Like a lot of stories, a lot of what we hear about history is often embellished or made up to tell a better story. When we read our history textbooks, we assume this isn’t the case, but half-truths, exaggerations, and outright myths are common in American history. Even worse, is the fact that many of these myths are taught to us in our earliest years, cementing their place in our minds until we discover the truth, which may be well into our adulthood.
One commonly told myth is that Paul Revere rode through the night to warn the colonists of an impending British invasion shouting, “The British are coming!” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere”, played a major role in embellishing this event. In reality, Revere mostly rode in silence to avoid getting caught by army patrols, although he was quickly caught by one. Also, he didn’t call his enemies “the British”, as many colonists still considered themselves to be British and loyal to the crown at the time. Instead, he used, “The regulars are coming out.” Eventually Revere’s service ended because of incompetence and he later developed a profitable foundry and hardware business and established the nation’s first successful sheet-copper mill.