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Paul Revere's Ride

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  • Edward
    List: I ve been a member of this list for six or eight years, but don t nremember ever posting, though I review the posts daily. My daughter and I have been
    Message 1 of 5 , Dec 8, 2012
      List:

      I've been a member of this list for six or eight years, but don't nremember ever posting, though I review the posts daily. My daughter and I have been reading a book by Malcolm Gladwell called "The Tipping Point," which is not about the American War for Indpendence. In it, however, he tries to illustrate one of his central concepts by descibing how Paul Revere was more successful at spreading news of the British troop movement out of Boston in April, 1775 than his fellow rider William Dawes. Gladwell writes that Revere effectively spread the alarm as far as Worcester and got many minutemen nto muster at Lexington and Concord, while Dawes' ride towards Waltham resulted in significantly fewer minutemen turning out. Gladwell writes that this was due to Revere's having greater status as a social connector.

      I discussed with my daughter that I have some reservations about the author's historical interpretation. He provides no notes or bibliography to cite his sources. I'm interested in your thoughts on this author's interpretation. Are the members of this list aware of any documentary basis for this author's illustration? Am I incorrect in remembering that Revere was detained by British troops before he finished alarming the towns he was supposed to have reached?

      Ed Niven
      Sutherland's Company, 71st Regiment of Foot
    • Paul O'Shaughnessy
      It is true that Revere is detained by a patrol about halfway between Lexington and Concord, probably sometime between 2 and 3 am the morning of April 19th.
      Message 2 of 5 , Dec 9, 2012
        It is true that Revere is detained by a patrol about halfway between Lexington and Concord, probably sometime between 2 and 3 am the morning of April 19th. His horse is taken and he walks back to Lexington, where he is instrumental in saving a trunkload of papers from discovery just before the incident on the Green.

        So, Revere personally, physically cannot have gotten out as far as Worcester that night. I suspect the author's point is that Revere is a leader of the movement and is indirectly responsible for many of the riders that night, indeed the whole alarm rider system. That night, he attracts Dr. Prescott to accompany Dawes and he on the road to Concord - a good thing for them, as it's Prescott who evades the patrol and gets through.

        This is a theme touched on several times by David Hackett Fisher in Paul Revere's Ride. Revere is the Zelig of the revolt in Massachusetts. He's constantly riding to the countryside, to New York, etc., to maintain correspondence and spread word. So, when the crisis came, he wasn't some stranger in the night - he was a familiar and trusted face.

        Paul O'Shaughnessy
        10th Regiment of Foot


        --- In Revlist@yahoogroups.com, "Edward" <pvtflash@...> wrote:
        >
        > List:
        >
        > I've been a member of this list for six or eight years, but don't nremember ever posting, though I review the posts daily. My daughter and I have been reading a book by Malcolm Gladwell called "The Tipping Point," which is not about the American War for Indpendence. In it, however, he tries to illustrate one of his central concepts by descibing how Paul Revere was more successful at spreading news of the British troop movement out of Boston in April, 1775 than his fellow rider William Dawes. Gladwell writes that Revere effectively spread the alarm as far as Worcester and got many minutemen nto muster at Lexington and Concord, while Dawes' ride towards Waltham resulted in significantly fewer minutemen turning out. Gladwell writes that this was due to Revere's having greater status as a social connector.
        >
        > I discussed with my daughter that I have some reservations about the author's historical interpretation. He provides no notes or bibliography to cite his sources. I'm interested in your thoughts on this author's interpretation. Are the members of this list aware of any documentary basis for this author's illustration? Am I incorrect in remembering that Revere was detained by British troops before he finished alarming the towns he was supposed to have reached?
        >
        > Ed Niven
        > Sutherland's Company, 71st Regiment of Foot
        >
      • donhagist
        I ve read Tipping Point , and beleive that Gladwell presents a cogent and valid theory. One must, however, take it in the context of Gladwell s presentation
        Message 3 of 5 , Dec 9, 2012
          I've read "Tipping Point", and beleive that Gladwell presents a cogent and valid theory. One must, however, take it in the context of Gladwell's presentation style. He is an eloquent theorist, very good at finding examples that support this theories IF his theories are in fact accurate. Many of the individual case studies he uses in "Tipping Point" have been attributed by other theorists to causes different from what Gladwell proposes - the crime rate reduction in New York, for example, has been ascribed to a variety of causes. Many of the phenomena that Gladwell discusses are complex, likely caused by many factors. Gladwell carefully emphasizes his own causality without proposing counter-arguments.

          And so it is with his treatment of Paul Revere. It cannot be argued that Revere was highly influential in creating the network that carried information on the night of 18-19 April. Many messengers carried information that night. Judging the "effectiveness" of any individual is extremely difficult. The best treatment of the subject is "Paul Revere's Ride" by David Hackett Fischer. There are a couple of chapters that focus on specifics of the message-carrying network, the dozens of men who were part of it, and the individual accomplishments of a number of those men. Reading Fischer's work is an excellent way to judge for yourself how accurate Gladwell is.

          The key point to remember is that Fischer, as a historian, attempts to be "accurate" while Gladwell, as a social theorist, attempts to be "thought provoking."

          Don N. Hagist
          http://revolutionaryimprints.com
          http://redcoat76.blogspot.com

          --- In Revlist@yahoogroups.com, "Edward" <pvtflash@...> wrote:
          >
          > List:
          >
          > I've been a member of this list for six or eight years, but don't nremember ever posting, though I review the posts daily. My daughter and I have been reading a book by Malcolm Gladwell called "The Tipping Point," which is not about the American War for Indpendence. In it, however, he tries to illustrate one of his central concepts by descibing how Paul Revere was more successful at spreading news of the British troop movement out of Boston in April, 1775 than his fellow rider William Dawes. Gladwell writes that Revere effectively spread the alarm as far as Worcester and got many minutemen nto muster at Lexington and Concord, while Dawes' ride towards Waltham resulted in significantly fewer minutemen turning out. Gladwell writes that this was due to Revere's having greater status as a social connector.
          >
          > I discussed with my daughter that I have some reservations about the author's historical interpretation. He provides no notes or bibliography to cite his sources. I'm interested in your thoughts on this author's interpretation. Are the members of this list aware of any documentary basis for this author's illustration? Am I incorrect in remembering that Revere was detained by British troops before he finished alarming the towns he was supposed to have reached?
          >
          > Ed Niven
          > Sutherland's Company, 71st Regiment of Foot
          >
        • Boston 1775
          Ed Niven wrote:
          Message 4 of 5 , Dec 9, 2012
            Ed Niven wrote:
            <<My daughter and I have been reading a book by Malcolm Gladwell called "The Tipping Point," which is not about the American War for Indpendence. In it, however, he tries to illustrate one of his central concepts by descibing how Paul Revere was more successful at spreading news of the British troop movement out of Boston in April, 1775 than his fellow rider William Dawes. Gladwell writes that Revere effectively spread the alarm as far as Worcester and got many minutemen nto muster at Lexington and Concord, while Dawes' ride towards Waltham resulted in significantly fewer minutemen turning out. Gladwell writes that this was due to Revere's having greater status as a social connector.

            I discussed with my daughter that I have some reservations about the author's historical interpretation. He provides no notes or bibliography to cite his sources. I'm interested in your thoughts on this author's interpretation. Are the members of this list aware of any documentary basis for this author's illustration? Am I incorrect in remembering that Revere was detained by British troops before he finished alarming the towns he was supposed to have reached?>>


            Gladwell's analysis is probably based on David Hackett Fischer's book PAUL REVERE'S RIDE. Fischer notes that:
            1) Revere was a documented member of many Patriot and Patriot-affiliated groups, such as the men who dined at the Liberty Tree Tavern in 1769, the St. Andrew's Lodge of Freemasons, the North End Caucus, &c. Dawes wasn't a member of so many. Fischer has lists of those memberships in an appendix.
            2) The towns along Revere's route out to Lexington received word of the British march and mobilized hours before the towns along Dawes's ride to the south. Indeed, the town of Waltham never mobilized at all. There's a revealing map of this pattern in Fischer's book.

            Fischer therefore posits that Revere was a natural networker with lots of connections, which made it easy for him to alert the militia officers in the towns he rode through well north of the Charles River.

            There are some flaws with Fischer's analysis, and greater ones with Gladwell's application of it. For example, Fischer's list of men associated with the Boston Tea Party comes from TEA LEAVES, published a century after the event and therefore probably missing some names while also containing a number of false positives.

            Dawes was also a networker, but his network is less documented, not one of those in Fischer's appendix. He was clerk of the Boston militia regiment before the war and therefore must also have known a lot of the Suffolk County militia officers outside Boston.

            Another issue to consider is what the two riders were trying to accomplish. Dr. Joseph Warren sent Dawes to alert Samuel Adams and John Hancock because he thought (erroneously) that the British march was probably aimed at arresting them. Dawes's mission was to get to Lexington as fast as possible without arousing any suspicion, so it probably made sense for him not to make a lot of noise along the way.

            Revere set out from Boston later, knowing that Dawes was already out and that a rider in Charlestown (never identified) had seen the lantern signals from the North Church. Revere therefore knew he was the backup plan. He also knew more about the preparations for the British army march. And he was riding farther out into the countryside than Dawes, away from likely army scouts. So his thinking about his mission might well have been different from Dawes's.

            Gladwell apparently boiled down Fischer's work to a tidy lesson about the value of networking. Revere's connections probably did contribute to what happened, but they weren't the only factor.

            After meeting in Lexington (Revere reached there half an hour before Dawes, who had a longer route), the two men decided to continue together to Concord. Along the way they met a local young physician, Samuel Prescott. All three roused householders along that road until they were stopped by British officers who had ridden out hours earlier. Prescott and Dawes escaped from those officers, but they held Revere for some hours.

            I actually think those British officers caused as much of the alarm as either Revere or Dawes. Lexington, Concord, Cambridge, and other towns were already on alert after people saw them pass through.

            J. L. Bell Boston1775@...

            Unabashed gossip about the start of the American Revolution at <http://www.boston1775.net>.

            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Robert
            Malcolm Gladwell in an interesting author because he makes you think about things from perspectives you d never entertained before. Although he is an engaging
            Message 5 of 5 , Dec 9, 2012
              Malcolm Gladwell in an interesting author because he makes you think about things from perspectives you'd never entertained before. Although he is an engaging and thought-provoking author, I have found him to be dead wrong when he interprets the American Revolution. In one essay, "David and Goliath," (I think?) he opines that the rebeling colonists made an enormous strategic blunder in attempting to field a conventional army and defeat the British in the field. In his opinion, the colonies should have continued to pursue a partisan war which had exhasuted the British, created an unpopular war in the home islands and demoralized the deployed troops. Looks good on paper, but in fact the colonies never executed a coordinated or concerted partisan war against the British. The closest friend the colonies had in Parliament was the almost incomprehensible Edmund Burke and the influential European allies, notably France and Spain, were not going to commit the infusion of cash and material necessary to wage war without evidence of a significant military victory in the conventional understanding. Had they been willing to bankroll a partisan war, I'm sure that could have happened, but their idea of victory conditions did not include that as a long-term option. Either Gladwell looked at the evidence and drew the wrong conclusion, or looked at the conclusion and found the wrong evidence to back it is your call, but I found he is simply mistaken when it comes to the American Revolution. I still read him, but I take him with a grain of salt. -Rob Weaver

              --- In Revlist@yahoogroups.com, "Edward" <pvtflash@...> wrote:
              >
              > List:
              >
              > I've been a member of this list for six or eight years, but don't nremember ever posting, though I review the posts daily. My daughter and I have been reading a book by Malcolm Gladwell called "The Tipping Point," which is not about the American War for Indpendence. In it, however, he tries to illustrate one of his central concepts by descibing how Paul Revere was more successful at spreading news of the British troop movement out of Boston in April, 1775 than his fellow rider William Dawes. Gladwell writes that Revere effectively spread the alarm as far as Worcester and got many minutemen nto muster at Lexington and Concord, while Dawes' ride towards Waltham resulted in significantly fewer minutemen turning out. Gladwell writes that this was due to Revere's having greater status as a social connector.
              >
              > I discussed with my daughter that I have some reservations about the author's historical interpretation. He provides no notes or bibliography to cite his sources. I'm interested in your thoughts on this author's interpretation. Are the members of this list aware of any documentary basis for this author's illustration? Am I incorrect in remembering that Revere was detained by British troops before he finished alarming the towns he was supposed to have reached?
              >
              > Ed Niven
              > Sutherland's Company, 71st Regiment of Foot
              >
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