Palin on Revere: Who got it right?

There’s been a bit of an uproar in the media the last few days about Sarah Palin’s remarks that “Paul Revere warned the British” by “ringing those bells.”  (Consider this from the New York Daily News.)

The ridicule and derision they, along with the left-wing blogosphere, have put her through is completely understandable. You see, the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem doesn’t mention warning the British or the ringing of bells. Seemingly, if it’s not in the poem it cannot be part of the historical record.

How could she be so stupid about such a significant event in our history?

If you were to look at her comments in their entirety, and compare them to the historical record, another possibility emerges, that her words were correct.

What she actually said about Paul Revere:

“And, you know, he who warned the British that they weren’t gonna be takin’ away our arms by ringing those bells and making sure as he’s riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be secure and we were going to be free.”

Now, compare this to the historical record which shows that months before his most famous ride, Revere took part in the “Powder Alarms” whereby American patriots devised an early warning system consisting of lanterns, bells and gunshots to warn neighboring towns that British troops were en route to seize their gunpowder, in order to deny the use of arms by potential rebels. Once activated, gunpowder would be liberated from armories and hidden for the patriot’s later use.

This system was so effective, the British tried to quarantine Boston in hopes of preventing its activation. Revere acted as one of the organizers of the warning system and acted as a courier during it’s usage, well before his famous “midnight ride”.

Judging from the media’s reaction to her comments, I’d suggest that “journalists” add a few American History courses to their English major curriculum. Perhaps then, they wouldn’t look so foolish.


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