Today in Supreme Court History

Today in Supreme Court History: April 18, 1775


4/18/1775: Paul Revere's ride.

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  1. Poor William Dawes Jr. All guts, no glory.

    While every schoolchild knows of the midnight ride of Paul Revere, Dawes made an even more daring gallop out of Boston that same April night in 1775. Unlike his silversmith counterpart, he managed to evade capture by the British. Yet it’s Revere’s immortal name that has graced a famous ode, a line of copper cookware and even a kitschy 1960s rock band. Dawes, meanwhile, is the Rodney Dangerfield of the American Revolution, getting no respect at all.

    1. How could you leave out the Beastie Boys’ song? Is there a single Gen X-er who can’t rap every line when the song comes on? No game of Wiffle ball was ever the same again during my childhood.

    2. What’s often overlooked is that the mission was to go to Concord and (a) warn Sam Adams & John Hancock, whom they thought the British were going to arrest, and (b) hide the militia supplies (guns & ammo) then stored in Concord. Except most of the latter had already been removed.

      What’s not mentioned about Revere’s having stopped to awaken militia commanders and town selectmen along the way is that he likely was offered a drink of rum every time he stopped (as was customary at the time) and hence was probably intoxicated by the time he got to Lexington — we know he was loud. IMHO, that’s a factor in Dawes being able to get away from the British patrol who captured Revere.

      If anyone ever visits Boston and is interested, if you stand outside the Omni Parker House (60 School Street) and look downhill, you can see the steeple of the Old North Church much as Revere did. All the land’s been filled in and developed, but you can still see it.

      The British rowed across what once the Boston & Maine Railyards (now owned by the MBTA) and the double-decker I-93. They came ashore at Lechmere Point in Cambridge, pretty much following the Prison Point (Gilmore) Bridge. Bunker Hill Community College is on the site of the old Charlestown Prison, which (when built in 1805) was out on a point surrounded by water.

      1. That’s so much Boston lore I’m suddenly hungry for clam chowdah.

  2. A number of Supreme Court decisions were decided on April 18. Gonzales v. Carhart is a recent example. Yet the oft-embellished ride of Paul Revere, no part of Supreme Court history, is inexplicably offered this day. If the proprietors won’t spring for an editor, perhaps ask an unpaid intern for help?

    1. Yeah, this one has me stumped. Did Blackman select these? If so, can he please explain how Revere is part of Supreme Court history? Not even Rush Limbaugh’s children’s book on Revere gives him credit for that.

      1. I’m glad Blackman reminded us of this.

        After all, hardly a man is now alive who remember’s that famous day and year.

    2. Dates are often wrong, and the brief summaries of
      cases (when they do bother to talk about actual cases) are often misleading. The impression is of 2L’s who are not paying close attention in Con Law class. They are not doing a good job of advertising their book.

  3. When the poem was published, 85 years after the midnight ride, it was literally true that hardly anyone still living had a first-hand memory of Revere’s (and Dawes’) ride. Today, I often wonder how many people even remember studying in school the event, and the battles the next day. Didn’t it have something to do with the efforts of American slaveholders to avoid British abolitionists?

  4. It would be nice to see even more posts like this one on my webpage. I can share some of them.

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