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Michele Bachmann's gaffe

  • Article by: SUSAN HOGAN
  • Star Tribune
  • March 30, 2011 - 8:38 AM

If Paul Revere had ridden through New Hampshire, would U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann be campaigning in Massachusetts?

In the historical gaffe-heard-round-the world, the Minnesota Republican representative misstated that the Revolutionary War began in the Granite State instead of the Bay State.

"You're the state where the shot was heard around the world at Lexington and Concord," she told New Hampshire Republicans over the weekend, referring to the famous battles in Massachusetts.

The "shot heard round the world" is a phrase from "Concord Hymn," written by Boston native Ralph Waldo Emerson in the 19th century.

It was sung during a July 4th ceremony in 1837 at the dedication of monument in Concord commemorating the historical battle.

Emerson's poem wasn't as catchy as Longfellow's "Paul Revere's Ride," one of the best known about the American Revolution:

Listen, by children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere.

The poem celebrates Revere's historical ride through Lexington to Concord to warn of a British invasion.

So what if Revere had ridden to New Hampshire?

It turns out that he did -- to Portsmouth -- six months earlier. In the bitter chill of 1774, Revere braved icy roads for 40 miles to warn New Hampshire residents about a possible attack by the British.

No, the famous "shot" wasn't sounded there.

Even so, "had the British been more aggressive and the weather less ferocious, Revere's "Portsmouth Alarm" may well have signaled an earlier start to the American Revolution," J. Dennis Robinson wrote for About.com.

Bachmann apparently didn't know about this bit of history, either, or she might have tried to make it a face-saving measure.

Short of that, she took a rare step in the wake of the campaign miscue -- at least for her: She admitted to making a factual error.

Susan Hogan is a Star Tribune editorial writer.

 

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