The meaning behind a holiday only Maine and Massachusetts celebrate

Patriots' Day explained

(NEWS CENTER) -- Historian Herb Adams sat down with NEWS CENTER to explain the meaning behind Patriots' Day. He says it all started with that famous ride by Paul Revere.

"The United States is a very young country, and of all of the many self-made holidays, this one really is the first; and If it had gone badly for us, there would have been none other to follow it."

Herb Adams teaches history at SMCC, and brought along a textbook to help clear the air on that midnight ride.

"The British, who had already occupied Boston in 1775, realized that if they were ever going to subdue these trouble making Americans they were going to have to get rid of the trouble making leaders, and get rid of the supplies. They decided in April 1775 the British were going to launch a surprise attack on the town of Lexington, where they heard there were supplies. On the 18th of April, the underground in Boston detected the British were on the move."

"Of course, as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's wonderful poem tells us, "One if by land, two if by sea." The signal was given allegedly from the North Church tower in Boston with two lanterns indicating the British were marching,  and that is what started this ride of Mr. Revere, Mr. Dawes, and Mr. Preston out into the countryside to warn citizens along that route that the British were marching; so it was no longer a surprise attack, of course. At the end of the day the British had lost about 300 men, for what they thought would be a quick overnight move; the Americans lost about 100. After that, no going back."

Maine was once part of Massachusetts, making the two the only states in the country to honor Patriots' Day.

© 2017 WCSH-TV


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