Gun Laws & Legislation

Guns & Politics: Hillary Clinton Is No Sybil Ludington

Susan Smith Columnist
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We are being told that 2016 is a significant year for women.  This is because there is a woman currently running to be elected President, though the historical nature of this escapes me because not only has she run before and lost but she is currently either even or behind in most polls to both her Democratic and Republican competitors, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, respectively.

Though if crooked Hillary can crank up and turn out her corrupt political machine just one more time in 2016, then she might win and America would indeed make history with the ascension of the first woman to be President of the United States.  Though how anyone could call that screeching, lying, perennially angry, ill favored, androgynously dressed, old harridan a woman is beyond me.  I guess hating your husband all those years, along with all Republicans, all church-goers, all conservatives, the entire media, the entire American military and basically all men can take a toll.

Poor Hillary.  Being dissed because of your Y chromosome is not new, however; it has been happening to women for generations.  Remember Sybil Ludington in the 18th century?  No?  Well, there’s a reason for that, and isn’t it just typical – a man took her place!  Take a look – 

“Listen, my children, and you shall hear

Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere.”

But the rhyming in that famous poem with that oh-so-familiar name doesn’t stop there: 

     On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five; 

     Hardly a man is now alive 

     Who remembers that famous day and year.

As this famous tale by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow related, heroism, a speedy horse, and an indefatigable patriot, were needed by the American cause on the night of April 18, 1775, in Massachusetts.  The British were about to advance upon some newly formed American forces, and very important stores they were guarding, in Concord, (and other nearby places) in Massachusetts.  According to Longfellow, well known patriot Paul Revere had been engaged to do the vital job of notifying the colonial forces that “the British were coming.”  There were two other men involved in similiar endeavors in the area, though they were not quite so well known, and their names were William Dawes and Samuel Prescott.  There are differing tales of who among the three succeeded the best in providing the necessary warnings, and what precisely happened to them in their furious ride at what would turn out to be the beginning of the American Revolutionary War.

One thing we do know about the brave individuals who ventured forth to do this dangerous endeavor, at this or any other similar opportunity, and that is that the name Sybil Ludington was never mentioned as one of these brave patriots.  Whether it was because it was a different place, a different year, because she was a woman, or because her name couldn’t find a pleasing rhyme, is not known as the reason for this significant historical omission.

So perhaps now is a good time to reveal to all history lovers the importance of what a woman did for her nascent nation in 1777.

Referred to as “the female counterpart of the more famous Paul Revere,” Sybil Ludington was born in 1761 in Connecticut to Colonel and Mrs. Henry Ludington.  The oldest of twelve children, Sybil re-settled in Duchess County, New York, with her family soon after her birth, where her father began farming his considerable acreage there.   Sybil’s father joined the rebel cause in 1773, and his area of command was “along a vulnerable route that the British could take between Connecticut and the rest of Long Island Sound.”

In late April, 1777, a fellow patriot came to Colonel Ludington’s farm to alert him and his family that British troops and some of their loyalist followers had attacked the nearby town of Danbury, Connecticut, and were headed their way.  This fellow issued this warning to try to enlist Colonel Ludington and his regiment to alert Colonial troops to this impending danger, but the majority of the members of the Colonel’s regiment had disbursed for the planting season.  It was said that “the rider was too tired to continue and Colonel Ludington had to prepare for battle,” so the Colonel asked his barely sixteen year old daughter Sybil “to ride through the night to alert the patriots of the danger,” and to urge them to “come together to fight back.”

Thus, on the fateful nigh of April 26, 1777, Sybil Ludington, alone, and on a very large horse named Star, “rode all night through the dark woods, covering 40 miles.”  Her journey started around 9:00 in the evening and ended around dawn.  Sybil took a long stick with her, not only to prod her horse and to knock on doors, but it was also used to defend herself against a highwayman who attacked her along the route.  Because of her bravery, almost the entire Colonial regiment was gathered by daybreak to fight the British, and they managed to protect the stores they had gathered at a supply depot near Danbury.  It was later said about this brave young lady and the success of her mission: “When, soaked with rain and exhausted, she returned home, most of the 400 soldiers were ready to march.”

Just a short time later, in typical gallant fashion, the future US President and current Revolutionary Army General George Washington went to the Ludington home to personally thank her for her help.  It was also the case that her father, Colonel Henry Ludington, went on to become an aide to General Washington.

And the fame that resulted from this extraordinary feat?  The only record of this “midnight ride” was written by her great grandson, and not widely disseminated.

It is not known exactly why the ride of Paul Revere was selected to be the one immortalized, and Sybil Ludington’s was not.  This is especially mystifying as Revere’s ride was not quite half the distance of Sybil’s, and it is also the case that Revere, along with his fellow rider William Dawes, stopped to have a snack along the way, and as a result was captured by the British.  This happened just outside of Lexington in Massachusetts, though Dawes was initially let go and Revere later released.  It is fact, though, that the obviously PR-savvy Paul Revere himself supplied a self-aggrandizing account of his ride, thus providing a tale worthy of later telling to 19th century poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

So while Hillary would no doubt say that Paul Revere, William Dawes, Colonel Ludington, George Washington, Star the horse, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and every other male entity involved in this effort were all sexist, mysogonist, racist, homophobes, it is also true that it was much easier to find words to rhyme with Revere that it is with Ludington.  Thus we have:

      Through all our history, to the last, 

      In the hour of darkness and peril and need, 

      The people will waken and listen to hear 

      The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed, 

      And the midnight message of Paul Revere.  

And not:

Through all our history, to the last,

      In the hour of darkness and peril and need,

      The people will waken and listen to mud and kin

      The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,

      And the midnight message of Sybil Ludington.

A worthy effort, though, don’t you think?


Click on the link to read Susan’s Guns & Politics column.

Guns & Politics: Alexander The Great

Guns & Politics: Field Of The Cloth Of Gold

Guns & Politics: Scottish Sniper

Guns & Politics: A Warrior And A President

Guns & Politics: The Shooting At Mayerling Changed The World

Guns & Politics: Gouverneur Morris And The Income Inequality Revolution

Gun & Politics: What Andrew Jackson Did When His Wife Was Insulted

Guns & Politics: Alexander Hamilton Vs. Aaron Burr In The Days Of Political Honor

Susan Smith brings an international perspective to her writing by having lived primarily in western Europe, mainly in Paris, France, and the U.S., primarily in Washington, D.C. She authored a weekly column for Human Events on politics with historical aspects.. She also served as the Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Children, Family, Drugs and Alcoholism, and Special Assistant to the first Ambassador of Afghanistan following the initial fall of the Taliban. Ms. Smith is a graduate of Wheeling Jesuit University and Georgetown University, as well as the Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris, France, where she obtained her French language certification. Ms. Smith now makes her home in McLean, Va.

Susan Smith