Jill Lepore on “Paul Revere’s Ride”

  • Jill Lepore has an interesting piece in the New York Times today (19-Dec-2010) about Longfellow’s famous poem Paul Revere’s Ride. Listen my children, and you shall hear / Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere. She describes how the poem, published on the same day that South Carolina seceded from the United States 150 years ago, is as much about the pending Civil War as about the Revolutionary one. This is another example where myths of American Independence are used to inform the present, which was Longfellow’s true intention. See NY Times Sunday Opinion.
JDN | 19-Dec-2010

Just hours after the king opened the new Parliament [in 1775, British Prime Minister Lord] North’s wife wrote that the pressure on her husband was every day more disagreeable. Indeed it will be impossible for him to bear it much longer. Since hearing of Bunker Hill, he had doubted that Britain could conquer America by force of arms. But when he hinted at resigning, George replied in a note, You are my sheet anchor. The king would further add, It has not been my fate in general to be well served. By you I have, and therefore cannot forget it. Loyal North would hold fast and true, even as his countenance grew gloomier, his language more melancholy. He had neither devised the war nor liked it, Walpole wrote, but liked his place, whatever he pretended.

Rick Atkinson
The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775—1777 (2018)