Scott Hayden's Reviews > Paul Revere and the Minute Men

Paul Revere and the Minute Men by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
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Apr 15, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: history, children
Read from April 15 to 17, 2012 — I own a copy

Engaging account of Paul Revere from childhood until the beginning of the Revolution. Fascinating piecing together of both his family heritage (French immigrant father who fled the iron fist of the Roman Church) and the growing American discontent with the British Regular Army.

I like how Fisher emphasized that basically the American impression of the British was unfortunately based almost exclusively on their encounters with the less-than-worthy officers of the British Regulars. She brought out the clash of cultures, and made it seem more a clash of classes. Over and over we read of the British officers, who being from the landed lordly class, thought it admirable that they didn't have to do any work. Both the American common man and the few working class Englishman held the same opinion of people who didn't do any work: worthless! So while the British Army Regulars looked down on the population of Americans, the Americans who were mostly tradesmen looked with even more disdain on the British. What's more, again unfortunately, most of the British officers were certainly not the top of the class from officer school. The "lucky" officers got the privilege of fighting against lords like themselves in Europe. Getting sent to America to battle the dirty French traders or the "savage" Indians was almost an insult. This author certainly gave us reason to look beyond first and even second impressions and resist categorizing entire cultures.

Another theme I much appreciated was the "what's next" character of Paul Revere. The epitome of this trait emerged after his famous ride from Boston to Concord. When he had fulfilled his exhausting midnight assignment, instead of napping, he returned to Lexington to see how he might help next. I liked learning the little bits more of Paul's later life. He set aside silversmithing in order to devote his learning skills to support the war effort. From his experience working with metals he tackled the problems of how to manufacture copper sheets for ships, copper plates for printing money, canon production, and even gunpowder. What an incredible mind he had for learning. They gave him only one day to tour a gunpowder factory in Philadelphia, yet that was enough for him to sketch machines and factory plans.

Ending with reunion between family and their 16-year-old son who had been left in British-held Boston to guard their little silversmith shop and home was very touching.
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Reading Progress

04/15/2012 page 56
04/15/2012 page 56 "I love the idea that the working class had their shops in their homes and basically their work day was daylight hours. They may have worked all day, but it was a more relaxed pace. It was also more variety than modern factory jobs because they did NOT work on assembly lines. Interesting slant, too, on Paul Revere's heartfelt resistance to tyranny, knowing that his father had fled France's church of the iron fist."
04/15/2012 page 62 "While watching his men rot in Fort William Henry, Lieutenant Revere's mind turned over two new thoughts. "1) Maybe the British commanders of our forces don't really know what they're doing? 2) If my father was French, but I'm not. Maybe even though my grandfather was British, I'm not. Then what am I?""
04/15/2012 page 66 ""For nearly a hundred years before our Revolution, the soldiers and officers in the British Regular Army were almost the only English people seen in America by ordinary Colonials." No wonder the Colonials thought ill of the British. As one English character put it himself, "Why, man alive! To join up with the [British] army is the last thing any honest, self-respecting, hard-working man in England would do.""

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