When Paul Revere said, “The British are coming?”



In the early hours of April 19, 1775, Paul Revere rode through the Massachusetts countryside shouting, “The British are coming!” This iconic phrase has become synonymous with the start of the American Revolutionary War. Revere’s midnight ride was a pivotal moment in history, marking the beginning of the colonists’ fight for independence from British rule. In this article, we will delve into the details of this historic event, exploring the context, significance, and impact of Paul Revere’s famous declaration.

The Colonial Situation

To understand the significance of Paul Revere’s warning, it is essential to grasp the political and social climate of the American colonies during the late 18th century. At the time, tensions between the colonists and the British government were steadily escalating. The colonies had long been subject to British control, but a growing sense of discontent and desire for self-governance was permeating the population. Dissatisfaction with British policies, such as the imposition of taxes without representation, fueled the flames of rebellion.

The Midnight Ride

On the night of April 18, 1775, Paul Revere set out on his legendary ride. His mission was to warn the colonial militias in Lexington and Concord of the impending arrival of British troops. Revere, along with William Dawes and Samuel Prescott, rode from Boston to Lexington, raising the alarm and urging the colonists to prepare for battle. The phrase “The British are coming!” is commonly associated with Revere’s ride, although historical accounts suggest he may have used a different phrase, such as “The regulars are out.”

Paul Revere’s Role

Paul Revere was a prominent silversmith and a member of the secret organization known as the Sons of Liberty. He was chosen for the midnight ride due to his well-established network of contacts throughout the countryside. Revere’s task was not only to alert the militias but also to gather vital information about British troop movements. His knowledge of the local terrain and his ability to navigate quickly made him an ideal messenger.

The Purpose of the Ride

The primary objective of Paul Revere’s ride was to warn the colonial militias of the British troops’ imminent arrival. The British government had ordered the arrest of several colonial leaders, including John Hancock and Samuel Adams, and intended to seize military supplies stored in Concord. Revere’s warning allowed the militias to prepare for battle and, ultimately, played a crucial role in the colonists’ victory at the Battle of Lexington and Concord.

The Impact on the Revolutionary War

Paul Revere’s midnight ride had a profound impact on the course of the Revolutionary War. The warning he delivered helped mobilize the colonial militias, allowing them to gather in significant numbers to defend their rights and liberties. The Battle of Lexington and Concord, which followed soon after Revere’s ride, marked the first military engagement between the colonists and the British. This clash of arms solidified the colonists’ resolve and set the stage for the subsequent battles and the eventual declaration of independence.

The Symbolic Significance

Paul Revere’s warning has taken on a symbolic meaning in American history. It represents the spirit of resistance against tyranny and the determination to fight for freedom. The phrase “The British are coming!” has become a rallying cry for those advocating for independence and has been etched into the collective memory of the American people.

Legacy and Commemoration

Paul Revere’s midnight ride has been immortalized in countless works of literature, art, and popular culture. Longfellow’s famous poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride,” published in 1861, further cemented Revere’s place in history. Today, Revere’s ride is commemorated annually on Patriot’s Day in Massachusetts, with reenactments and ceremonies honoring his bravery and the sacrifices of the Revolutionary War.


Paul Revere’s declaration, whether he said “The British are coming!” or a variation of it, ignited the flames of revolution in the hearts of the American colonists. His midnight ride, warning of the approaching British troops, played a vital role in the colonists’ fight for independence. Revere’s bravery and determination have become legendary, and his actions serve as a reminder of the sacrifices made by those who fought for the birth of a nation. The phrase “The British are coming!” will forever be associated with the spirit of liberty and the quest for freedom.

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