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No Respect
by Vern Perry, NSC President
Originally published on March 14, 2013 - reprinted with permission

    For all of you who forgot to set your clocks ahead, better early than never.

  Two Sons of Liberty left Boston, on the night of April 18th, 1775, on horseback to warn the people that British troops were marching toward Lexington and Concord.

  Dr Joseph Warren had learned through the Boston revolutionary underground that the troops were preparing to cross the Charles River and march to Lexington to arrest Hancock and Adams. Warren, fearing interception by the British border guards, sent two riders by different routes. One by land and one by sea. 

  Boston in 1775 was connected to the mainland by a narrow strip of land guarded by British sentries. Warren knew that the rider who took the longer land route that passed through the British checkpoint had the more dangerous mission but the perfect man for it was Dawes. Unlike Revere, Dawes was not a known rabblerouser and since he frequently left Boston through the checkpoint was a familiar face to the guards. There are various stories about how he did it, but however he did it was in the nick of time since shortly after he got through, all travel out of Boston was stopped.

  Dawes arrived at Lexington’s Hancock-Clark House about half an hour after Revere, who had travel a shorter distance on a faster horse. Thirty minutes later the duo mounted their tired horses and, with Dr. Samuel Prescott, rode off to warn the residents on Concord.

  Before the trio could reach Concord they met a British patrol at 1:30 a.m. Revere was captured. Prescott escaped to Concord. Dawes knew his horse was too tired to outrun the two British officers so he staged a ruse by pulling up to a vacant farmhouse and shouting “Halloo, boys I got two of them. The two Redcoats fearing an ambush galloped away. Dawes was thrown from his horse and limped away into obscurity.

  Not much was made of either man before they died, but Revere got a boost of a lifetime when “Paul Revere’s Ride” was written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1861. The verses were historically inaccurate and left Dawes out entirely.

  How come Dawes wasn't even mentioned in the poem? Well, Paul Revere was more prominent in the political underground of Boston and was a well known business man (silversmith). Dawes was a tanner. Also Revere had written a detailed first-person account of his mission. Very few records exist concerning the Dawes’ ride. The squeaky wheel gets the oil.

  Contemporaries didn’t even remember his name. The guard at the Hancock-Clarke House reported that Revere was accompanied by a “Mr. Lincoln”. Harper’s Magazine called Dawes “Ebenezer Dorr” in a centennial commemoration issue. Not even 15 minutes of fame.

  It was discovered in 2007 that Dawes is most likely not buried in Boston’s King’s Chapel Burying Ground, where his grave has been marked, but probably five miles away in his wife’s family plot in Forest Hills Cemetery. Even in death, Dawes still can’t get any respect.

Contact President Vern Perry