Paul Revere Rode Tonight 238 Years Ago

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35 x 28 1/2" (88.9 x 72.3 cm)

Revering our patriots

As a nation, we’re sending countless thoughts and prayers to the innocent victims in Massachusetts this week; blessings to all who were affected by the attack that occurred on Patriots’ Day. Through sorrow, we carry on in the patriotic spirit; thus, here is a quick post to commemorate a bit of that state’s historic legacy. Today marks the 238th anniversary of Paul Revere’s midnight ride.

Although he did not actually shout “The British are coming,” this important American historic figure did indeed ride to Lexington to warn countrymen of approaching British troops. (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s famous poem “Paul Revere’s Ride,” published in 1861, elevated Revere to folk hero status – although its details aren’t all historically accurate.) Revere also was an esteemed silversmith, a soldier, and even a dentist; and the enterprise he started continues today as Revere Copper Products.

Browse these fascinating pages to learn more:

The website of the Paul Revere House offers information about the house, the Midnight Ride, Revere’s silver, and more:

From the History Channel:
This Day in History – Apr. 18, 1775: “Revere and Dawes warn of British Attack”:
About Paul Revere:
“12 Things You May Not Know About Paul Revere” (Jennie Cohen):

From the Colonial Williamsburg Official History and Citizenship Site:
“Terms of Estrangement: Who Were the Sons of Liberty?” (Benjamin L. Carp):
“Throw down your arms, ye villains, ye Rebels, Disperse!” (Dennis Montgomery):

From the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation:
“The Use of Myth in History” (podcast, Gil Klein):

(Image via Wikipedia)


“Time Will Tell” Indeed: 500 Years Later, Long-Lost King’s Remains Found in Interesting Location

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In case you haven’t heard, a truly amazing discovery has been in the news this week: England’s King Richard III was found under a parking lot in Leicester – it’s really him! In 1485, the 32-year-old king died in battle; his death ended the Plantagenet line and gave rise to the Tudors.

Richard III (if you’ve made his acquaintance) may have a negative connotation in your mind, as he’s been popularly depicted as a villain — famously, by Shakespeare*; but Richard’s supporters say this discovery should help to correct some wrong impressions about the maligned king.

There’s something in this earth-shattering find for everyone, whether you’re into medieval history, monarchs, archeology, science and forensics, English literature, drama, or even murder mysteries. Start by browsing University of Leicester’s The Search for Richard III website, which includes multiple links on History, Archeology, and Science.

I’ve been watching the news stories and looking through the comments, and so many people are so passionate about this discovery and about King Richard himself, one way or the other. Stay tuned for more about how he’ll be memorialized. Until then, read up on this historical character, the time period, and the incredible story of the search!

(*Those interested in Shakespeare’s Richard III may find it at Project Gutenberg.)

(Image via Wikipedia)

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Got Civic Literacy?

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U.S. Government 101

With the U.S. Presidential Election and Veterans Day still in the rearview mirror, it seems a good time to discuss our national knowledge – or lack of knowledge – about civics.

You may be familiar with late-night talk show host Jay Leno’s “jaywalking” episodes wherein a guy with a microphone asks easy questions to (apparently) random passersby, often capturing the ignorance of the public to comic (albeit tragic) effect.

I don’t know to what extent these episodes are staged or edited (for every display of ignorance, perhaps a number of others get the answer right) – but from my research and teaching experience, I doubt it’s difficult to find uninformed people. As I write this, I realize I may sound snobby; but lo, we’re talking about very basic, easy questions here – such as in this example . . .

Not too long ago, I saw a little clip (I cannot recall where or which channel) in which an interviewer approached a woman and asked what she did for a living; she was an elementary education teacher. His next question: “How many Senators are in the U.S. Congress?” She quickly spat, “I have no idea.”

What really disturbed me, other than the fact that every teacher in the country ought to know immediately how many U.S. Senators we have, was the lack of shame. She not only didn’t know, she grew hostile at someone imagining she should know . . . yet she proudly calls herself a teacher.

Yes: teachers, middle-school-and-older students, and all citizens in a voting Constitutional Republic: you should know these kinds of easy questions about your government system, and if you don’t, you must take steps to learn! Fortunately, that’s not too difficult, even from your sofa, with selected online resources. You might start your journey by browsing the website of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute American Civic Literacy Program. Read its interesting yet sobering studies (on the front page) and, for real fun and to see where your own weak spots lie, take its “Civic Knowledge Quiz” (see buttons on the left-hand menu of the site), “Civic Engagement Assessment,” or “Full Civic Literacy Exam.”

(Notable George Washington quote posted on the site: “In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.”)

Another worthwhile resource, CIRCLE (The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement), “conducts research on civic education in schools, colleges, and community settings and on young Americans’ voting and political participation, service, activism, media use, and other forms of civic engagement.”

Going back to basics, here’s one more good reference page for civics: the U.S. National Archives’ “America’s Historical Documents.” See and download images of (and read more about) such essentials as the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Emancipation Proclamation, and more.

Image via U.S. National Archives’ “America’s Historical Documents” page linked above

Founding Fathers on the Web

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Star Firework

Dance with the Stars

This Independence Day weekend, celebrate by bookmarking a few basic web links on American Founding Fathers:
“The American Founders Online: An Annotated Guide to Their Papers and Publications” from the Library of Congress.
Learn about “America’s Founding Fathers: Delegates to the Constitutional Convention” (1787) from The National Archives and Records Administration.
“Presidents of the United States: George Washington”: a collection with many links from the Internet Public Library. (American flags on the site lead to other POTUS pages.)
“The Founding Fathers Unite” is one video of a few offered by the History Channel’s website.

Related on this blog: Four for the Fourth: American Revolution Websites

Image via / earl53

Presidents’ Day on the Web: Four Fascinating Sites

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April 30: George Washington becomes the first ...

April 30: George Washington becomes the first President of the United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here in the United States, Presidents’ Day is upon us, at least according to popular conception; actually, the legal name for the holiday is Washington’s Birthday (though George Washington’s birthday is February 22). For more fun facts and enjoyable enlightenment, read on:

The blog of the American Historical Association, AHA Today, brings you “Celebrating Presidents’ Day,” a page of exciting links including Presidential Libraries on YouTube and resources on presidential debates:

Test your presidential smarts at the President’s Day Quiz courtesy of (Christian Science Monitor online):

Read a bit about each of the presidents at the History Channel’s Presidents’ Day feature; you can also watch videos and browse photo slideshows:

An informative birthday tribute to George Washington, this page from the Library of Congress’ American Memory site has plenty of interesting links within:

Image via Wikimedia Commons

New Year’s Links

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Celebrating the New YearHappy New Year, everyone! Enjoy these sources of interest:
“Top 10 Stories of 2011” from (university research news website).
“New Year’s History: Festive Facts” from the History Channel.
“New Year’s Resolution Week: Fun Facts and Figures” from Learn about the holiday’s history, how to say “Happy New Year” in a variety of languages, and more. Linked from the Internet Public Library (ipl2) website.

In addition, a quick web search will turn up articles about new words added to the dictionary (e.g., Merriam-Webster, Oxford English Dictionary) in 2011 . . . always an interesting read and sign of the times.

Image via / matthew_hull

Holly Jolly Learning

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Cover of a 1912 edition of the poem, illustrat...

"Twas the Night Before Christmas" (edition published in 1912 -- Image via Wikipedia)

‘Tis the season of web-browsing for holiday education and edification. Upon doing so, “yule” find no shortage of entertaining sites, and below are just a few with a bit of an academic bent. Enjoy and happy holidays!
The History Channel presents videos about holiday origins and traditions (scroll down for links).
For Victorian flavor, see Hillman’s Hyperlinked and Searchable Chamber’s Book of Days (visit “Topics” to see some interesting reading about Christmas. Book published 1869; site hosted by is a great place to search for online books. Head to the “verse” tab and type in “Christmas” for a series of seasonal poems, including the full text of Clement C. Moore’s “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (better known as “Twas the Night Before Christmas”).

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