Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Many Rides of Paul Revere
By James Cross Giblin
Most enjoyed by history lovers in 5th through 8th Grade

Many of us are familiar with Paul Revere thanks to the well-known poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow that begins, "Listen, my children, and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere'. Prior to the publication of Longfellow's poem, most folks didn't know much about Paul Revere. Fortunately, Paul gained quite a bit of fame from the poem (even though he had been dead for about fifty years by the time it was published) and thanks to James Cross Giblin, we can learn a lot more about Paul in his excellent new book 'The Many Rides of Paul Revere'.

Paul Revere can be considered a master of high-speed communication, 18th century style. The son of a French silversmith, Paul learned the trade from his father. Early on, he established his artistic skill with silver and eventually took over the business when his father passed away. But Paul wasn't content to limit his work to silversmithing. In time, he built a metal foundry and the country's first copper sheeting factory. When times got tough for Paul financially, he learned how to be a dentist and make false teeth. But it was Paul's skill at horse riding that made him invaluable for early America.

America was still ruled by England when Paul was crafting with silver in the 1760's. Tensions between England and America were beginning to boil during the years following the French and Indian war as England began to put a series of taxes on the American colonists. Paul joined a group called the Sons of Liberty who met regularly to discuss ways America could stand up to England. Communication in those days was done by mail or messenger so when the Sons of Liberty needed to communicate with leaders in New York or Philadelphia, they sent Paul Revere racing off on the fastest horse he could find. Paul was able to travel great distances in short amounts of time, taking little time to rest. This skill made him the logical person to choose when word reached Boston that the British were planning a military move on the nearby towns of Lexington and Concord. It was Paul's idea to ask the caretaker of Old North Church in Boston to hang one lamp in the steeple if the British were traveling by land, two lamps if by sea. The steeple could be seen by everyone in Boston, allowing the other Sons of Liberty to arm themselves. Paul rowed across the Charles River in the dark, reaching the other side in time to mount a horse and ride off to warn the towns of Lexington and Concord that the British were coming. As you'll read in 'The Many Rides of Paul Revere', this ride didn't go quite as Paul had planned. And it certainly wasn't his last.

History lovers, make sure you read 'The Many Rides of Paul Revere'. It's a fascinating look at a man who is perhaps best known for his silver and one famous horse ride, but who was really so much more. The book isn't long, it's pace is fast (like Paul and his horse) and will keep you turning the pages to find out if and when Paul ever gets caught by the British (I won't tell!) What I liked best about the book is the section in the back that lists the places and buildings from Paul's time that still stand today and are open for tours. Part of the rode the Americans used to follow the retreating British from Concord to Lexington in 1775 has been turned into a walking path. Wouldn't it be cool to hike the path and imagine yourself as a patriot hiding in the brush, trying to capture a British soldier as he flees toward Boston? Make your travel plans now, but in the meantime, get familiar with Paul Revere by reading 'The Many Rides of Paul Revere'.

No comments: