Paul Revere's Ride
Book Discussion Guide
Chapters 8 and 9
Welcome to Chapters 8 and 9 of our Paul Revere's Ride Book Discussion Guide. Our American History Book Club is a great way to increase your knowledge of the Founding Fathers, their beliefs and hopes for America. Paul Revere's Ride by David Hackett Fischer provides an in depth look at the man Paul Revere,
but it is also gives a wonderful introduction to the mindset and
customs of New Englanders at the outbreak of the American Revolution.
This book will give you deep understanding into the motivations and
beliefs that caused the colonists to rise up against their British
Chapter 8 of Paul Revere's Ride tells about his infamous capture on the night of April 18, 1775. After warning John Hancock and Samuel Adams that the British were coming for them, Revere left Lexington with William Dawes and Samuel Prescott
to warn the village of Concord as well. Not long after they were on the
road, they were captured by a British patrol. Dawes and Prescott
escaped, but Revere was interrogated at gunpoint. He boldly told his
captors of all his activities during the night and warned them that 500
militiamen would soon be there to stop them.
Chapter 9 is all about the various riders who spread the alarm across
the Massachusetts countryside. Contrary to the image that many people
hold of the evening of April 18, 1775, there actually dozens of riders who carried the alarm. Paul Revere
was without a doubt the key player, but other designated messengers
spread out from every place he visited and in turn more messengers left
from the places they visited. The preparations and intricate planning
were truly amazing.
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Paul Revere's Ride by David Hackett Fischer
Chapter 8 - The Capture
- Paul Revere and William Dawes leave Lexington on their way to Concord, joined by Dr. Samuel Prescott. They warn every home along the way.
- Revere, Dawes and Prescott run into a British patrol that takes them captive.
- Prescott and Revere try to escape. Prescott gets away, but Revere is
surrounded by ten British regulars. Dawes gets away in the confusion
only to fall off his horse and walk back to Lexington.
- Paul Revere is interrogated by the Regulars. He
fearlessly tells them of everything he did that night. He warned them
that 500 militiamen would be there to fight them soon.
- The soldiers take their prisoners back toward Lexington when they
hear shots coming from the town. The soldiers begin to realize that the
country is rising up against them and take off to warn their commanders,
leaving their prisoners behind.Revere and the other prisoners walk back to Lexington.
- Paul Revere thinks of another mission and heads north.
- Paul Revere told the soldiers boldly and fearlessly
of everything he had done that night and the danger they were in due to
the gathering colonists. What was it that made him so bold?
- Hackett's description of the first shots being fired in Lexington
and the soldiers' reaction is quite vivid. They suddenly began to
realize that Revere's warnings were true and that the countryside was
rising up against them. Their alarm and panic was evident when they
abandoned their prisoners and took off to warn their commanders. What do
you suppose you would have felt and done in this situation if you were
one of those soldiers? How do you think Revere and the other prisoners
were feeling at the same time?
- We read about the events of April 18 and 19 today, 230 years after
they happened, and feel the tension, excitement and gravity of what was
happening. Do you think the people involved that night realized just how
important those events would turn out to be and how we would be
discussing them two centuries later?
Things That Caught Our Eye
- Isn't it interesting how thorough the established timeline is for
the events of April 18 and 19? It was such a pivotal event that
extensive depositions were taken by both sides. Numerous people set
about to interview and document everyone involved. It was one of those
moments, like 9/11, that was so pivotal that we know what happened
practically minute by minute.
- The soldiers' reaction when Paul Revere told them
his name shows how important a figure he really was. All the officers
new him by name and thought they had bagged one of the ringleaders.
- If Paul Revere had been armed when he was captured
he likely would have been executed on the spot or taken back to Boston
as a prisoner of war.
"The armed British officers herded them at pistol-point toward a
pasture north of the Great Road... The officers "swore if we did not
turn into that pasture they would blow our brains out."
"Revere surged ahead of his captors. But just as he reached the
trees, six more horsemen suddenly appeared. Now ten British regulars
surrounded him. They pointed their pistols at his heart, seized his
bridle, tore his reins from his grasp and held him firmly in their
"Even as the British officers posed the questions, Paul Revere
began to control the interrogation. Before the Regulars realized what
had happened, the prisoner himself became the inquisitor. Paul Revere proceeded to tell his astonished captors more than they knew about their own mission."
"Paul Revere was angered by those words, and told
the Major that 'he did not need a threat to make him speak the truth.'
He added contemptuously, 'I call myself a man of truth, and you have
stopped me on the highway, and made me a prisoner I knew not by what
right. I will tell the truth, for I am not afraid."
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Paul Revere's Ride by David Hackett Fischer
Chapter 9 - The Alarm
- Paul Revere heads northwest after being sidetracked by pursuing British horsemen, off the track of his planned route straight to the west.
- Other riders leave Charlestown, bringing the alarm to the towns on the north coast of the Massachusetts Bay.
- An intricate plan of alarm is used to awaken the countryside by
notifying key leaders throughout the region, carrying the message with
gunshots, church bells, beacon fires and even trumpet blasts.
- Paul Revere uses his deep network of political
connections to bring the alarm to key leaders who quickly spread the
alarm throughout their jurisdictions.
- After Paul Revere's capture, Dr. Samuel Prescott carries the alarm on to Concord. Prescott, his brother Abel and others carry the alarm further west, north and south.
- The alarm reaches the communities immediately south of Boston last
since Dawes had not stopped to warn them on his way to Lexington earlier
in the evening.
- By 5 am, most of the communities for 50 miles around were on the march toward Lexington and Concord.
- In this chapter, you can see how important family and social
networks were to the quick spread of the alarm from the leaders in
Boston. Do such institutional and social networks still exist in modern
day America? Have they weakened? Do they hold as much importance and
influence today as they did then?
- Paul Revere personally knew the patriot leaders in
nearly every community for miles around Boston. He knew their names,
positions and even where they lived. His original plan was to go
straight east from Boston to Lexington, warning communities along the
way. Instead, because of running into a British patrol, he was forced to
change his route and go to the northwest. He was still able to go
directly to the key leaders in each town to which he rode. What does all
this say about the true role and position of Paul Revere in the leadership and organization of the Massachusetts patriots.
- How much were you aware of the role that other riders played in spreading the alarm on the evening of April 18th, 1775? Were you aware that there were even any other riders beside Paul Revere? What does this say about our modern educational system?
Things That Caught Our Eye
- While General Gage's men were still stuck in the swamps near
Cambridge just across the river from Boston, colonists more than 30
miles away had already received news of their march - a tribute to their
thorough planning and preparations.
- It's interesting how Paul Revere was connected to
so many prominent townspeople and military leaders, even to the point
that he knew who to go to in towns he wasn't even planning to ride
through that night - a testimony of his role and influence in the
- Isn't it interesting that Paul Revere went directly to the key leaders in each town he visited, while William Dawes didn't visit any
leaders or warn anyone along the way to Lexington, causing the towns
that he traveled through, which were some of the first towns visited by a
rider that night, not to hear the alarm until 9 o'clock the next
"The astonishing speed of this communication did not occur by
accident. It was the result of careful preparation, and something else
as well. Paul Revere and the other messengers did not
spread the message merely by knocking on individual farmhouse doors.
They also awakened the institutions of New England."
- "Several Whig messengers that night were physicians. In that
far-distant era when American physicians made house-calls, a country
doctor was apt to own the best saddle horse in town, and be a highly
experienced rider. He also tended to be a "high-toned son of liberty."
- "From long association he was acquainted with leaders throughout the
province. He knew who they were and where to find them, even in towns
that he had not expected to visit. They knew him as well."
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