Paul Revere's Ride

Front Cover
Oxford University Press, 1994 - Political Science - 445 pages
98 Reviews
Paul Revere's midnight ride is a legendary event in American history - yet it has been largely ignored by scholars, and left to patriotic writers and debunkers. Now one of the foremost American historians offers the first serious study of this event - what led to it, what really happened, what followed - uncovering a truth more remarkable than the many myths it has inspired. In Paul Revere's Ride, David Hackett Fischer has created an exciting narrative that offers new insight into the coming of the American Revolution. From research in British and American archives, the author unravels a plot that no novelist would dare invent - a true story of high drama and deep suspense, of old-fashioned heroes and unvarnished villains, of a beautiful American spy who betrayed her aristocratic British husband, of violent mobs and marching armies, of brave men dying on their doorsteps, of high courage, desperate fear, and the destiny of nations. The narrative is constructed around two thematic lines. One story centers on the American patriot Paul Revere; the other, on British General Thomas Gage. Both were men of high principle who played larger roles than recent historiography has recognized. Thomas Gage was not the Tory tyrant of patriot legend, but an English Whig who believed in liberty and the rule of law. In 1774 and 1775, General Gage's advice shaped the fatal choices of British leaders, and his actions guided the course of American events. Paul Revere was more than a "simple artizan", as his most recent biographer described him fifty years ago. The author presents new evidence that revolutionary Boston was a world of many circles - more complex than we have known. Paul Revere and his friendJoseph Warren ranged more widely through those circles than any other leaders. They became the linchpins of the Whig movement. On April 18th, 1775, Paul Revere played that role in a manner that has never been told before. He and William Dawes were not the only midnight riders to carry the Lexington alarm. This first careful study of that event finds evidence of more than sixty men and women who were abroad that night on the same mission. The more we learn about them, the more interesting Paul Revere's role becomes. More than any other figure, he organized that activity and set it in motion. That night, Paul Revere had many other adventures. He was captured by a British patrol, and was freed in time to rescue Hancock and Adams (twice) and save the secret papers of the Revolution. At sunrise he was present on Lexington Green when the first shots were fired, in what General John Galvin describes as "one of the least known of all American battles". Drawing on extensive new research, Fischer finds evidence that this conflict was very different from the spontaneous rising of patriot legend. The New England militia were elaborately organized and actively led. On the morning of April 19, 1775, they stood against Thomas Gage's Regular Infantry in fixed positions and close formations at least six times. Twice the Regulars were broken. In the afternoon, the American leaders changed their tactics. Now facing a larger enemy and artillery, they forged a moving "circle of fire" around the British force and maintained it for many hoursan extraordinary feat of combat leadership with citizen soldiers. After the fighting was over, many of these same men, including Paul Revere and Thomas Gage, fought thesecond battle of Lexington and Concord. This was a contest for what their generation was the first to call popular opinion, and even more decisive than the battle itself. Yankee leaders were victorious in spreading their version of events through the colonies. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Thomas Paine all testified that the news of Lexington was, in Adams's phrase, their revolutionary Rubicon. The true story of Paul Revere's ride is very different from the popular myth of the lone rider of the Revolution. It is also far removed from the heavy determinism of academic historiography. This is a tale of contingency, with great events hanging in the narrow balance. It is the story of free people, making hard choices. Most of all, it is about America's half-remembered heritage of collective action in the cause of freedom. When Paul Revere and his many friends alarmed the Middlesex countryside, they were carrying that message for us.
  

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
48
4 stars
42
3 stars
5
2 stars
2
1 star
1

Entertaining and well researched. - Goodreads
Extensively researched and very readable. - Goodreads
... i really enjoyed fischer's writing style. - Goodreads
great book with lots of in depth research. - Goodreads
Well researched and a very enjoyable book. - Goodreads
It was clearly very well researched. - Goodreads

Review: Paul Revere's Ride

User Review  - Kiki Hughes - Goodreads

I did not learn a lot of new facts about Revere, most I had read before. But he clearly depicts the events leading up to the famous night and then discusses that night. This is not boring history and ... Read full review

Review: Paul Revere's Ride

User Review  - Dan Schoenekase - Goodreads

Great book. Very good treatment of the context of Revere's ride and the extent of his involvement in the revolution. Read full review

Contents

General Gages Dilemma
30
First Strokes
44
The Powder Alarm September 1 1774
46
The Attack on Fort William and Mary December 14 1774
59
Mounting Tensions
65
The Mission
78
The Warning
93
The March
113
The Battle
202
A Circle of Fire
233
Percy at Lexington
243
Aftermath
261
News of Lexington April 19May 10 1775
272
Epilogue
281
Appendices
297
Historiography
327

The Capture
129
The Muster
149
The Great Fear
165
The First Shot
184
The Fight at Lexington April 19 1775
192
Bibliography
345
Abbreviations
373
Acknowledgments
423
Copyright

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (1994)


David Hackett Fischer is Warren Professor of History at Brandeis University. His books include the highly acclaimed Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America and Growing Old in America.

Bibliographic information