Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride 

U.S. #1059A – Revere went on to serve as a lieutenant colonel during the war and silversmith in the years after.

On April 18, 1775, Paul Revere took his historic ride to warn the people of Lexington and Concord that the British were coming.

Born in Boston, Paul Revere was a leader in the patriot group known as The Sons of Liberty, whose members participated in the Boston Tea Party. In 1774, he was hired by the Boston committee of Correspondence and the Massachusetts Committee of Safety to work as an express rider. In that role, he would carry news, messages, and copies of resolutions to and from New York and Philadelphia.

In the spring of 1775, British Army soldiers were stationed in Boston, where their numbers had grown since the Boston Tea Party. The British planned to disarm the residents of the Massachusetts colony and imprison its leaders.

U.S. #UX58 – Paul Revere First Day Postal Card.

Wanted by the British for their role in the independence movement, Samuel Adams and John Hancock fled to Lexington, where they stayed with Hancock’s relatives. Revere was then called to meet with Dr. Joseph Warren, who asked him to ride to Lexington to warn Hancock and Adams that the British were coming to arrest them.

The weekend before his planned ride, Revere spoke with fellow members of the Sons of Liberty, and they arranged a lantern signal using the bell-tower of North Church to warn of the British approach. The signal would be sent by lighting one lantern if they marched by land or two if they rowed “by sea” across the Charles River to Cambridge.

U.S. #UY22 – Revere First Day Postal Card.

On the evening of April 18, Revere traveled to the North Church to have the patriots stationed there light two lanterns to alert Charlestown that the British would arrive by sea. Two associates then rowed Revere across the Charles River. Once across, he borrowed a horse and set out on his ride. Along the way to Lexington, he stopped at each house that he passed to warn them that the British were coming.

Revere reached Lexington around midnight and approached the house where Adams and Hancock were staying. The man guarding the house told him he made too much noise, but Revere replied, “Noise! You’ll have noise enough before long. The regulars are coming out!” He then went inside and warned Adams and Hancock.

U.S. #4124 – Despite its historical inaccuracies, Longfellow’s poem made Revere and his ride a memorable part of American lore.

With that part of his mission complete, Revere prepared to continue on to Concord, where a large amount of weapons and supplies were hidden. Before leaving town he met William Dawes, another rider who’d received the same mission but left from a different town. They were also joined by a third rider, Dr. Samuel Prescott. However, the three men were caught by a British patrol shortly after joining up, jeopardizing their mission to warn the people of Concord. Prescott and Dawes both escaped shortly after being taken, but Revere was held for much longer. After he was released he had to walk back to Lexington, where he witnessed part of the battle on the Lexington Green. Along the way, he also helped Adams and Hancock who were on their way to Woburn, Massachusetts. In the end, only Prescott made it to Concord in time to warn the militia of the British approach.

Click here for an interactive map of Revere’s ride and here to read Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem that romanticized the ride.

Click the images to add this history to your collection.

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  1. Another good article that gives more information than was ever learned in history class or from the text books in school.

    1. To Noah – Forgive me if I am making an assumption here, and I apologize to all those coaches who actually make a valid attempt, but was your class taught by a coach? I taught all those things when I was active. This is more of a comment on school policies of filling coaching positions first and placing them in Social Studies positions rather than honoring our nation’s story by hiring those with historical credentials to teach it. Sigh.

  2. Events such as these that used to be important are sloughed off for a different agenda in our schools. Happy for your articles

  3. I grew up in the Boston area, lived 8 years in Lexington where I bought my first house on Red Coat Lane with my GI Loan in 1959. April 18th was a holiday in Lexington then. Is it still? Enjoyed the local early morning celebration with a family parade. Later came the reenacted ride of Paul Revere and big official parade. Legend had it that the reenactor was sometimes too drunk to stay on his horse. And that the reenactor would gallop to Somerville to have the horse loaded onto a horse trailer, to be remounted just outside Lexington so that he could come galloping into the Lexington Green. Incidentally, most historians suggest that Revere probably didn’t call out, “The British are coming!”, because he and other colonists were themselves British. More likely: “The Regulars are coming,” or “The Redcoats are coming.” Wonderful memories of a special day. Thanks to you people at Mystic.

  4. All this talk about “the British are coming” is misleading. All of those concerned colonists at the time were British, including Revere, Dawes and Prescott. Warning everyone that the British were coming would be a bit like riding down Main Street today warning that “the Americans are coming”. Those being warned about were actually the regular (regulars) soldiers of the army stationed in the area who were about to be mobilized to round up troublesome British citizens such as Hancock and Adams.

  5. I always cringe when people like Noah and Wade say that they never heard about such things as this in school. As a high school history teacher fro 38 years, I have to say that maybe they were the students who paid little attention to what was being taught and covered in the textbooks, and I had my share. I can tell both of them that I taught my kiester off about the events leading up to, during, and after the American Revolution. And Ted, I accept your apology. I was a coach, but I always thought that I was a teacher first and a coach second.

    1. I can’t agree with you more. All the coach/history teachers I’ve known were passionate about their teaching. Whenever someone says something wasn’t taught, it’s very obvious they just weren’t listening. Today the internet is the “information super highway” and ALL knowledge is virtually at your fingertips. So if you don’t know something it’s nobodys fault but your own. There are no excuses but laziness.

  6. This really shows how important our stamps are. In this age of computers and inciped youth, these stamps are going to be our only tangible source of history. It’s so important to retain the oral history among stamp collectors- as they may be the only thing left standing.

    1. Read the above. Computers/tablets/phones have access to more knowledge than at any time in history. The problem is people. They’re lazy or they don’t understand how to use the devices properly.

  7. There was a third historical event on April 18–something about an earthquake in San Francisco in 1906. Maybe next year at this time someone will write about it.

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