Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of ....
WAIT! Israel Bissel? Wasn't it Paul Revere who made that famous ride to
warn the colonist that the British were about to attack on April 19, 1775?
Well...yes and no.
Israel Bissel was a post-rider in Massachusetts born in East Windsor,
Connecticut who alerted the colonists of the British attack on April 19, 1775.
He rode for four days and six hours covering the 345 miles from
Watertown, Massachusetts to Philadelphia along the Old Post Road. He was
carrying a message from General Joseph Palmer. The message was copied at each of
his stops, and he shouted "To arms, to arms, the war has begun."
Paul Revere also rode to alert the colonists of the impending attack but
he rode a mere 19 miles from Boston to Cambridge.
So how did Paul Revere get all of the glory in history when Israel Bissel
rode more than 18 times as far and alerted far more colonists? Henry Wadsworth
Longfellow, the most popular and widely read author of that time, realized that
America was in need of a patriotic hero, to reunite the states and prevent the
US Civil War. Longfellow needed a name that sounded like a true American hero.
He decided that Paul Revere had a heroic name compared to Israel Bissell, and
Revere was chosen as the man who warned the colonies in his classic tale "The
Midnight Ride of Paul Revere". Longfellow's choice may also have been shaped by
his wife being related to Paul Revere.
Even in 1775 the media shaped our perception of history.