War and Conflict

American Revolution

Why is Paul Revere’s ride so well known?

The April 18, 1775, event was famous in its own right but was memorialized by American writer Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882) in his poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride.” The verse contains an error (or perhaps Longfellow simply took literary license) about the night that the American Revolution (1775–83) began: The light signal that was to be flashed from Boston’s Old North Church (one light if the British were approaching the patriots by land and two if the approach was by sea) was sent not to Revere; it was received by Revere’s compatriots in Charlestown (now part of Boston proper). However, Revere did ride that night—on a borrowed horse. He left Boston at about 10:00 P.M. and arrived in Lexington at midnight to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock, who were wanted for treason, that the British were coming. The next day, April 19, the battles of Lexington and Concord were fought, starting the Revolutionary War in America.

As an American patriot, Revere (1735–1818) was known for his service as a special messenger, so much so that by 1773 he had already been mentioned in London newspapers. Revere also participated in the Boston Tea Party in 1773.


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