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Paul Revere

patriotic silversmith

Paul Revere

Paul Revere was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on January 1, 1735, the son of a silversmith. The family name was originally spelled "Rivoire," but Paul's father changed it to "Revere" so that "the Bumpkins should pronounce it easier." Paul studied at North Grammar School in Boston, and learned the silversmith trade. In 1756, he served for a short time in the French and Indian War. After the war, he married Sarah Orme, and entered his father's business.

Revolutionary Patriot

Revere was one of many Boston businessmen who protested against British policies. He engraved a number of political cartoons that received wide attention, and his broadside depiction of the Boston Massacre fueled colonial hatred. As the leader of the Boston craftsmen, he met such revolutionary leaders as Samuel Adams and John Hancock, and he was one of the band of "Indians" who took part in the Boston Tea Party on December 16, 1773.

Revere also served as a special messenger for the Boston patriots. He was so familiar to the British in this role that his name even appeared in London journals.

In 1775, General Thomas Gage, the British commander-in-chief of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, was instructed to enforce order among the colonists. Gage ordered Lieutenant Colonel Francis Smith to Concord with a detachment of 700 men, with orders to destoy the supplies there and to arrest John Adams and John Hancock. Smith began assembling his forces on Boston Common on the evening of April 18.

Joseph Warren, a patriot leader, sent Revere and William Dawes to warn Adams and Hancock in Lexington and the patriots in Concord. Revere left Boston at about 10 p.m. and arrived in Lexington at midnight, where he warned Adams and Hancock. At 1 a.m., Revere, William Dawes, and Dr. Samuel Prescott left for Concord. A British cavalry patrol suprised them on their way. Prescott and Dawes escaped, but Revere was captured. Only Prescott got through to Concord. The British ultimately released Revere and let him return to Lexington.

map of Paul Revere's "Midnight Ride"
map of Revere's famous 'Midnight Ride'

From 1776 to 1779, Revere commanded a garrison at Castle William in Boston Harbor. In 1779, he commanded artillery in the disastrous Penobscot Expedition, an attempt to invade British territory in Maine. Revere was accused of cowardice and insubordination in the disputes that followed the expedition, but a court-martial ultimately cleared him of any wrongdoing.

Craftsman and Industrialist

After the war started Revere learned to manufacture gunpowder, and then designed and set up a gunpowder mill at Canton, Massachusetts. He also designed and printed the first issue of Continental paper currency, and he made the state seal still used by Massachusetts. He even cast bronze cannon for the army.

After the war Revere returned to his silversmith trade in Boston. He also developed considerable skill in engraving copper plates for printing and engraving, cast cannon and bells in bronze, and made the copper fittings for the frigate U.S.S. Constitution ("Old Ironsides"). Revere was the first American to discover the process of rolling sheet copper, and built the first copper-milling mill in the United States. Until his time, all sheet copper had to be imported.

a Revere tankard
a Revere tankard

Paul Revere died in Boston on May 10, 1818.

Site of Interest

The Paul Revere House

See Also

French and Indian War
Samuel Adams
Massachusetts Bay Colony
April 18
John Adams
U.S.S. Constitution

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The Robinson Library >> Massachusetts >> History

This page was last updated on February 10, 2019.