Posted by Brian from Shawnee on March 05, 2006
In Reply to: The Brits are coming posted by RRC on March 05, 2006
: : : Does anybody know where the phrase "the Brits are coming" was originally used? Thanks.
: : This was supposedly shouted by Paul Revere to warn the people of Massachusets that an invading army from Britain was about to attempt to stop the American Revolution.
: : Not so.
: : From a letter written by Mr. Revere:
: : " In the fall of 1774 and the winter of 1775, I was one of upwards of thirty, chiefly mechanics, who formed ourselves into a committee for the purpose of watching the movements if the British soldiers, and gaining every intelligence of the movements of the Tories. We held our meetings at the Green Dragon tavern. We were so careful that our meetings be kept secret that every time we met, every person swore upon the Bible that they would not discover any of our transactions but to Messrs. Hancock, Adams, Doctors Warren, Church and one or two more.
: : ...In the winter, towards the spring, we frequently took turns, two and two, to watch the soldiers by patrolling the streets all night. The Saturday night preceding the 19th of April, about 12 o'clock at night, the boats belonging to the transports were all launched and carried under the sterns of the men-of-war. (They had been previously hauled up and repaired.) We likewise found that the grenadiers and light infantry were all taken off duty."
: : The rest of his letter can be viewed at the link below.
: : http://www.historycarper.com/resources/articles/prevere.htm
: In trying to prove or disprove what Paul Revere might have said at the time, the quoted paragraphs do nothing as they are the beginning of the "story". Following the link, I eventually find:
: "In Medford, I awaked the Captain of the minute men; and after that, I alarmed almost every house, till I got to Lexington."
: The link doesn't say anything about what he said either way, but that he must have said something.
I don't think children are taught in school that Paul Revere said specifically "The British are coming! The British are coming!" though most Americans of a certain age (I'm sure) can vividly picture it in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. In fact my 5th grader just learned about one William Dawes, who took a different route from Boston and met up with Paul Revere in Concord. Dawes didn't get a Longfellow poem, so nobody knows about him or what he might have been yelling!