Before Amazon…Before UPS…Before Western Union…Before the Pony Express…

Before Amazon…Before UPS…Before Western Union…Before the Pony
Revere’s Midnight Ride by Edward Mason Eggleston

Recently, I’ve been reading Revolutionary War history, in particular Nathanial Philbrick’s Bunker Hill and Stacy Schiff’s The Revolutionary Samuel Adams. Both great reads by historians with a knack to turn past events into page turners.

In each book, one character keeps popping up again and again, always ahead of the crowd, always delivering urgent news just in the nick of time. Paul Revere.

Most of us are familiar with Longfellow’s classic opening:

Listen my children and you will hear

Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere

The poem immortalizes a singular feat of night riding, run-ins with British scouts, near escapes, and ultimate success. Written 87 years after the event, the 1860 ode came at a time when, on the cusp of an even bloodier war, Americans were in dire need of a heroic tale.

What most of us don’t learn—either in school or from Longfellow—is that Paul Revere’s midnight ride was just another jaunt for a man who delivered revolutionary messages all over the place, all the time.

Paul Revere had a particular set of credentials for his undertakings. He was a solid Son of Liberty, though not a member of the Loyal Nine, the inner sanctum who orchestrated rebellious activity. Thus, he could be completely trusted, yet, if captured, the rebellion would not lose its leader.

Neither author claims Revere to be an outstanding horseman, but he must have been. In page after page from 1768 right up through 1776, the guy delivered intelligence on time, every time. A record that could make even Jeff Bezos blush.

As the Boston troublemakers sought to bring other colonies to their cause and eventually declare a new nation, Paul Revere’s rides got longer. More than once, he rode all the way to Philadelphia to deliver messages too timely or controversial for regular post. Despite all his hours in the saddle, Revere managed to father sixteen children, which pretty much squelches the notion that horseback riding causes infertility in men.

After mentioning messenger Revere again and again, Philbrick took a sidebar that I find both humorous and apt:

In an age when communication between the colonies could take days and even weeks, Revere provided the patriots with a decided advantage over the less nimble British. But the peripatetic silversmith was much more than the colonial equivalent of a Pony Express rider.

What was that advantage? Paul Revere was a messenger spurred on by deep belief in the missives he delivered.

Happy Independence Day to all!

1720034751 813 Before Amazon…Before UPS…Before Western Union…Before the Pony
Paul Rever’e’s most famous ride. Map courtesy of Wikipedia

Before Amazon…Before UPS…Before Western Union…Before the Pony

About paulefallon

Greetings reader. I am a writer, architect, cyclist and father from Cambridge, MA.

My primary blog, theawkwardpose.com is an archive of all my published writing. The title refers to a sequence of three yoga positions that increase focus and build strength by shifting the body’s center of gravity. The objective is balance without stability. My writing addresses opposing tension in our world, and my attempt to find balance through understanding that opposition.

During 2015-2106 I am cycling through all 48 mainland United States and asking the question “How will we live tomorrow?” That journey is chronicled in a dedicated blog, www.howwillwelivetomorrw.com, that includes personal writing related to my adventure as well as others’ responses to my question.

Thank you for visiting.


Related Posts