Paul Revere warned the British?

Former half-term Gov. Sarah Palin (R) brought her “One Nation” bus tour to Boston yesterday, and visited the historic Old North Church. She then offered her own unique understanding of Paul Revere and his role in American history.

For those who can’t watch clips from your work computers, Palin told reporters about Revere, “He who warned, uh, the British that they weren’t gonna be takin’ away our arms, uh, by ringin’ those bells and, um, makin’ sure as he’s ridin’ his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that, uh, we were gonna be secure and we were gonna be free. And we were gonna be armed.”

For the record, Palin did not appear to be kidding.

In case anyone needs a refresher, Tim Murphy explained, “This is actually the opposite of everything Paul Revere did.”

He wasn’t sending any messages to the British soldiers who were about to move on the patriots’ weapons stockpiles and arrest key leaders. According to history, Revere was warning the Minutemen that the Brits were coming so these militia members could prepare. He did not ring any bellls. He instructed a friend to put either one or two lights in the tower of the Old North Church (“one if by land, two if by sea”). He did not fire any warning shots. His ride at the time was no act of symbolism; it was a stealth operation in support of a local resistance movement whose goals at that point remained largely undefined.

A couple of months ago, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) told New Hampshire voters, “You’re the state where the shot was heard around the world in Lexington and Concord.” It was one of the more absurd comments about colonial history from a prominent, national figure in quite a while.

Palin’s quote, it seems to me, is much worse.

Update: Reader N.B. has encouraged me to note that Revere was captured by the British officers after his ride and he told them the colonists had been warned. Palin’s description of events, most notably the historic ride, is still quite wrong.

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