Todd Andrlik, founder and editor of Journal of the American Revolution, and curator, author and editor of Reporting the Revolutionary War: Before It Was History, It Was News (Sourcebooks, 2012), has assembled and written a great piece of scholarship in regards to Paul Revere – specifically, how he was viewed by his contemporaries, using the lens of original newspapers of his day. An excerpt is as follows:
Because of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s famous poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride,” most people think that Revere was critical to the start of the Revolutionary War. In trying to dispel Longfellow’s myth of a lone hero, modern scholars have portrayed Revere as just one rider among dozens on 18-19 April 1775, and argued that his previous rides for the Patriot cause might have been more important. A survey of newspapers from 1774 and 1775 shows that in fact those earlier rides had made Revere prominent enough that he did stand out in reports of the fighting at Lexington and Concord, even as Massachusetts authorities kept the extent of his activities quiet.
Paul Revere was a man who wore many hats. He was well known throughout New England for his engravings, his silver work, his Masonic fellowship and his political activity. Plus, in 1774 and early 1775, Revere worked as an express rider for the Boston Committee of Correspondence and the Massachusetts Committee of Safety. He frequently carried letters, newspapers and other important communication between cities, including Boston, Hartford, New York and Philadelphia. Revere’s early dispatches related to some of the biggest American events of the eighteenth century, including the destruction of the tea, the Boston Port Bill and the Suffolk Resolves. In December 1774, at the age of 39, he rode to Portsmouth to alert local Patriot leaders that the Royal Navy was on its way to seize gunpowder and arms from Fort William and Mary. Newspaper printers would eagerly print Revere’s tidings, frequently attributing…
This is a must-read article! View Todd’s scholarship in its entirety at:
It was such a tragedy to America when Alexander Hamilton, the founding father of the United States, chief of staff to Washington in the Revolutionary War, and America’s first Secretary of the Treasury, was killed in a duel, an event he opposed but honor forced him to participate. His words from shortly before the duel are telling: ““My religion and moral principles are strongly opposed to the practice of dueling…My wife & children are extremely dear to me…I am conscious of no ill will to Col. Burr distinct from political opposition…But it was, as I conceive, impossible for me to avoid it…”. The report is found in the “Middlesex Gazette” newspaper of July 20, 1804 (see below).
His wounds at the hand of Aaron Burr–who curiously was Vice President at the time–would prove fatal. His comments give evidence to the value of honor among the early patriots, even when they lead to a tragic end.
“And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.”
(God, as written by Mark in Mark 3:25)
“United we stand, divided we fall.”
“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
“For united we stand; Divided we fall. And if our backs should ever be against the wall. We’ll be together…”
(The Brotherhood of Man)
Bringing people together is no small task. Those who have the ability to rally factions behind a common cause are few and far between. Those who can do so for a noble cause are a true rarity.
While we all acknowledge Abraham Lincoln’s efforts to this end as exemplified in both his “House Divided” speech and yet again in his “Gettysburg Address”, it was another relatively unknown true American patriot who was instrumental in doing the same soon after the close of the American Revolutionary War: Dr. Benjamin Rush. Below please find (and enjoy) the full text of “Address to the People of the United States”, which begins:
“There is nothing more common that to confound the terms of the American revolution with those of the late American war. The American war is over; but this is far from being the case with the American revolution.”,
“PATRIOTS of 1774, 1775, 1778—HEROES of 1778, 1779, 1780! come forward! your country demands your services!—Philosophers and friends to mankind, com forward! your country demands your studies and speculations! Lovers of peace and order, who declined taking part in the late war, come forward! your country forgives your timidity, and demands your influence and advice! Hear her proclaiming, in sighs and groans, in her governments, in her finances, in her trade, in her manufactures, in her morals, and in her manners, ‘THE REVOLUTION IS NOT OVER!’ “, Dr. Benjamin Rush, MD.
What a tremendous rally for all Americans to unite behind a noble cause: the establishment of a nation like none other!
To read the complete text of this amazing speech, go to: American Museum, January, 1787
If you have never traveled to Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, PA, it is certainly worth the trip. One of the centerpiece structures of the park is Christ Church, with its adjoining cemetery containing the remains of many of America’s Founding Fathers. Among the most noteworthy include those of Benjamin Franklin and his wife Deborah. We recently found a National Intelligencer from November 18, 1848 which speaks quite eloquently of both Franklin and the resting place of his remains:
Continuing with our discussion on the “most historic” reports to be found in newspapers, we have been discussing the events of American history by era, the last being the 1801-1860 era. This post will discuss the most significant event in American history of the post-Revolutionary War, 18th century era from 1784 thru 1800.
Much happened in American history during this brief 17 year period but I’m not so sure there are many events which qualify as the “most historic”. From 1784 to 1787 much effort was made to organize the loosely attached colonies into a cohesive whole (see Articles of Confederation as an example), which ultimately led to the Constitutional Convention and the resultant Constitution which remains to this day. Through the ratification process it was evident that more rights needed to be clarified, resulting in the Bill of Rights of 1789. During this same year the first presidential election happened and the federal government was established, and in subsequent years a permanent site was created for the federal government, the Native Americans’ concerns were dealt with as the nation crew beyond the original 13 states, The Whiskey Rebellion challenged the collection of federal taxes, Jay’s Treaty with England was consummated, and growing troubles with France & other nations put greater focus on formalizing a federal military. All these events and more played a role in molding America during these critical formative years.
But the most historic? My vote has to go with the creation of the Constitution. And a newspaper with the printing of this document would be a very prized addition to any collection.
What is your thought?