On America's birthday, I'm reminded about all the great stories in our nation's rich history. I really look forward to us (and others) being able to adequately plumb the narrative depths of America's story potential. There is a lifetime amount of stories just begging to be told.
One of my personal favorites deals with the midnight ride of not Paul Revere, but Wentworth Cheswell. Most of know of Paul Revere's epic ride to warn other patriots that the British were coming. Longfellow did a solid job telling that story.
But did you know that he didn't ride alone?
On 18 April 1775, Paul Revere rode to Portsmouth to warn the town that the British warships, frigate Scarborough and the sloop of war Canseau, were on their way. Revere road west, but Wentworth Cheswell road as well.
Wentworth was the grandson of a slave and a patriot leader. In fact, his town selected him as the messenger for the Committee of Safety – the central nervous system of the American Revolution that carried intelligence and messages back and forth between strategic operational centers. Serving in that position, Wentworth undertook the same task as Paul Revere, making an all-night ride to warn citizens of imminent British invasion.
Revere road west, but Cheswell road north.
We remember Revere beause the British troops ultimately went west, but the legacy of Wentworth Cheswell is a lasting one.
He was a patriot, teacher, and church leader; an historian, archeologist, and educator; a judge and official elected to numerous offices (he is considered the first black American elected to office in America).
As David Barton put it, Cheswell "...is truly one of our forgotten patriots but he is a laudable example for all Americans – a hero worth remembering and honoring."
Happy birthday, America. Thanks for all the great stories.