Paul Revere, American Patriot
- Arts & Humanities
Language Arts, Literature
Learn about Paul Revere by examining first-person accounts, works of historical fiction, a popular narrative poem, and other resources.
- analyze the life of an important historical figure using several different sources of information.
patriot, Revere, revolution, artisan, silversmith
- the text of the poem Paul Revere's Ride, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
- a copy of the book And Then What Happened, Paul Revere? by Jean Fritz
- computers with Internet access
- Internet resources such as Revere Speaks (a first-person account of Revere's famous ride), the Paul Revere House (includes a concise biography, a map outlining the "midnight ride," and other useful information), the Virtual Freedom Trail (where students can explore sites associated with Paul Revere), and Boston Massacre Trials (for a copy of Revere's engraving of the Boston Massacre)
- art supplies
Begin this two-day lesson by inviting students to list what they already know about Paul Revere and the Revolutionary War period.
Then read aloud Longfellow's narrative poem Paul Revere's Ride. Discuss the following: What elements of the poem made Revere's actions seem heroic or singular? Why did Longfellow not emphasize the fact that there were many riders out to "alarm" the countryside? (Older students may wish to speculate about why Longfellow chose to write the poem when he did -- in 1860. What historical events were occurring that influenced Revere's becoming a folk hero?)
Next, ask students to locate the sites mentioned in the poem by visiting the Paul Revere House and Virtual Freedom Trail Web sites.
Then read aloud Jean Fritz's And Then What Happened, Paul Revere? After reading, create a Venn diagram to chart details of Revere's life that are mentioned in both works and those that are unique to Fritz's work. (Students might do this part of the activity on their own, in pairs, or in small groups.) Ask: Why might Longfellow have left out details about the forgotten cloth or spurs?
Engage students in discussion of the following: In what ways was Paul Revere an American patriot? What does the word patriot suggest? In what other aspects of his life could Revere be considered patriotic? (in his family life, his work as an engraver, his membership in Sons of Liberty and other groups, his military service ...) Older students might wish to explore his work as propaganda. How did his engraving of the Boston Massacre support the revolutionary cause? How did this work help "spin" the event into a rallying cry? (It is also interesting to explore the role John Adams played in the Boston Massacre trials.)
Next, have students read Revere Speaks, his own account of the historic ride. Why did he include certain details and exclude others? (The students may want to write an account from the point of view of William Dawes, another express rider that night.) In what ways was Revere writing with an eye to the historical record?
End the lessons by asking students to create a mural to be displayed in the hallway. That mural should depict the varied aspects of Paul Revere's life as a family man, a business person, an artisan, a revolutionary, and -- certainly -- a patriot.
In order to assess the students' learning, ask them to respond to the following writing prompt: "In addition to his Midnight Ride, Paul Revere should be remembered as an important member of the Revolutionary generation because ..."
Steven Vetter, Lee Middle School, Bradenton, Florida