This Day in Speech and Debate History... some of the most famous words in the American Revolution
Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’ poem, “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere”
On April 18th were some of the most famous words in American history, “The British are coming!” Actually, it was “The Regulars are coming out,” because at that time the majority of American colonialists still considered themselves to be British. Nevertheless, we salute Paul Revere and his advocacy.
While Paul Revere is mostly known for his Midnight Ride on April 18th warning Americans that British regular soldiers were coming, Revere was also one of the early American patriots to protest against British occupation of the 13 colonies.
Revere was an American silversmith, engraver, and early industrialist. In fact, his family business continues today as the Revere Copper Company with divisions in Rome, New York and Massachusetts.
Revere helped to organize an intelligence and alarm system to observe British military movements and warn the colonies. On April 18th the British army moved on the towns of Lexington and Concord, and so Revere and others rode in the middle of the night to warn colonial leaders.
Revere also participated in a number of protests against the British. He joined the Son of Liberty. He was one of the leaders of the Boston Tea Party. From December 1773 to November 1775, Revere served as a courier for the Boston Committee of Public Safety, traveling to New York and Philadelphia to report on the political unrest in Boston.
Revere also used his art as protest. He created political artifacts and engravings to protest the British including the famous engraving of the Boston Massacre. When King George III demanded that the Massachusetts assembly retract their Letter of protest against the 1767 Townshend Acts, Revere produced a bowl commemorating the Massachusetts assembly’s refusal.
On April 14th the British army received orders to move on the towns of Lexington, Concord and other locations and seize weapons and arrest colonial leaders including Samuel Adams and John Hancock.
Revere had instructed the North Church to send a signal by lantern to alert colonialists in Charlestown of the British army movements, “one if by land, two if by sea,” one lantern would signal by land and and two lanterns would signal “by sea.”
Revere crossed the Charles River by rowboat and slipped past the British warship. He rode on to Lexington and other towns to warn patriots along his route. Revere and other riders that night triggered a system of “alarm and muster” to warn Patriots and organize against the British. They were successful and people in towns 25 miles from Boston were aware of the army’s movements while they were still near Boston. The Patriot militia organized to confront the British troops in Concord where the British were forced to retreat.
And so we celebrate another Great Debater! If you are a student, then join your school's speech and debate team! If you do not have one, then start one! If you are an adult, then help support and volunteer at your local speech and debate league! There are many online resources like the greatdebatersonline.org that provides free speech and debate opportunities, speech and debate tournaments, speech and debate summer camps, and speech and debate clubs! Be Great! Be a Great Debater! - Erik Fogel, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.facebook.com/greatdebatersonline