Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Paul Revere to Constitutional studies

Myth: Paul Revere waited for the message from the lanterns in the Old North Church before he began his ride.

Fact: Instead, he was actually the one that came up with that system and the one that told the sexton how many lanterns to hold up. BTW, 2 men only held the lanterns up in the tower for a few moments, not long enough for the British regulars to notice, so colonists in Charlestown would get the word in case both Revere and Dawes were captured. Paul Revere knew which way the British would go before he ever left Boston since he was the one that delivered the message to the sexton.

Myth: There were only 2 riders carrying the message.

Fact: By the end of the night, there were probably 40 different riders taking the message to Lexington and Concord.

Myth: Paul Revere got through to John Hancock and Samuel Adams first.
Fact: Dr. Samuel Prescott was actually the one who reached John Hancock and Samuel Adams first. He was "a doctor who happened to be in Lexington 'returning from a lady friend's house at the awkward hour of 1 a.m.'" Made a good excuse for being out at such an unreasonable hour didn't it?

Myth: Paul Revere and William Dawes made it all the way to Concord.
Fact: All 3 of the "famous" riders, Prescott, Revere, and William Dawes were detained by the British in Lincoln but Prescott jumped his horse over a wall and escaped through woods. Dawes escaped also but fell off his horse shortly after, ending his ride. Revere was detained and questioned and escorted back toward Lexington. Upon hearing shots, they took his horse and left. Revere then helped Hancock and Adams escape with a trunk of Hancock's papers.

Myth: Paul Revere called, "The British are coming, the British are coming," as he rode through the countryside.
Fact: The colonists thought of themselves as British citizens so he would not have said that. Besides, there would have been British soldiers stationed all over. The message depended on secrecy from the British regulars so he would have quietly announced something like, "The regulars are coming out."
(Information from Wikipedia)

Okay, so this version is not quite as romantic as Longfellow's poem, Paul Revere's Ride, long memorialized and memorized by folks all over, but I think it might be more important.

First of all, Paul Revere was not particularly famous for the ride while he was alive. He didn't toot his own horn. Second, he wasn't concerned with whether he got the message through; he just wanted to be sure it got through.

How much can we, as average citizens learn from him? He did his duty and then some. He was very active in the Sons of Liberty, and it sounds like he spied for them. He followed his convictions, and he didn't pass off the hard work to someone else. What marvelous lessons!

So why am I posting this here on a homeschooling blog? Because today we attended an event on elections where I decided that I've postponed an in-depth study of the Constitution for too long. Tonight I pulled out a teacher's guide from the National Center for Constitutional Studies and discussed some of those ideas with the kids over dinner. (Learning seems to go better when the kids are eating. Why don't I remember that more?) The discussion around the dinner table, along with an assignment of writing a paper about key people led to questions of what role John Hancock played after signing the Declaration of Independence. Online searches on Hancock led us to Paul Revere. Don't ask. It's too convoluted. I think the boys will remember this though.

Oh, yeah. S-man will be researching George Washington; J-Dawg, Thomas Jefferson; and Jewell, John Adams. (I might have her research Abigail Adams instead since I think she would be more interested in her, and Abigail played a major role in those times.)

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