I’m sure most Americans are aware that former Alaska governor Sarah Palin has been on a bus tour along the east coast of the United States. What is the purpose of her tour? Only Palin knows for sure. She did, however, provide people with her reason for taking this tour of historical places on her Sarah PAC website.
It’s interesting when (for the 100th time) reporters shout out, “Why are you traveling to historical sites? What are you trying to accomplish?” I repeat my answer, “It’s so important for Americans to learn about our past so we can clearly see our way forward in challenging times; so, we’re bringing attention to our great nation’s foundation.” When that answer isn’t what the reporters want to hear, we’ve asked them if they’ve ever visited these sites like the National Archives, Gettysburg, etc. When they confirm that they haven’t, it’s good to say, “Well, there you go. You’ll learn a lot about America today.” (They usually don’t want to hear that either!)
Last Thursday, Palin stopped in Boston for a tour of three Revolutionary War sites. She said she was “getting goose bumps’’ from all the history she was glimpsing in Boston. She added, “You’ve got to know a lot about our past in order to know how to proceed successfully into the future.’’ And thanks to Palin we’re learning history anew as she provides reporters with her version of American historical events when she speaks to them on stops along her way.
After visiting the Old North Church in Boston’s North End, she hailed Paul Revere and what he did on his “famous ride.” Here is how Palin described that event: …he who warned the British that they weren’t gonna be takin’ away our arms, uh, by ringin’ those bells and, um, makin’ sure as he’s ridin’ his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we’re gonna be secure and we were gonna be free. And we we’re gonna be armed.
Got that? Revere warned the British! That’s news to me. And to think that I thought for decades that Paul Revere had been riding around on his horse warning certain American colonists about the British. The archivist at the Cambridge Public Library doesn’t know what really happened that fateful night either. The archivist wrote the following in a blog post: “Paul Revere and his famous midnight ride is so much a part of the collective memory of the American Revolution that it is often forgotten that Revere was just one of several men and one woman who alerted the Minutemen of the impending British advancement.”
I guess the History Channel got it wrong too. Following is what I found on the channel’s website. It includes no mention of bells.
By 1775, tensions between the American colonies and the British government had approached the breaking point, especially in Massachusetts, where Patriot leaders formed a shadow revolutionary government and trained militias to prepare for armed conflict with the British troops occupying Boston. In the spring of 1775, General Thomas Gage, the British governor of Massachusetts, received instructions from Great Britain to seize all stores of weapons and gunpowder accessible to the American insurgents. On April 18, he ordered British troops to march against Concord and Lexington.
The Boston Patriots had been preparing for such a British military action for some time, and, upon learning of the British plan, Revere and Dawes set off across the Massachusetts countryside. They took separate routes in case one of them was captured: Dawes left the city via the Boston Neck peninsula and Revere crossed the Charles River to Charlestown by boat. As the two couriers made their way, Patriots in Charlestown waited for a signal from Boston informing them of the British troop movement. As previously agreed, one lantern would be hung in the steeple of Boston’s Old North Church, the highest point in the city, if the British were marching out of the city by Boston Neck, and two lanterns would be hung if they were crossing the Charles River to Cambridge. Two lanterns were hung, and the armed Patriots set out for Lexington and Concord accordingly. Along the way, Revere and Dawes roused hundreds of Minutemen, who armed themselves and set out to oppose the British.
Tim Murphy—snarking little fellow—wrote this in an article at Mother Jones: “We don’t mean to nitpick—we just think that if you launch a major publicity tour on the subject of great moments in American history, it might make sense to brush up on the details first. We can only imagine how Palin might try to spin this: ‘Listen my children and you shall hear, of the midnight ride of Paul Revere. If the story doesn’t sound like what you read on Wikipedia, you know who to blame: the elite liberal media.’”
It’s just not fair! Tim Murphy and other members of the “lamestream media” love to make fun of Palin. I don’t understand why. She’s only trying to give us the scoop on what really happened in our country’s past—just like Representative Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota. Thank heavens we have women so well versed in American history that they can enlighten us today with their knowledge.
Palin hits town to pick her spots, take her shots (Boston Globe)
Just passing through (Boston Globe)
Paul Revere’s Ride, Reimagined by Sarah Palin (Mother Jones)
The Other Paul Revere: William Dawes’ Midnight Ride through Cambridge (The Cambridge Room)
Revere and Dawes warn of British attack (History.com)