April 18 Sunday. Another unpleasant sabbath but we have
all been to meeting. Oliver & wife staid at home
this afternoon. Mr Whitwell gave us two short but
good sermons of about 20 minutes At intermission
went into Mrs J Howards with Mrs E Howard
Mrs L Howard & Mrs Dr. Deans called a few moments
on Mrs Whitwell. Have finished Night & Morning
As was their custom, the Ameses attended church today en masse, at least in the morning. They drove separate carriages to the meeting house through the “cloudy, cold + misty”* morning. Oliver Jr. and his wife Sarah Lothrop Ames rode home at noon, but Evelina and her family, presumably, busied themselves at intermission with various opportunities to socialize.
Oakes Ames most likely slept through the sermons, even though they were “short.” Evelina, however, liked Reverend Whitwell’s sermons today, as she often did. Would he have made any allusion to the historic date? April 18 was the anniversary of the 1775 ride of Paul Revere and William Dawes to warn “every Middlesex village and farm” of the approach of British forces. It was a date that American schoolchildren once had to memorize.
Less than a decade later, poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow would immortalize the historic date in Paul Revere’s Ride:
Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April in Seventy-Five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year…
Longfellow, one of the most popular American poets of the 19th century, wrote Paul Revere’s Ride some eighty-five years after the dramatic events in Concord and Lexington that opened the Revolutionary War. It was published in The Atlantic Monthly in January, 1861, on the eve of the Civil War. Many believe that the poet, an adamant abolitionist, wrote the piece to remind American citizens of the historic principles and great bravery that shaped the formation of the United States.
* Oliver Ames, Journal, Stonehill College Archives, Collection of Arnold Tofias