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There were actually 3 men involved in the 'Midnight Ride of Paul Revere'

By Paul Niemann

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[July 23, 2009]  You learned of the "Midnight Ride of Paul Revere" in history class, but did you know that there were actually three men involved in that mission?

InsuranceThe tale of Paul Revere's ride in the famous poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1861 was actually a composite of three men.

One was named William Dawes Jr.; another was Dr. Samuel Prescott. The third man was the son of Apollos Rivoire. He was a first-generation American whose parents were immigrants from France.

The mission of the three men was to get the news about the British invasion to the locals and to warn John Hancock and Samuel Adams that they were in danger of being arrested.


William Dawes was chased by the British and managed to escape, but he was unable to spread the word about them. Little is known about Dawes, but his great-great-grandson, Charles Dawes, was the 30th vice president of the United States. He served under Calvin Coolidge from 1925 to 1929.

Little is known about Samuel Prescott as well, but he was the one who spread the news about the British invasion. Like the other two men, he was chased by the British on that fateful night.

The third man, who was captured by the British, is very well-known, even to this day. He was born in Boston in 1734, the second of nine kids of Deborah and Apollos Rivoire Sr. He and his first wife, Sarah Orne, had eight children. After she died, he remarried and had eight more children with his second wife, Rachel Walker.

He was a master silversmith and engraver in Boston for more than 40 years, but it was his effort in the "Midnight Ride of Paul Revere" on the night of April 18, 1775, for which he is remembered.

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So where does that leave Paul Revere?

Paul Revere's father had changed his name from Apollos Rivoire to Paul Revere.

But you knew that all along, didn't you?

Like William Dawes, Paul Revere was a "junior." If his father hadn't changed his name from Apollos Rivoire to Paul Revere, then the "Midnight Ride of Paul Revere" might be known instead as the "Midnight Ride of Apollos Rivoire."

The saying "One if by land and two if by sea" refers to the placing of lanterns in Boston's Old North Church steeple as a way to signal that the British were coming.

And one more thing Paul Revere is misquoted in saying, "The British are coming." Revere called them "regulars," and what he really said was, "The regulars are coming."

Potato, potatoe.

Signing off from our home office in Quincy, I'm Apollos Niemann for Red, White & True Mysteries.


Paul Niemann's column has appeared in more than 80 newspapers and counting. He is the author of the "Invention Mysteries" series of books and can be reached at

Copyright Paul Niemann 2009

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