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American Revolutionary War figures, Paul Revere

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Paul Revere

January 1, 1735 December 21, 1734 – May 10, 1818) was an American silversmith and a patriot in the American Revolution. He is most famous for alerting Colonial militia of approaching British forces before the battles of Lexington and Concord, as dramatized in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem, Paul Revere's Ride. As a result, his "midnight ride" is a legendary part of United States history. Revere was a prosperous and prominent Boston silversmith, who helped organize an intelligence and alarm system to keep watch on the British military. Revere later served as an officer in the Penobscot Expedition, one of the most disastrous campaigns of the American Revolutionary War, for which he was absolved of blame.Paul Revere was born in the North End of Boston on December 21, 1734, according to the Old Style calendar then in use, or January 1, 1735, in the modern calendar.[1] His father, a French Huguenot born Apollos Rivoire, came to Boston at the age of 13 and was apprenticed to the silversmith John Coney.[2] By the time he married Deborah Hitchborn, a member of a long-standing Boston family that owned a small shipping wharf, in 1729, Rivoire had anglicized his name to Paul Revere. Their son, Paul Revere, was the third of 12 children and eventually the eldest surviving son.[3] Revere grew up in the environment of the extended Hitchborn family, and never learned his father's native language.[4] At 13 he left school and became an apprentice to his father. The silversmith trade afforded him connections with a cross-section of Boston society, which would serve him well when he became active in the American Revolution.[5] As for religion, although his father attended Puritan services, Revere was drawn to the Church of England.[6] Revere eventually began attending the services of the political and provocative Jonathan Mayhew at the West Church.[6] His father did not approve, and as a result father and son came to blows on one occasion. Revere relented and returned to his father's church, although he did become friends with Mayhew.[7]

His father died in 1754, and Paul was legally too young to officially be the master of the family silver shop.[8] In February 1756, during the French and Indian War (the North American theater of the Seven Years' War), he enlisted in the provincial army. Possibly he made this decision because of the weak economy, since army service promised consistent pay.[9] Commissioned a second lieutenant in a provincial artillery regiment, he spent the summer at Fort William Henry at the southern end of Lake George in New York as part of an abortive plan for the capture of Fort St. Frédéric. He did not stay long in the army, but returned to Boston and assumed control of the silver shop in his own name. On August 4, 1757, he married Sarah Orne (1736–1773); their first child was born eight months later.[10] He and Sarah had eight children, but three died young, and only one survived, Paul.[11] Revere would later remarry.

Business & Political connections

Over the next few years Revere provided for not only his growing family, but his mother and unmarried older sister.[12] One of the skills that distinguished him from other silversmiths was that he was also a skilled engraver, so he could decorate his own pieces.[citation needed] Revere's silver work quickly gained attention in Boston. Surviving documents show that among more than 5,000 products crafted by his shop during his lifetime there were many small and affordable items such as buckles, buttons, rings and beads.[13]

In 1760 Revere became one of the founding members of the Masonic Lodge of Boston. Possibly introduced to freemasonry by Richard Gridley, his commanding officer during the 1756 expedition, he may have been further exposed to it during evenings in which he frequented Boston's public houses. The lodge provided an environment where social classes mixed, which was beneficial to Revere's business. The lodge would later be seen by some royal governors of Massachusetts as a principal source of resistance to British authority.

Sons of Liberty

Revere's business began to suffer when the British economy entered a recession in the years following the Seven Years' War, and declined further when the Stamp Act of 1765 resulted in a further downturn in the Massachusetts economy.[17] Business was so poor that an attempt was made to attach his property in late 1765.[18] To help make ends meet he even took up dentistry, a skill set he was taught by a practicing surgeon who lodged at a friend's house.[19]

Although Revere was not one of the "Loyal Nine"—organizers of the earliest protests against the Stamp Act—he was well connected with its members, who were laborers and artisans.[20] Revere did not participate in some of the more raucous protests, such as the attack on the home of Lieutenant Governor Thomas Hutchinson.[21] In 1765, a group of militants who would become known as the "Sons of Liberty" formed. Revere was one of them.[22][23] From 1765 on, in support of the dissident cause, he produced engravings with political themes and other artifacts. Among these engravings are a depiction of the arrival of British troops in 1768 (which he termed "an insolent parade") and a famous depiction of the March 1770 Boston Massacre (see illustration). Although the latter was engraved by Revere and he included the inscription, "Engraved, Printed, & Sold by Paul Revere Boston", it was modeled on a drawing by Henry Pelham, and Revere's engraving of the drawing was colored by a third man and printed by a fourth.[24] Revere also produced a bowl commemorating the Massachusetts assembly's refusal to retract the Massachusetts Circular Letter. (This letter, adopted in response to the 1767 Townshend Acts, called for united colonial action against the acts. King George III had issued a demand for its retraction.

Longfellow's poem is credited with creating the national legend of Paul Revere, a previously little-known Massachusetts silversmith.[17] Upon Revere's death in 1818, for example, his obituary did not mention his midnight ride but instead focused on his business sense and his many friends.[18] The fame that Longfellow brought to Revere, however, did not materialize until after the Civil War amidst the Colonial Revival Movement of the 1870s.[19] In 1875, for example, the Old North Church mentioned in the poem began an annual custom called the "lantern ceremony" recreating the action of the poem.[20] Three years later, the Church added a plaque noting it as the site of "the signal lanterns of Paul Revere".[21] Revere's elevated historical importance also led to unsubstantiated rumors that he made a set of false teeth for George Washington. Revere's legendary status continued for decades and, in part due to Longfellow's poem, authentic silverware made by Revere commanded high prices. Wall Street tycoon J. P. Morgan, for example, offered $100,000 for a punch bowl Revere made.[22]

In 1896 Helen F. Moore, dismayed that William Dawes had been forgotten, penned a parody of Longfellow's poem:

'Tis all very well for the children to hearOf the midnight ride of Paul Revere;But why should my name be quite forgot,Who rode as boldly and well, God wot?Why should I ask? The reason is clear—My name was Dawes and his Revere.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 September 2011 19:47