April 25, 2014

Revere vs. Palin

Posted on June 7, 2011 by in Opinion


By now everyone in political circles has heard about Palin’s visit to Boston where she made the following statement about Paul Revere:

“He who warned the British that they weren’t going to be taking 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…”

Palin’s quote came from this video:

There are blogs, tweets, and Facebook wall posts galore claiming that Sarah was correct. And there are just as many social web opinions ripping her apart over her statements fitting the usual Palin-bashing.

But did Revere do the things Palin claimed? Here’s part of Revere’s own account:

“I observed a wood at a small distance and made for that. When I got there, out started six officers on horseback and ordered me to dismount. One of them, who appeared to have the command, examined me, where I came from and what my name was. I told him. He asked me if I was an express. I answered in the affirmative. He demanded what time I left Boston. I told him, and added that their troops had catched aground in passing the river, and that there would be five hundred Americans there in a short time, for I had alarmed the country all the way up. He immediately rode towards those who stopped us, when all five of them came down upon a full gallop. One of them, whom I afterwards found to be a Major Mitchel, of the 5th Regiment, clapped his pistol to my head, called me by name and told me he was going to ask me some questions, and if I did not give him true answers, he would blow my brains out. He then asked me similar questions to those above.”

No mention about warning bells, warning shots, or arms, in this context, in Revere’s own story.

In “Paul Revere’s Ride” (by David Hackett Fischer) the author writes that there were 2 noted instances of gunfire, one singular shot first, and later, one volley of multiple guns, as the British approached Lexington Green. At this time, Revere had already been captured, and was traveling by horseback encircled by 10 British regulars who were also on horseback. Revere told his British captors that the first singular shot was a signal to “alarm the country”. Seeing that the British were troubled by this claim of Revere’s, Jonathan Loring, another captive held and traveling with the British, remarked about the bells they heard on their approach to Lexington Green, “The bell’s a’ringing! The town’s alarmed, and you’re all dead men.”

Words do mean things. Nothing in any account of Revere’s, or anyone else’s, has Revere firing shots, ringing bells, or even warning the British that they “weren’t going to be taking away our arms”, as Palin states. There were shots fired. There were bells being rung. There was what one could twist with tremendous liberty into a “warning”, but that was more an attempt on Revere’s part to intimidate the British than to warn them. However, history doesn’t match the word salad that Sarah served up.

What was Revere’s mission that historical night? ABC interviewed, Kristin Peszka, director of interpretation and visitor’s services at the Paul Revere House, which Palin visited Thursday, who was quote as saying:

“Revere’s assignment that night was to go to Lexington to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock that British troops were moving in that direction from Boston.” (Peszka noted that Palin offered her convoluted account before touring the historic site.)

Finally, here’s Sarah doubling down on historical inaccuracies when asked about her original comments in another video recently:

“You know what? I didn’t mess up about Paul Revere. Here’s what Paul Revere did. He warned the Americans that “the British were coming, the British were coming.”

Guess who never said, “the British are coming”…  you’d be correct if you guessed Revere.

Conservatism depends on the truth. Conservatism doesn’t rely on Palin being right or wrong, and I hope your conservatism doesn’t depend on defending “word-saladsmithing”. You can choose to learn, or you can choose to adopt false narratives to justify idol worship/over-zealous admiration of public figures.

Yeah, someone had to say it.

Share with your friends
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • email
  • Digg
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Google Buzz
  • del.icio.us
  • Print

Tags: , , ,