This year marks the 150th anniversary of one of the most important events in determining how Americans remember the start of the American Revolution: Henry W. Longfellow wrote and published “Paul Revere’s Ride.” Before then, Revere was recalled locally; now more people probably know his name and what (Longfellow wrote that) he did than know what Samuel Adams did for independence.
There are going to be a bunch of events examining and commemorating that poem in various ways, including lectures at the Boston National Historical Park and the Cyrus E. Dallin Art Museum (bet you didn’t know there was one of those, eh?), and poetry discussions at Longfellow’s house in Cambridge and his birthplace in Portland.
This Saturday three organizations are celebrating Longfellow’s 27 February birthday with free events tied to “Paul Revere’s Ride”:
- Longfellow National Historic Site is hosting a celebration at Mount Auburn Cemetery from 10:00 A.M. to noon. Nick Littlefield and Charles Ansbacher of the Boston Landmarks Orchestra will offer a multimedia presentation on how the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy recorded “Paul Revere’s Ride” to the orchestra’s musical setting. There will be tea, coffee, birthday cake, and for hearty bodies a wreath-laying ceremony at the Longfellow family plot.
- The Maine Historical Society (489 Congress Street, Portland) is also celebrating from 10:00 A.M. to noon. They expect Irwin Gratz of the Maine Public Broadcasting Network, Mayor Nick Mavodones, and State Representative Herb Adams reading from Longfellow's poetry, along with performances by puppeteer Blainor McGough and musical act Over A Cardboard Sea. There will also be craft activities, prizes, cake, and a birthday card to sign.
- The Wayside Inn in Sudbury, where Longfellow eventually set the telling of “Paul Revere’s Ride,” has its own celebration from 3:00 to 5:00 P.M. This will launch the town’s Longfellow Big Read, with free books for everyone signing up for book discussion groups. And of course cake.
Scholar Charles Bahne has unearthed other lines that Longfellow cut before publication, which pertain to a particular legend of 19 Apr 1775; we’ll share those details soon. The 150 Years of “Paul Revere’s Ride” site will grow over the next few months, just as the poem grew from April to November 1860.