Riverchase Middle School
18 October 1989
Paul Revere like many colonial Americans was the son of an immigrant. Paul’s father Apollos who was christened Apollos Rivoire came to Boston at the age of thirteen to learn the art of silver smiting. The man Apollos served under was Mr. J. Coney. Apollos later Anglicized his name to Paul Revere and later married Deborah Hitchbourn.
In 1748 Zachariah Hicks, Master of the Boston North Writing School, talked to Paul who was thirteen. In those days it was believed that if one didn't start to learn their trade by then, they never would. Mr. Hicks told Paul to excel in silver making as he had done in his schoolwork.
Paul as an apprentice often wondered if he would be as good as his father was at silver making. When Paul was offered the job of bell ringer, his mother protested because it was an Episcopal Church and the family Revere had always been Congregationalist. His father let him because apprentices did not receive pay for their work and the bell-ringing job would be a good way for him to earn some money.
When Paul was nineteen, his father noticed that in workmanship, Paul surpassed him. His father died two months later. Paul then found himself in charge of a large family. Because of his age he could not run the shop under his own name until he was twenty-one. The shop was instead run under his mother's name. He knew that if he didn't get a famous customer, he would never have much of a business. But one day Thomas Hutchison came by with the order for a porringer. Hutchison also said it was one of the best pieces of silver work that he had ever seen. Very soon after, he was getting orders from important people. The night of his first important order he asked Sara Orne to marry him. She accepted.
The next year Paul Revere's first child, Deborah, was born. Two years later Paul Jr. was born. Debbie his first born was the second child in Boston to get smallpox and within days his wife Sarah, Paul Jr. and baby Sara had contracted smallpox. Revere and his mother had already had smallpox in the last out break so he and his mother were able to nurse the other Reveres back to health. Mary was his next child who was also very sickly and died soon after birth. The next child was Frances. Elizabeth was born around 1770. In 1772 the short-lived Issana was born and Sara his wife declined and died about one month later. While Issana was dying, Revere bumped into Rachel Walker who was to become his second wife. She helped to nurse the dying child. Even though the child died, Rachel stayed on because the children would have missed her cooking. Revere fell in love with her with the aid of his matchmaking children.
The Reveres left Clark's Wharf and moved to North Square in Boston. On December 7 177? Rachel had her first child Joshua. Her second child was born in 1777, he was named Joseph Warren Revere, in honor of his friend Dr. Joseph Warren. A year later Paul's mother died at the age of 73. Paul felt no regret over her passing since he had been a dutiful son, he only mourned. Lucy was born in 1780, and Harriet was born a year later. John was his last child. The Quartering Act was never enforced in the Revere home, it was crowded enough as it was.
Because of his father's recounts of French tyranny, Revere wanted to keep the colonies from being affected by English tyranny. Until a chance remark was made by one of his friends, Revere had always considered himself English. Once committed to the cause of independence, he was admitted to the inner circle, that group of Whig leaders that met in the Long Room. This room was located over the place of the publisher of the Boston Gazette. It was so secret that the exact membership of the Long Room is not known today.
Paul Revere joined various revolutionary clubs and the military as well as trying his hand at engraving, dentistry, bell making but really excelled in silver making.
Paul Revere was a lieutenant colonel in the military. Congress had never commissioned him even though he was a valuable messenger. He served in a Massachusetts artillery unit. His first enlistment was only for a year, and when he returned home, he said it was for good. His family found he was more thoughtful.
When the North End Caucus voted to oppose the Vending of the East India Tea Company , Revere was one of the three men chosen to select the course of action. They selected the Boston Tea Party on December 16, 1773. Before the Boston Tea Party, Revere and Henry Bass kept watch at Griffins Wharf night and day to make sure that no tea was unloaded. The Dartmouth, Eleanor and the Beaver were tea ships that were to be the objects of the planned "tea party". The patriots, including Revere, raided these ships, chopped open the tea chests and dumped the tea into the sea.
One day Samuel Adams asked Revere to become a messenger for his Massachusetts Committee of Correspondence. Because British Troops and Tories soon came to recognize him and the nature of his missions, Revere began to memorize the messages so that if searched, nothing would be found.
When the Suffolk Resolves were passed, Revere took it the three hundred miles separating Boston and Philadelphia. The first Continental Congress endorsed it on September 17, 1774.
When Gage, the British Commander in chief of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, decided to send troops to Concord where they were either to seize or destroy military stores, Paul Revere and his friend William Dawes rode on the night of April 18, 1775 to warn the people of Concord. They arranged for a signal to be sent to the Sons of Liberty in Charlestown. One lantern flashed in the North Church Bell Tower meant the British were coming by land and two meant they were coming by sea. They were also were to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock, Esq. in Lexington of their danger of arrest by the British. A third rider, young Dr. Prescott joined in the ride and was the only one to actually make it to Concord. The others were captured but released soon afterwards. It is this episode which was immortalized by the words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in the poem "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere."
After the many escapades involved with his midnight ride, Revere was unable to return to Boston so his friends decided to pay him for his services for the various committees for which he often rode. The other members of his family except for Paul Jr. left Boston to join him. Passes were obtained easily to leave because there was a lack of food in the city. Paul Jr. stayed to keep his father's shop safe from the British. Paul Jr. cleverly outwitted the British by renting the shop out to a Tory. Because of the coldness of the winter the shop would not have escaped the fate of destruction that the Liberty Tree had received.
Paul Revere made many engravings but he never claimed to be an original artist. When Dr. Warren pointed out that even worthless paper money would be better than none, Revere said that since he had been an engraver, that he could print money. Because of the watching of the city gates, Paul hired Billy Dawes to get his press. Billy Dawes was a disguise artist who disguised himself as a farmer to get the press for Paul. Thus Revere printed the first issue of Continental money.
His rides had become legend but his service as a Lt. Col. threatened to tarnish it. One time when leading a group of troops, they turned back. Dudley Saltonstall the other officer refused to engage the enemy so Revere's troops also turned back. Revere wanted a court martial to clear himself but was denied one and relieved of his command. He returned to silver smithing but in 1782 he was acquitted of the charges.
In an hour of need, Massachusetts turned to Revere for help in setting up a gun powder mill. He was able to visit a mill but was not given time to take notes or interview workers. After he left, Revere began plans for a mill of his own.
As a dentist, Revere made two false teeth for his good friend Joseph Warren who was a satisfied customer. When Warren was killed at Concord, Revere was struck with grief. When they went to the spot where Warren had been killed, they found two skeletons. Revere identified Warren's body by his teeth.
Revere had two basic styles in silver making that he followed. The earlier style was rococo with much floral and scroll work. After the revolutionary war he followed a Roman like style which had much straight lines and severe surfaces. In 1768 he made the famous Liberty bowl with the 92 names of the sons of liberty engraved on the bowl.
Revere discovered the secret of rolling copper and made sheathes for many ships including the Constitution. He made the seal of Massachusetts that is still used today. He set up a foundry and cast the first bell in Boston. When the North Church bell cracked, Paul offered to fix it.
Because of a debt to Revere for gold plated picture frames, John Singleton Copley, the famous American painter, painted Revere's picture.
Revere persisted in wearing clothing from the Revolutionary period, even in his later years. He was quite healthy late in life, but it was cut short by a terrible illness, after which he died on May 10, 1818.
Asimov, Isaac. The Birth of the United States, 1763-1816. Houghton Mifflin Co., 1974. pp. 39, 40.
Forbes, Esther. Paul Revere and the World He Lived In. Houghton Mifflin Co., 1969. pp. vii, viii, ix.
Green, Margaret. The Man Behind the Legend. Julian Messner Inc. 1964. pp. 8-10, 13, 15-20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 38, 41, 49, 51-53, 60, 65-66, 80-90, 99, 100, 106, 135-140, 145-148, 152, 153, 176, 180.
Langguth, A.J. Patriots, the Men Who Started the American Revolution. Simon and Schuster Inc. 1988. pp. 154, 595, 553.
"Paul Revere". Dictionary of American Biography. Charles Scribners's Sons. New York. 1963. pp. 515, 516.
"Paul Revere". The McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of World Biography. Vol. 9. New York. McGraw-Hill. 1973. pp. 155.