While in New Hampshire on an early tryout for the presidency or a TV show, Sarah Palin recently spoke of Paul Revere’s ride. With unwarranted self-confidence, she mentioned at least twice that Revere rang a bell (he did not).
While in New Hampshire, is it possible that she had just seen one of those 1950s motel lobby murals of Revere on a horse, holding a bell? Perhaps she decided on the spot to fill her void with that visual impression. There is freedom in open spaces, as she reminds us often.
Sensing a talking point opportunity, she also said Revere was riding to stop the British from “taking away our guns” (he wasn’t). Most curious was her assertion that Revere was “warning the British,” which is an odd thing for a colonial patriot to do.
Here is what Revere said he was up to that night. Longfellow’s poem obscures how dangerous the mission was.
I set off upon a very good Horse; it was then about 11 o’Clock, & very pleasant. After I had passed Charlestown Neck, & got nearly opposite where Mark was hung in chains, I saw two men on Horse back, under a Tree.
When I got near them, I discovered they were British officer.
One tryed to git a head of Me, & the other to take me. I turned
my Horse very quick, & Galloped towards Charlestown neck,
and then pushed for the Medford Road. The one who chased
me, endeavoring to Cut me off, got into a Clay pond, near
where the new Tavern is now built. I got clear of him,
and went thro Medford, over the Bridge, & up to Menotomy.
In Medford, I awaked the Captain of the Minute men; & after
that, I alarmed almost every House, till I got to Lexington.
I found Mrs. Messrs. Hancock & Adams at the Rev. Mr. Clark’s; I told
them my errand, and inquired for Mr. Daws; they said he had
not been there; I related the story of the two officers, &
supposed that He must have been stopped, as he ought to
have been there before me. After I had been there about half
an Hour, Mr. Daws came; after we refreshid our selves, we and set off
for Concord, to secure the Stores, &c. there. We were overtaken by a young Docter Prescot,
whom we found to be a high Son of Liberty. I told them
of the ten officers that Mr. Devens mett, and that it was pro-
bable we might be stoped before we got to Concord; for
I supposed that after Night, they divided them selves, and that
two of them had fixed themselves in such passages as were
most likely to stop any intelegence going to Concord.
I likewise mentioned, that we had better allarm all the In-
habitents till we got to Concord; the young Doctor much ap-
proved of it, and said, he would stop with either of us, for the
people between that & Concord knew him, & would give the
more credit to what we said.