19 April 1775
Every school child has heard the story of the midnight ride of Paul Revere, made famous in the poem by Henry Wadwsorth Longfellow. I was always fascinated by this story, but I don’t think I had ever read the poem itself. It is much longer than I realized – I thought it had three or four stanzas, but it is actually thirteen stanzas long. My grandparents lived on Paul Revere Road when I was a child. Maybe that is part of why I was drawn to the story.
Longfellow didn’t write “Paul Revere’s Ride” until 1860 – 85 years after the actual event. His line about hardly a man alive who remembers that famous day and year was right on and the poet took a few liberties in order to tell the story of the whole ride, but the basics are correct.
How well do you know the story of that night?
Paul Revere became famous for his midnight ride, but two other men rode with him. Can you name them?
William Dawes and Samuel Prescott
In the belfry arch of which church would the lantern be hung?
The Old North Church in Boston
Through which towns did Paul Revere ride, all mentioned in the poem?
Medford, Lexington and Concord (in the poem),
but also what is modern day Somerville and Arlington
This ride actually took place on the night of 18 April 1775, which led to the skirmishes with the British in Lexington and Concord the next day.
Paul Revere and William Dawes did not plan this mission on their own. They were actually sent by Joseph Warren to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock that the British planned to arrest them. Contrary to popular myth, no one shouted, “The British are coming!” Instead, the two men rode in secrecy. Revere and Dawes met up with Samuel Prescott because he knew the terrain in the area around Lexington and Concord. This was no short ride, as it is about twenty miles from Charlestown to Concord.
As we all know, the three men were successful with their plans, but they likely didn’t realize until much later on how their midnight ride hastened the start of the American Revolution.
If you have, or suspect that you have, colonial ancestors who either served in a military capacity or who aided the cause of freedom and are interested in hereditary societies, there are four such societies in the United States.
First, many do not realize that there is a children’s lineage society. I am mentioning them first because most readers will jump into the women’s and men’s societies information and perhaps not continuing reading about the National Society Children of the American Revolution. C.A.R., as it is often called, was organized in 1895 by Harriett Lothrop and is the largest children’s patriotic hereditary society in the world. Its mission statement states that “The National Society of the Children of the American Revolution trains good citizens, develops leaders and promotes love of the United States of America and its heritage among young people.”
Membership is open to children from birth up to their 22nd birthday. Members may apply for and become dual members of DAR, SAR and/or S.R. between the ages of 18 and 22.
The largest and best known of them is the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution.
DAR is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. I previously wrote a detailed post about public access to databases on the DAR website and how to use them. Membership is open to women aged eighteen years and older. Also, if you live in the DC area, you can visit the DAR Library at 1776 D St. NW. As of last year, DAR dropped the $10 daily visitors fee charged to non-members. The library is now free and open to the public.
The third organization is the National Society Society Sons of the American Revolution, organized on 30 April 1889, the centennial anniversary of the inauguration of President George Washington. This lineage society is open to men aged eighteen years and older. Current membership stands at 32,000 members.
The fourth and last adult society is the General Society Sons of the Revolution was organized on 18 December 1875 in New York.
The aims of all of theses societies are similar. From the Sons of the Revolution (GSSR) website is an explanation of the differences between the two men’s organizations:
To get back to the two Societies: the aims and purposes of each are practically the same. The requirement for membership, however, differ somewhat. While both recognize lineally descendants of ancestors who participated in the Revolutionary War in a military or naval capacity in behalf of American independence, or as official or individual whose service was of sufficient importance to have rendered him liable to conviction of treason against Great Britain, the S.A.R. will accept other services not considered by the S.R. These are descent from a justice of the peace, a member of a coroner’s jury, surveyor of highways, associator, persons rendering various types of patriotic or civil service, etc. The D.A.R. has patterned its requirements after the S.A.R.: consequently D.A.R. lineages cannot always be accepted by the Sons of the Revolution.
Each of these societies is much more than a lineage society, as they support numerous projects created by their local chapters and members and also support projects of non-profit organizations that are related to Historic Preservation, Education and Patriotism.
Visit their websites to learn more about specific requirements for membership and the goals of each society.