Sarah Palin yesterday insisted her claim at the Old North Church last week that Paul Revere “warned the British” during his famed 1775 ride — remarks that Democrats and the media roundly ridiculed — is actually historically accurate. And local historians are backing her up.
Palin prompted howls of partisan derision when she said on Boston’s Freedom Trail that Revere “warned the British that they weren’t going to be taking away our arms by ringing those bells and making sure as he’s riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be secure and we were going to be free.”
Palin insisted yesterday on Fox News Sunday she was right: “Part of his ride was to warn the British that were already there. That, hey, you’re not going to succeed. You’re not going to take American arms.”In fact, Revere’s own account of the ride in a 1798 letter seems to back up Palin’s claim. Revere describes how after his capture by British officers, he warned them “there would be five hundred Americans there in a short time for I had alarmed the Country all the way up.”
Boston University history professor Brendan McConville said, “Basically when Paul Revere was stopped by the British, he did say to them, ‘Look, there is a mobilization going on that you’ll be confronting,’ and the British are aware as they’re marching down the countryside, they hear church bells ringing — she was right about that — and warning shots being fired. That’s accurate.”
Patrick Leehey of the Paul Revere House said Revere was probably bluffing his British captors, but reluctantly conceded that it could be construed as Revere warning the British.
“I suppose you could say that,” Leehey said. “But I don’t know if that’s really what Mrs. Palin was referring to.”
McConville said he also is not convinced that Palin’s remarks reflect scholarship.
“I would call her lucky in her comments,” McConville said.
Meanwhile, the state’s Democratic Party held a thin blue line on the issue, insisting on mocking Palin despite a brief historical review of the matter. State party chairman John Walsh wise-cracked that the region welcomes all tourists, even those with “an alternative view of history.”
“If you believe he was riding through the countryside sending text messages and Tweets to the British, still come to Boston,” he said. “There are a lot of things to do and see.”
But Cornell law professor William Jacobson, who asserted last week that Palin was correct, linking to Revere quotes on his conservative blog Legalinsurrection.com, said Palin’s critics are the ones in need of a history lesson. “It seems to be a historical fact that this happened,” he said. “A lot of the criticism is unfair and made by people who are themselves ignorant of history.”