across the Charles River to Cambridge.
One lantern hung in the steeple tower of the North Church would indicate "by land". Two lanterns would indicate that the British intended to come "by sea".
Robert Newman, the church sexton, snuck out of his house and went to the church where he was joined by John Pulling. John locked him in the church. He hung the lanterns for only a minute so that the British would not become suspicious. After hanging the lanterns, he left through a window. The British subsequently questioned Newman about the incident but no charges were filed.
On the way to Lexington, he reportedly stopped at each house "alarming" the country-side. He arrived in Lexington about midnight. Approaching the house where Adams and Hancock were staying, a sentry reportedly asked that he not make so much noise. Paul Revere is reported to have replied: "Noise! You'll have more noise than this before long. The regulars are coming out!"
After delivering his message, he was joined by William Dawes, a second rider sent on the same errand by a different route, who reportedly arrived about 12:30. They decided on their own to continue to Concord, Massachusetts where weapons and supplies were hidden and left about 1:00 AM.
On the way, they were joined by a third rider, Dr. Samuel Prescott. It seems that he had been visiting his girlfriend at a Lexington tavern. The story is that she was the tavern owner's wife and that he was discovered with her and fled the tavern when he met up with Revere and Dawes.
Shortly after that, British troops stopped and arrested all three. Prescott immediately escaped. Dawes escaped soon after. Revere, however, was held some time before being released.
As he had no horse, he returned on foot to Lexington in time to witness part of the battle on Lexington Green on April 19, 1775. It was the first battle in which British troops were killed.
Dawes also did not make it to Concord. He got lost in the dark and unfamiliar surroundings.
The only one who actually made it all the way to Concord was Dr. Samuel Prescott.
every year Boston celebrates the anniversary of the lanterns that set the Revolutionary War in motion at a candlelit ceremony featuring typically featuring costumed Colonists, patriotic music and some famous actor as Paul Revere.
1999 highlights included David Connor as Paul Revere, an opening procession with the USS Constitution color guard and a bell-ringing performance by the Old North Guild of Change Ringers. Ethan Warren, a descendant of Paul Revere, read Longfellow's poem "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere."
More About Paul Revere
The Midnight Ride of William Dawes: In 1896 Helen F. Moore wrote this parody of Longfellow's poem and published it in Century Magazine. Of course, even this poem didn't get it completely right. Dr. Samuel Prescott still doesn't seem to have a poem. ««»»
Paul Revere House: The House, maintained by the Paul Revere Memorial Association, is a historic landmark. The house is open to visitors and the association has national memberships available. T house includes a 900 pound bell, a small mortar and a bolt from the USS Constitution, all made by Paul Revere & Sons. ««»»
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