Most American schoolchildren hear the tale of Paul Revere's famous "Midnight Ride". Sadly, most of the story it not completely accurate.
The ride began at 11 pm not midnight but that is really a minor detail.
First, Paul Revere was not the only brave soul to put his life on the line that night. William Dawes and Revere were both sent out from Boston to Lexington to warn John Hancock and Samuel Adams of the advancement of the King's troops and their impending arrests. They were sent two different paths to ensure at least one would be successful. Both arrived in Lexington (Dawes about 30 minutes after Revere but Dawes was sent the long way around.) Along the way as the message spread at least 40, possibly more, other riders also set off with the alert as Revere and Dawes reached them. Some of these brave men were caught but none ever get the well deserved credit for their important part.
Second, the ride didn't really end in Lexington. Revere and Dawes decided after reaching Hancock and Adams to attempt to ride on to Concord. They had accomplished their goal but still amazingly decided to take the great risk to go on. At this point, a young physician, Samuel Prescott joined them. Unfortunately, the three men were detained at Lincoln, on the way to Concord. Prescott and Dawes escaped but Revere was walked back to Lexington at gunpoint before finally escaping as well.
Third, neither Paul Revere nor William Dawes would have been yelling, "the British are coming." Two reasons why this is true. For one, they weren't yelling at all. This was a very dangerous and secret mission. They could have easily been killed for what they were doing if caught. They did pass on the message but not by running through the streets screaming. The other is, at the time the colonists very much considered themselves Britons. They were still legally under British rule. While they were not happy with many of the King's policies they had yet to conclude the need to form an independent union. Instead, according to accounts, he actually, quietly told the others that, "The regulars are coming." in reference to the British "regular" soldiers.
People often mistakenly assume that during the colonial period everyone was just itching to break free from Great Britain but this simply wasn't alway the case.
While there are a few inconsistencies in the true story of Paul Revere and William Dawes the important thing is what they and so many others did. They stood up against tyranny willing to lose everything they had including their lives. By doing so, they have provided future American's unprecedented freedom. For that reason, I believe it is important to know what really happened and is why I set the record straight.