Paul Revere Still Rides… Boston Part 2

This sculpture of Paul Revere

This sculpture of Paul Revere outside of the Old North Church in Boston commemorates Revere’s ride on April 18, 1875 to warn Colonials that General Thomas Gage’s troops were on their way to Lexington and Concord.

 

Listen my children and you shall hear /Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere, /It was on the 18th of April, in Seventy five, /Hardly a man is now alive/ Who remembers that famous day and year. —Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

By 1860, when these lines were penned, very few people indeed would have remembered the ride, so Longfellow was free to report the facts as he saw them, even though they were a bit “alternative.” As a dedicated abolitionist, he wanted to use his poem to alert the citizens to prepare for the impending struggles ahead in holding the nation together and in freeing the slaves, as well as recognize Revere’s heroism.  The last lines of the poem urged:

In the hour of darkness and peril and need, /The people will waken and listen to hear /The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed, /And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

 I can’t help but wonder if the 150,000 people who gathered on Boston Commons Saturday as part of the Women’s March to protest Donald Trump’s treatment of women and policies on healthcare, the environment and education hadn’t heard echoes of the hurrying hoof-beats. 

When Peggy and I walked across the Boston Commons three weeks ago, it was a quiet day except for fat squirrels wanting to become fatter. Back in 1775 when Paul Revere made his mad dash, British troops were camped out here. On Saturday, an estimated 150,000 gathered between here and the Massachusetts Statehouse for the Women's March. I thought the woman's statue was appropriate for this photo.

When Peggy and I walked across the Boston Commons a few weeks ago (shown above with the Massachusetts Statehouse), it was a quiet day except for fat squirrels wanting to become fatter. Back in 1775, British troops were camped out on the Commons. On Saturday, an estimated 150,000 people gathered here for the Women’s March.

A fat squirrel.

A fat squirrel occupies the Commons much more successfully than the British soldiers who suffered from a lack of food.

Longfellow was inspired to write the poem the day after climbing the steeple of the Old North Church where lanterns were hung to warn that British soldiers were moving toward Lexington and Concord.

Steeple of the Old North Church in Boston, Massachusetts that played an important role in the beginning of the Revolutionary War.

The Old North Church steeple where two lanterns were hung to warn that General Gage’s Redcoats were on the move by sea. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

The Old North Church in Boston, Massachusetts.

A view of the back of the Old North Church. Peggy and I visited on a grey day when we experienced both rain and snow. And it was even colder than it looks!

Front view of Old North Church in Boston, Massachusetts.

A front view of the Old North Church.

Looking toward the back of the Old North Church.

Looking toward the back of the Old North Church. The stairs leading up to the steeple where the lanterns were displayed is behind the organ pipes.

Organ pipes at Old North Church in Boston.

A close up of the organ pipes. I am assuming the angel is Gabriel.

Looking across box pews toward the altar at the Old North Church in Boston.

Looking toward the front of the church. In 1775 the church was Anglican. Today it is Episcopalian, the American equivalent. Note the interesting box pews.

Peggy sits in one of the pews holding a hymnal. Today, the pews are based on first come-first serve. But in 1775, the pews were 'owned' by their occupants and passed down through families. One of the guides told us that the cost for one the pews was the equivalent of what a middle class family might earn in a year today. Not cheap.

Peggy sits in one of the pews holding a hymnal. Today, the pews are based on first come-first serve. But in 1775, the pews were ‘owned’ by their occupants and passed down through families. One of the guides told us that the cost for a pew was the equivalent of what a middle class family might earn in a year today. Not cheap.

On the 200th anniversary of Paul Revere's ride, President Gerald Ford hung a third lantern in the Old North Church to inspire hope, peace and prosperity.

On the 200th anniversary of Paul Revere’s ride, President Gerald Ford hung a third lantern in the Old North Church to inspire hope, peace and prosperity.

The British had two objectives: one to arrest the Colonial leaders, John Hancock and John Adams, who were in Lexington at the time— and two, to go on to Concord and seize gunpowder that the Colonialists were storing in case the disagreement with Britain came down to war. Thomas Gage, the commanding general of the British forces in Boston, had been very secretive about his plans, but not secretive enough.

The plans were discovered, two lanterns were hung in the Old North Church, and Revere along with two other riders set out on their midnight rides. Hancock and Adams escaped and hundreds of militia from surrounding towns, known as Minute Men for their readiness to fight on a moment’s notice, grabbed their muskets and streamed toward Lexington and Concord. A shot was fired in Lexington and a battle ensued. It is still debated whether the British or the Colonialists fired first.

While the British won the first round, they marched on to Concord where they were met by a much larger group of Minute Men. Another battle started and the British decided it was time to return to Boston. Somewhat in disarray, the British troops hurried along the road as the ‘rebels’ took potshots at them in their hasty retreat. The Minute Men had proven that they could effectively fight against the much better trained British troops.

While the Declaration of Independence was still a year off, the Revolutionary War was underway.

Another view of Paul Revere on his ride to warn that the Redcoats were coming.

Another view of Paul Revere on his ride to warn that the Redcoats were coming.

Paul Revere's home on the Freedom Trail in Boston, Massachusetts.

Paul Revere’s home, snuggled up to a taller building, is a few blocks away from the Old North Church. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Another view of Revere's home.

Another view of Revere’s home. Revere was a noted silversmith of his time and a successful businessman.

The poem that made Revere a household name for generations of Americans following its publishing date in 1861.

The poem that made Revere a household name for generations of Americans.

Paul Revere's tombstone in the Granary Graveyard, a place where will visit in our blog next week.

Paul Revere’s tombstone in the Granary Graveyard, a place we will visit in our blog next week.

NEXT BLOGS:

Wednesday: Back to the Sierra Trek for the route preview, heart-break, a trip to Canada, and 20 cases of Ham Cheddarton.

Friday: The first 2017 post on Burning Man. Part one of a series of photographic essays selected from several thousand photos Peggy, I and several friends have taken at the event since 2004.

26 comments on “Paul Revere Still Rides… Boston Part 2

  1. My second cousin, Grant Wood, painted ‘The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere’. Also ‘American Gothic’. By the way, Longfellow’s poem uses considerable poetic licence. Revere’s ride came after the Redcoats had already arrived.

    • I think people will keep on marching, although such enthusiasm is hard to maintain. My guess is that Trump will continue to inspire all out efforts.
      I was amazed at the cost of the pews, Gerard. It did speak to the rather exclusive nature of the Anglican Church at the time.
      Thanks! –Curt

    • I was lucky in my youth to have some really good history teachers, Sylvia. (I also had some bad ones that would turn anyone off on the subject.) We are lucky today to have some very talented authors that can make history exciting. And school history books seem better to me. –Curt

  2. You just made history interesting for me. 🙂 I love those box pews! All of the historic sites you photographed seem so much more appealing than they did when I was actually in Boston, wondering what to do with myself.

    • Boston gets me excited about history, Juliann. I have always felt that teachers have to work to make history seem boring. We do such a disservice to young people. Next time, before you go to Boston, read Nathaniel Philbrick’s “Bunker Hill.” It will bring historic Boston alive for you. –Curt

  3. I know almost nothing about American history (I’m Singaporean), but your descriptions made me curious to find out more. And that church looks very ornate, even if it was a tad exclusive in those days. Hope you’ll keep writing more about your travels 🙂

  4. Wow! I loved this post. I just am so fascinated by American History. My dad’s side of the family (Laird side) goes back to the Revolutionary War!

    Paul Revere: the original Midnight Rider.

    • Laughing… except you would probably have mom and dad in there with you! I grew up as an Episcopalian. We didn’t have the boxed pews but that didn’t stop the mischief my bother and I got into. One thing that I remember is we were recruited to carry the US and state flag in the procession and sat up front with the choir. When we got bored we would wind the tassels on flags up and watch them whirl around. We could actually feel the glare of out parents as we entertained the congregation. 🙂 –Curt

  5. I don’t remember ever seeing boxed pews, although I sure must have. The photos did remind me of the time I attended worship at St. Thomas in NYC. Everyone was very nice, but I was a bit startled to discover the coffee hour after the service was a sherry hour, with finger sandwiches.

    One of my readers, a member of the Philbrick clan (a cousin, I believe) put me on to Nathaniel’s sailing books. He’s a fine writer, for sure.

    • Sounds very Episcopalian to me, Linda. 🙂 I was raised in the church and our minister could down his sherry with the best.
      Philbrick makes history live, a talent I consider a real plus in an historian. I also enjoyed his book on the Mayflower. –Curt

  6. Lovely shots from some of Boston’s famous landmarks. It is such a fabulous city for history. So many places where I said to myself, “Omigosh! It happened right here.” I haven’t been inside the North Church – very interesting boxes inside. Surprising on one hand that people would pay for their own non-contaminated spot in church. But then… not so surprising.

    • We were feeling the same thing, Crystal. The history approaches a mythic level in relation to the US and who we are. As for the church, it was definitely an elitist place at the time. –Curt

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s