“The Midnight Ride of William Dawes”

This response to “Paul Revere’s Ride” was written by Helen F. Moore and published in Century Magazine in 1896. By that time Longfellow’s poem had become famous, and made Paul Revere famous as well. But, as Revere himself stated, he was one of two men who carried a warning out from Boston on April 18, 1775. Another Patriot activist named William Dawes rode through Roxbury and Cambridge to Lexington, joined up with Revere, and then went on to Concord.

Moore’s poem imagined what Dawes might say about having been forgotten:
I am a wandering, bitter shade,
Never of me was a hero made;
Poets have never sung my praise,
Nobody crowned my brow with bays;
And if you ask me the fatal cause,
I answer only, “My name was Dawes.”

’TIS all very well for the children to hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere;
But why should my name be quite forgot,
Who rode as boldly and well, God wot?
Why should I ask? The reason is clear—
My name was Dawes and his Revere.

WHEN the lights from the old North Church flashed out,
Paul Revere was waiting about,
But I was already on my way.
The shadows of night fell cold and gray
As I rode, with never a break or a pause;
But what was the use, when my name was Dawes!

HISTORY rings with his silvery name;
Closed to me are the portals of fame.
Had he been Dawes and I Revere,
No one had heard of him, I fear.
No one has heard of me because
He was Revere and I was Dawes.
Is Moore’s complaint fair? Historian J. L. Bell discusses how William Dawes’s actions on April 18-19, 1775, compare to Revere’s.