John R. Houk
© June 8, 2011
I am in my fifties. Let’s keep that widely known secret between us. I begin by announcing my approximate age to talk a little about history and Sarah Palin.
When I was in Grade School Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s account of The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere was presented as the gospel truth:
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.
He said to his friend, “If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,
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.”
Then he said “Good-night!” and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, British man-of-war;
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.
Meanwhile, his friend through alley and street
Wanders and watches, with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.
Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the sombre rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade,
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town
And the moonlight flowing over all.
Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their night encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel’s tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, “All is well!”
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay,
A line of black that bends and floats
On the rising tide like a bridge of boats.
Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he patted his horse’s side,
Now he gazed at the landscape far and near,
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
And turned and tightened his saddle girth;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry tower of the Old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry’s height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns.
A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet;
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.
He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
And under the alders that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.
It was twelve by the village clock
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer’s dog,
And felt the damp of the river fog,
That rises after the sun goes down.
It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, black and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon.
It was two by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadow brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket ball.
You know the rest. In the books you have read
How the British Regulars fired and fled,
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the redcoats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.
So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.
This lengthy poem was my Grade School history listen on Paul Revere. The webpage I took this from says Longfellow wrote it in 1860. In browsing other websites the year of 1861 was given. I’m not going to investigate the authenticity of the year because it is irrelevant except for the fact that Longfellow wrote the poem not as a patriotic hat tip to the Revolutionary War. Rather Longfellow’s intention was as a Union patriot to inspire Northerners to solidify against slavery in the initial stages of the Civil War.
Here is a brief summary of the truth beginning the history myth taught in school:
From History’s Myths by Nathan Mylott & Mr. Fenton 2/25/08
Paul Revere’s Ride
History: Paul Revere rode through the countryside shouting “the British are coming!”, which alerted the slumbering and unsuspecting militiamen to prepare for the first battle of the Revolutionary War.
Fact: Revere was one of several people who rode out and notified colonists. The militiamen were not sleeping unaware. They had been preparing for this and were ready to go when Revere and others shouted “call to arms!” The story of Revere was made popular in 1861 by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Understand this: Revere was not the only person sent out to warn the Revolutionary War patriots that British forces were coming. Indeed Paul Revere was captured by the British.
Revere as a prisoner was interrogated by British and he relatively told the truth probably minus any details that would provide strategical information to the British army. Basically Revere in captivity told the Brits the Massachusetts militia has already been warned and the various sounds of the night (like various musket shots) were continuing signals among the militia.
So just as Palin had said Revere had notified or alerted the British. Here Revere describes in his own words the situation:
Paul Revere: Memorandum on Events of April 18, 1775.
Paul Revere of Boston, in the Colony of Massachusetts Bay in New England; of Lawfull Age, doth testify and say, that I was sent for by Docr Joseph Warren, of said Boston, on the evening of the 18th of April, about 10 oClock; when he desired me “to go to Lexington, and inform Mr Samual Adams, and the Honle John Hancock Esqr that there was a number of Soldiers, composed of Light troops, & Grenadiers, marching to the bottom of the Common, where was a number of Boats to receive them; it was supposed, that they were going to Lexington, by the way of Cambridge River, to take them or go to Concord, to distroy the Colony Stores.” I proceeded immeditely, and was put across Charles River, and landed near Charlestown Battery, I was informed by Richd Devens Esqr that he mett that evening, after Sun set, Nine Officers of the Ministeral Army, mounted on good Horses, & Armed, going towards Concord; I set off, it was then about 11 oClock, the Moon shone bright. I had got almost over Charlestown Common, toward Cambridge, when I saw two Officers on Horseback, standing under the shade of a Tree, in a narrow part of the roade, I was near enough to see their Holsters, & cockades. one of them Started his horse towards me, the other up the road, as I supposed, to head me should I escape the first. I turned my horse short about, and rid upon a full Gallop for Mistick Road, he followed me about 300 yardes, and finding he could not catch me, returned. I proceeded to Lexington, thro Mistick, and alarmed Mr Adams & Col. Hancock. After I had been there about half an hour Mr Daws arrived, who came from Boston, over the neck; we set off for Concord, & were overtaken by a young Gentm named Prescot, who belonged to Concord, & was going home; when we had got about half way from Lexington to Concord, the other two, stopped at a House to awake the man, I kept along. When I had got about 200 Yards ahead of them, I saw two officers as before. I called to my company to come up, saing here was two of them, (for I had told them what Mr Devens told me, and of my being stoped) in an instant, I saw four of them, who rode up to me, with their pistols in their hands, said G-d d–n you stop, if go an Inch further, you are a dead Man. immeditly Mr. Prescot came up we attempted to git thro them, but they kept before us, and swore if we did not turn in to that pasture, they would blow our brains out, (they had placed themselves opposite to a pair of Barrs, and had taken the Barrs down) they forced us in, when we had got in, Mr Prescot said put on. He took to the left, I to the right, towards a Wood, at the bottom of the Pasture intending, when I gained that, to jump my Horse & run afoot; just as I reached it, out started six officers, siesed my bridle, put their pistols to my Breast, ordered me to dismount, which I did. One of them, who appeared to have the command there, and much of a Gentleman, asked me where I came from; I told him, he asked what time I left it; I told him, he seemed surprised, said Sr, may I crave your name. I answered my name is Revere, what said he, Paul Revere; I answered yes; the others abused me much; but he told me not to be afraid, no one should hurt me. I told him they would miss their Aim. He said they should not, they were only wait for some Deserters they expected down the Road. I told him I knew better, I knew what they were after; that I had alarmed the country all the way up, that their Boats were catch’d aground, and I should have 500 men there soon; one of them said they had 1500 coming; he seemed surprised and road off into the road, and informed them who took me, they came down immeditly on a full gallop, one of them (whom I since learned, was Major Mitchel of the 5th Regt) clapd his Pistol to my head, and said he was going to me some questions, if I did not tell the truth, he would blow my brains out. I told him I esteemed myself a man of truth, the he had stopped me on the highway, & made me a prisoner, I knew not by what right; I would tell him the truth; I was not afraid. He then asked me the same questions that they other did, and many more, but was more particular; I gave him much the same answers; he then ordered me to mount my horse, they first searched me for pistols. When I was mounted, the Major took the reins out of my hand, and said, by G-d Sr, you are not to ride with reins I assure you; and gave them to an officer on my right to lead me. he then Ordered 4 men out of the Bushes, and to mount their horses; they were country men which they had stopped who were going home; then ordered us to march. He said to me “We are now going towards your friends, and if you attempt to run, or we are insulted, we will blow your Brains out.” When we had got into the road they formed a circle and ordered the prisoners in the centre & to lead me in the front.
We rid towards Lexington, a quick pace; they very often insulted me calling me Rebel, &c &c. after we had got about a mile, I was given to the sergant to lead, he was Ordered to take out his pistol (he rode with a hanger) and if I run, to execute the Major’s sentence; When we got within about half a Mile of the Meeting house, we heard a gun fired; the Major asked me what it was for, I told him to alarm the country; he Ordered the four prisoners to dismount, they did, then one of the officers dismounted and cutt the Bridles, and Saddels, off the Horses, & drove them away, and told the men they might go about their business; I asked the Major to dismiss me, he said he would carry my, lett the consequence be what it will; He then ordered us to march, when we got within sight of the Meeting House, we heard a Volley of guns fired, as I supposed at the tavern, as an Alarm; the Major ordered us to half, he asked me how far it was to Cambridge, and many more questions, which I answered; he then asked the Sergant, if his horse was tired, he said yes; he Ordered him to take my horse; I dismounted, the Sarjant mounted my horse; they cutt the Bridle & saddle off the Sarjant’s horse & rode off down the road. I then went to the house where I mess Adams & Hancock, and told them what had happined; their friends advised them to go out of the way: I went with them, about two miles a cross road; after resting myself, I sett off with another man to go back to the Tavern, to enquire the News; when we got there, we were todl the troops were within two miles. We went into the Tavern to git a Trunk of papers belonging to Col. Hancock, before we left the House, I saw the Ministeral Troops from the Chamber window. We made haste & had to pass thro’ our Militia, who were on a green behind the Meeting house, to the number as I supposed, about50 or 60. I went thro’ them, as I passed I heard the commanding officer speake to his men to this purpose. “Lett the troops pass by & don’t molest them, without they begin first” I had to go a cross Road, but had not got half Gun shot off when the Ministeral Troops appeared in sight behinde the Meeting House; they made a short halt, when a gun was fired. I heard the report, turned my head, and saw the smoake in front of the Troops, they imeaditly gave a great shout, ran a few paces, then the whole fired. I could first distinguish Iregular fireing, which I suppose was the advance Guard, and then platoons. At the time I could not see our Militia, for they were covered from me, by a house at the bottom of the Street, and further saith not. (The Patriot Resource)
Now what is it that Sarah Palin said?
He who warned the British that they weren’t going to be taking away our arms by ringing those bells and, um, making sure as he’s riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that, uh, we were going to be secure and we were going to be free.
If you were to Google Sarah Palin and Paul Revere you notice the huge amount of Left Wing websites and bloggers that are pointing to the favorite but erroneous theme that Palin is an idiot not knowing American history. The reality is Palin’s 30 second or so sentence was more accurate than that which was in Public Schools as fact for a half a century.
Then when the facts are presented, instead of a: “O wow! Sarracuda is more intelligent than we thought,” there was numerous Left Wing butt covering accusations that Sarah Palin’s self-defense and the self-defense of others was lame.
If Leftists can’t handle the truth they twist and revise the truth by a lie.
She gets it right, You betcha
By Wesley Pruden
June 7, 2011
Pruden & Politics
Sarah Palin is the hottest act in town, and the critics can only grind their teeth. She’s playing the media like a violin, though the likes of Chris Matthews and Maureen Dowd look more like bass fiddles.
Her “secret” bus tour of America is a secret so closely held that she travels in a Greyhound-sized monster decorated with her name and an American flag the size of a barn. The lady who was mocked by the wisenheimers for saying she could see Russia from her backyard in Alaska now sees revenge through the windshield of her bus.
The media’s Gaffe Patrol, ever on the scout for mistakes, errors, blunders, slips of the tongue and other erratum the patrollers think they see in our pols, pounced on the lady the other day in Boston for “mangling” the story of the midnight ride of Paul Revere. She had recounted the story that Paul Revere warned the British when every man riding in the press caravan was sure it wasn’t the British he warned, but patriots.
The great media ha-ha chorus jeered Miss Sarah for days. She felt the need to try to explain. “Part of his ride,” she told Fox News on Sunday, “was to warn the British who were already there. ‘That, hey! You’re not going to succeed. You’re not going to take American arms.’”
This makes perfect sense to the Americans she speaks to, but to the press claque this was only further proof that Miss Sarah was the usual Republican moron. She obviously hadn’t mastered American history in elementary school—indeed, she didn’t even get her diploma in the Ivy League.
Only now it turns out that she was right about Paul Revere’s midnight ride and the press claque was wrong. Even the professors say so, though they’re grudging to the point of churlishness. “Basically,” says Brendan McConville, a history professor at Boston University, “when Paul Revere was stopped by the British, he did say to them, ‘Look, there is a mobilization going on that you’ll be confronting.’” Revere, an honest tradesman, probably didn’t employ “professor-speak” in the heat of the moment, with words like “mobilization” and “confronting,” but we can take the point. In the account of the most famous midnight ride in American history, the professor says, “the British are aware as they’re marching down the countryside they hear church bells ringing—she was right about that—and warning shots being fired. That’s accurate.”
Patrick Leehey of the Paul Revere House in Boston says the midnight rider was probably bluffing his Redcoat captors, so maybe it could be construed that Revere was in fact warning the British. “But I don’t know if that’s really what Mrs. Palin was referring to.” Prof. McConville was even less gracious conceding that Mrs. Palin had got it right. He wouldn’t concede that her remarks were based on scholarship. No Ph.D, no tenure for her. “I would call her lucky in her comments.” The rest of us would call her correct, but that’s just how professors think. Though not all. “It seems to be a historical fact that it happened [her way],” says William Jacobson, a law professor at Cornell. “A lot of the criticism [of Sarah Palin] is unfair and made by people who are themselves ignorant of history.”
Nobody knows exactly what Mrs. Palin is up to; the smart money, which is often wrong, says she isn’t actually running for president, that she’s only having a little fun teasing the liberals who wet their pants at the mere mention of her name. Too bad if she doesn’t run, because she’s by far the most entertaining politician on the scene. The media story line is that she’s not smart enough to be president, that her “mangling” of history proves it. But from the looks of the chaos that Barack Obama has made of the economy, she apparently knows more about history than the president knows about economics (and the concerns of the people in Mr. Obama’s “57 states”).
Sarah Palin has hardly been scratched by the shot and shell showered on her since she streaked like a rocket across the landscape three years ago. She has a gift for feeling the love and expressing the enthusiasm Americans feel in their bones for their God and their country. For all his cool dispassion and occasional eloquence, it’s a gift the president doesn’t have.
Palin Closer to the Truth than Longfellow
John R. Houk
© June 8, 2011
She gets it right, You betcha
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