Listen My Children And You Shall Hear (That Everything You Know About The Midnight Ride Of Paul Revere Is Wrong)
If you went to an elementary school in the United States that wasn't controlled by Betsy DeVos, you may have read Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's rousing poem, "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere." The poem describes the adventures of Boston's best-known Patriot as he rides through towns screaming, "The British are coming! The British are coming!"
One slight problem with the poem: it's not particularly accurate.
In fact, what actually occurred that day is far more interesting. To start, there were actually two guys who made the ride. Paul Revere and William Dawes were both sent to Lexington and Concord to warn the townsfolk that the “regular troops” (redcoats) were coming to arrest Samuel Adams and John Hancock and seize the rebel’s ammunition storage facilities.
After successfully making it to Lexington, Revere and Dawes were about to head to Concord when they encountered Dr. Samuel Prescott who was on his way home at 1am. Now, this is where it gets scandalous, the rumor around Boston is that Prescott was visiting his fiancé in Lexington that night while her father was out of town on business. Unfortunately for these two lovebirds, the woman’s father returned home early and caught his daughter and Prescott in a compromising position. While the father went to get his musket, Prescott quickly grabbed his clothes, ran out the door, and rode off into the night. While on his way home from Lexington to Concord, Prescott bumped into Revere and Dawes, who told him they were headed to Concord to alert the town that the British were coming. Prescott decided to join them on their mission. Funny enough, both Revere and Dawes were captured just outside of Lexington and never made it to Concord. Prescott was the only messenger to finish the ride.
So why is Paul Revere famous and Samuel Prescott basically unknown? Because in 1860 a poet named Henry Wadsworth Longfellow decided that Revere's name was easier to rhyme than Prescott's. Longfellow also simplified and re-arranged parts of the story to create a better sounding and more effective poem.
I get that rhyming is important, but honestly, history class would have been way more exciting if they actually taught us what really happened. Think about it, if it wasn't for a 24-year-old dude trying to get a little pre-marital lovin' one night back in 1775, then the Redcoats could have won and we'd all be spelling the word Honor with a "u."
I should probably note that the story about Prescott trying to bang his fiancé has been refuted by many historians; however, it still hasn't been completely ruled out. Still, my version of the midnight ride is way more accurate than crazy Sarah Palin's version.