Today, May 10, is the anniversary of the death of Paul Revere.
Paul Revere was born in Boston, December of 1734, as Paul Rivoire, to a French Huguenot immigrant. His father was a goldsmith, and Paul was the second of many children, and the oldest surviving son. Paul was 19 when his father died, leaving the family business to him.
In 1756, Revere volunteered to fight the French at Lake George, NY as a 2nd Lt. in the colonial artillery. In August 1757, Revere married Sarah Orne, with whom he had eight children. After Sarah’s death in 1773, he married Rachel Walker, and had eight more children.
Revere was an accomplished goldsmith and silversmith, and his work was highly praised in his lifetime. He worked as a copper plate engraver and illustrator for books, magazines, business cards, political cartoons, bookplates, song books, and bills of fare for taverns during the pre-Revolution economic depression. He was also a dentist from 1768-1775, but never made George Washington’s teeth.
Revere was a member of the Masonic Lodge of St. Andrew, and gathered intelligence by watching the movements of British soldiers. He was a courier for the Boston Committee of Correspondence and the Massachusetts Committee of Safety, riding to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. He also spread word of the Boston Tea Party to New York and Philadelphia.
At 10 pm, April 18, 1775, Revere was told by Dr. Joseph Warren to ride to Lexington to warn John Hancock and Samuel Adams of the British approach.
Two associates rowed him across the Charles River to Charlestown, where he borrowed a horse from his friend, Deacon John Larkin. While there, he verified that the local Sons of Liberty chapter saw his pre-arranged signal of “Two if by sea”, two lanterns hung in the belltower of Christ Church in Boston. The “by sea” indicated that they would row across Charles River to Cambridge, rather than marching across Boston Neck, by land.
Revere then rode north towards Lexington, stopping at each house to warn the countryside. A sentry near the house where Adams and Hancock were told him to stop making so much noise. His reply? “Noise! You’ll have noise enough before long. The regulars are coming out!”
Two other riders, William Dawes and Dr. Samuel Prescott, on the same mission by another route, met up with Revere. They decided to continue to Concord where weapons and supplies were hidden. All three were arrested by a British patrol, Dawes and Prescott escaped quickly, but Revere was held for a bit longer, then released. Revere returned to Lexington in time to see part of the battle on the Lexington Green.
After the Revolution, he expanded his business, opening a small hardware store until 1789. In 1788, he opened a foundry for shipyards, which created the brass fittings for the USS Constitution, along with bolts, spikes, nails, cannons, and bells. One of his largest bells still hangs in Boston’s Kings Chapel.
In 1801, he opened the first American copper rolling mill to end dependence on British copper. The USS Constitution’s hull was sheeted with Revere’s copper, as well as the Massachusetts State House dome in 1803. “Revereware” copper bottomed pots and pans are now made by another company, but started out from Revere Copper and Brass, Inc., a descendant of Revere’s rolling mill.
Revere died of natural causes May 10, 1818, at the age of 83, leaving his well-established copper business to his sons and grandsons. He is buried in Boston’s Granary Burying Ground.
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