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The Midnight Ride of ... Sybil Ludington

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Meryl Ann Butler     Permalink
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Sybil Ludington statue by Anna Hyatt Huntington, Carmel, NY by wiki

April 18th was my grandmother's birthday, which was why she often regaled us grandchildren with a retelling of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's famous poem, Paul Revere's Ride :

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

While many Americans today believe Longfellow's version as gospel, the poet took significant liberties in his retelling of the story, as Revere was one of many dozen riders that night, some of whom even rode longer distances.

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Even Revere's artistic contributions -- his unequalled silversmithing skills -- have been eclipsed, undeservedly, by the ghostly vision of him galloping through the shadows.

At the time of Revere's ride, many of the Patriot leaders, including John Hancock and Samuel Adams, had bounties on their heads, and had left Boston to hide out in the countryside. So it was to warn them of possible impending capture or assassination that both Paul Revere and William Dawes were dispatched from Boston to ride separate routes to Lexington.

One if by land, and two if by sea,

And I on the opposite shore will be

Ready to ride and spread the alarm

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Through every MIddlesex village and farm

For the country folk to be up and to arm

The two lanterns in the bell tower were actually not for Revere's benefit, as Longfellow's poem infers. By the time Revere left Boston, he surely knew the path the Brit Regulars would take. In fact, his most important ride had been just two days before, probably in the much less poetic daylight hours, to warn Concord of the imminent movement of the British troops.

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Meryl Ann Butler is an artist, author, educator and OpedNews Managing Editor who has been actively engaged in utilizing the arts as stepping-stones toward joy-filled wellbeing since she was a hippie. She began writing for OpEdNews in Feb, 2004. She became a Senior Editor in August 2012 and Managing Editor in January, (more...)

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