The 4th of July is upon us, so I decided I’d like to create a new holiday in honor of a forgotten American hero, William Dawes.
Who’s that you ask?
Late night on April 18, 1775, Boston patriot Joseph Warren caught wind of a British military operation planned for the next day. Warren quickly dispatched two riders, Paul Revere and William Dawes to disseminate the news.
But despite having made the entire trip (unlike Revere) and being just as valiant and patriotic as Revere, no one has heard of Dawes.
Why is this?
Poet Helen F. Moore posited that Dawes is forgotten because his name is not as ready-made for reverence:
History rings with his silvery name;
Closed to me are the portals of fame.
Had he been Dawes and I Revere,
No one had heard of him, I fear.
No one has heard of me because
He was Revere and I was Dawes.
But the truth is…the charismatic, well connected Revere sparked an instant uprising among the citizenry he contacted, whereas Dawes couldn’t manage to rouse many patriots from their beds. Malcolm Gladwell even made note of the difference in the two men’s effectiveness in his book “The Tipping Point”. The Reveres of the word spark trends, the Dawes of the world are ignored.
So essentially, you have two men with the same agenda, getting two wildly different responses:
REVERE: The British are coming! The British are coming!
SLUMBERING POPULACE: “Did ye hear that Abigail? Roust thee buttocks from this bed! An historic moment taketh place!
DAWES: The British are coming! The British are coming!
SLUMBERING POPULACE: Wha? Eh, it’s just Dawes. Quiet down out there Dawes! We’re trying to sleep. Damn thee Dawes. ZZZZZZ….
So I think we need to set aside a day to honor the William Dawes of the world. The people who are routinely ignored. Who cannot rally a crowd. Who could not even convince people to leave a burning building. For all the ineffective yet hardworking folk, this is your day.
Raise a toast to your patron saint, the forgotten William Dawes.