Episode 130: Paul Revere’s Ride Through History

On April 18, 1775, Paul Revere rode to Lexington, Massachusetts to spread the alarm that the Regulars were marching. Revere made several important rides between 1774 and 1775, including one in September 1774 that brought the Suffolk Resolves to the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia.

So why is it that we remember Paul Revere’s ride to Lexington and not any of his other rides?

Why is it that we remember Paul Revere on the night of April 18, 1775 and nothing about his life either before or after that famous ride?

Why is it that Paul Revere seems to ride quickly into history and then just as quickly out of it?

In this episode, we speak with four scholars to explore Paul Revere’s ride through history.

About the Series

The mission of episodes in the Doing History: To the Revolution! series is to ask not just “what is the history of the American Revolution?” but “what are the histories of the American Revolution?”

Episodes in this series will air beginning in Fall 2017.

The Doing History series is part of a partnership between Ben Franklin’s World and the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture.

Be sure to check out Doing History season 1, Doing History: How Historians Work.

About the Show

Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.

It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.

Each episode features a conversation with a historian who helps us shed light on important people and events in early American history.

Episode Summary

In this episode, we speak with Sarah J. Purcell, Jane Kamensky, Patrick Leehey, and Christoph Irmscher to explore Paul Revere’s ride through history.

During our exploration, these scholars reveal details about historical memory and how it works; facts about Paul Revere’s ride to Lexington on April 18, 1775; And information about why Paul Revere and his ride stick in our national memory.

What You’ll Discover

  • Differences between history and memory
  • American creation of national memory
  • How historical memory changes over time
  • Why we remember Paul Revere
  • John Singleton Copley’s portrait of Paul Revere
  • The staging of Revere for his portrait
  • Why Copley’s portrait of Revere is a paradox
  • What Revere’s portrait tells us about Paul Revere
  • Paul Revere’s early life
  • The apprentice experience and colonial tradecraft hierarchy
  • How Revere became involved in revolutionary politics
  • Paul Revere’s involvement with freemasonry
  • The North Caucus and Revere’s role in it
  • The Sons of Liberty
  • Revere’s work to further the revolutionary cause
  • Revere as a revolutionary courier
  • The Suffolk Resolves and Revere’s ride to Philadelphia
  • Paul Revere’s ride to Lexington
  • Revere’s military service
  • Revere’s post-war business and innovations
  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and how he became a poet
  • The state of poetry in the mid-19th century
  • Longfellow’s Tales of a Wayside Inn
  • Why Longfellow wrote Paul Revere’s Ride
  • Why Longfellow chose to write about Paul Revere
  • Why Paul Revere’s Ride has such staying power in our memory


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