Oops. It’s 1773 all over again. Roughly a jillion snarky bloggers have taken Sarah Palin to task because she supposedly didn’t know who Paul Revere warned on his midnight ride. I won’t bore you with all of them. But let’s start with the Christian Science Monitor. Peter Grier explains that Ms. Palin, in describing the incident as including a warning to the British that they (the British) were not going to take away the arms — you know guns– of the Americans, and including descriptions of bell-ringing was obviously not familiar with Mr. Longfellow’s poem setting forth all of the facts of that ride. Alas. It appears that Mr. Longfellow is the one who wasn’t really accurate. And while some bloggers seemed to grumpily argue that if she got it right it must have been by accident, the fact that she had just visited Paul Revere’s house on June 2, might also account for the accuracy of her answer. The source of her facts was none other than Paul Revere, who wrote a letter to one of the founders of the Massachusetts Historical Society some 28 years after the ride, describing it, one might guess, for historical purposes.
According to the Christian Science Monitor story, she was asked what the importance of that ride was. That is a different question from “what was Paul Revere’s purpose in making the ride?”. Christopher Columbus’ purpose in sailing west from Europe was to find a new route to India. The importance of his trip is that he found two whole continents previously unknown to the Europeans.
The reason the British were marching on Lexington was to seize ammunition and arms held by the Americans whom they feared were planning to rise up against them. Revere and Dawes were riding to Lexington and Concord to warn Adams and Hancock. Revere was detained by British troops and told them that the Americans knew they were coming and would resist them, possibly in hopes of getting them to stand down.
One may disagree with Ms. Palin as to whether that was the importance of the ride. That is a matter of opinion. But her read on the facts is not incorrect.
Now– the importance of this brouhaha is that the press a) needs to have their collective nose rubbed in their own stupidity and condescending arrogance. That Longfellow got it wrong is not some obscure fact. Googling Paul Revere’s ride will bring up a dozen websites which beg to correct the record. Yet the press is so arrogant that they didn’t do their homework. And when Palin is proved right, they still don’t back down. Be aware that this not just about Sarah Palin, this is what they will do to any Republican candidate.