Did you know that for many years, historians and textbook writers of the American Revolution relied on Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem as historical evidence? Did you know that Longfellow’s poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride,” was inaccurate? It’s true.
At 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, Donald Hickey from Nebraska Humanities is coming to the library to give a power point program that features portraits, illustrations and maps. He will examine with us Paul Revere’s famous ride in 1775 and look at what people commonly think Revere did with what he actually did. Together we will also explore the role of other participants in the story, especially other riders who were active that night. In addition, we will examine why Henry Wadsworth Longfellow chose to immortalize Revere in a poem some 85 years later and how this poem shaped our understanding of the event. We will pay special attention to where Longfellow, either by accident or design, got the story wrong.
Truthfully, three men rode to warn John Hancock and Samuel Adams that the British were coming. The men not mentioned were William Dawes and Samuel Prescott. Dawes and Revere rode toward Concord, when Prescott joined them on their journey. All three men were stopped by the British troops in Lincoln, Massachusetts, on the road to Concord. Prescott and Dawes escaped, but Revere was detained, questioned and then escorted at gunpoint by British officers back to Lexington. Of the three riders, only Prescott arrived at Concord in time to warn the militia.
Eager to hear more details of our history that conflict with Longfellow’s poem? Everyone is welcome to come, free of charge, to learn the true history behind the “midnight” ride of Paul Revere.
Longfellow’s poem created a national legend of Paul Revere. Before the publishing of Longfellow’s poem, he was a little known silversmith, engraver, and early industrialist with many friends. Paul Revere’s fame materialized after the Civil War in the 1870s. Revere’s elevated historical importance also led to unsubstantiated rumors that he made a set of false teeth for George Washington. Because of Revere’s legendary status, authentic silverware made by him commanded high prices. For example, Wall Street tycoon J. P. Morgan offered $100,000 for a punch bowl Revere made.
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For more family fun, the Columbus Public Library is partnering with the Downtown Business Association to provide Downtown Trick or Treat from 4-6 Oct. 24. The library will have a craft for the children to assemble. They can decorate fall colored paper cups with funny or scary monster faces. Or they can create a Halloween scene on their cup with jack-o-lantern, spider, bat and cat stickers. After they finish decorating their cups, we have a hot chocolate packet for them to have a warm tasty treat when they get home. In case of bad weather, the librarians will set up their craft station in the main entrance of the library.
On the actual date of Halloween, Oct. 31, the library will have treats of candy and scented bookmarks for those that come to the library that day. Make sure to come and enjoy all that the library has to offer!
Kelli Keyes is the customer service manager at Columbus Public Library.