The Midnight Rider
|Paul Revere (December 22, 1734 (OS) /
January 1, 1735 (NS) – May 10, 1818) was a
silversmith and a patriot in the American
He was glorified after his death for his role as a
messenger in the battles of Lexington and
Concord, and Revere's name and his
"midnight ride" are well-known in the United
States as a patriotic symbol.
Revere was a prosperous and prominent
Boston craftsman in his lifetime, who helped
organise a security and alert/alarm system to
keep watch on the British military.
Paul Revere (1735-1818), American patriot, silversmith, and engraver, is
remembered for his ride before the Revolutionary War to warn American patriots
of a planned British attack. His silverware was among the finest produced in
America in his day.
Paul Revere was born on Jan. 1, 1735, in Boston, Mass., the son of Apollos De
Revoire, a French Huguenot who had come to Boston at the age of 13 to
apprentice in the shop of a silversmith. Once Revoire had established his own
business, he Anglicized his name. Paul, the third of 12 children, learned
silversmithing from his father. On Aug. 17, 1757, he married Sarah Orne and
eventually became the father of eight children.
As early as 1765, Revere began to experiment with engraving on copper and
produced several portraits and a songbook. He was popular as a source for
engraved seals, coats of arms, and bookplates, and he began to execute
engravings which were anti-British. In 1768 Revere undertook dentistry and
produced dental devices. The same year he made one of the most famous pieces
of American colonial silver--the bowl commissioned by the Fifteen Sons of Liberty.
It is engraved to honor the "glorious Ninety-two Members of the Honorable House
of Representatives of the Massachusetts Bay, who, undaunted by the insolent
Menores of Villains in Power ... Voted not to rescind" a circular letter they had sent
to the other colonies protesting the Townshend Acts. Revere's virtuosity as a
craftsman extended to his carving picture frames for John Singleton Copley, who
painted the famous portrait of Revere in shirt sleeves holding a silver teapot.
Paul Revere's Ride
Revere became a trusted messenger for the Massachusetts Committee of Safety.
He foresaw an attempt by the British troops against the military stores which were
centered in Concord, and he arranged a signal to warn the patriots in Charlestown.
During the late evening of April 18, 1775, the chairman of the Committee of Safety
told him that the British were going to march to Concord. Revere signaled by
hanging two lanterns in the tower of the North Church (probably the present Christ
Church). He crossed the river, borrowed a horse in Charlestown, and started for
Concord. He arrived in Lexington at midnight and roused John Hancock and
Samuel Adams from sleep; the two fled to safety. Revere was captured that night
by the British, but he persuaded his captors that the whole countryside was
aroused to fight, and they freed him. He returned to Lexington, where he saw the
first shot fired on the green. It is this ride and series of events which have been
immortalized by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in his poem "Paul Revere's Ride."
In the same year, 1775, the Massachusetts provincial congress sent Revere to
Philadelphia to study the only working powder mill in the Colonies. Although he was
only allowed to walk through the mill and not to take any notes about it, he
remembered enough to establish a mill in Canton. During the Revolutionary War,
he continued to play an active role. He was eventually promoted to the rank of
After the war Revere became a pioneer in the process of copper plating, and he
made copper spikes for ships. In 1795, as grand master of the Masonic fraternity, he
laid the cornerstone of the new statehouse in Boston. Throughout the remainder of
his life, he continued to experiment with metallurgy and to take a keen interest in
contemporary events. He died in Boston on May 10, 1818.
Revere is also remembered today as a craftsman. His work in silver spanned two
major styles. His earliest work is in the rococo style, which is characterized by the
use of asymmetric floral and scroll motifs and repoussé decoration; this was done
before the Revolution. From this, he evolved a neoclassic style after the
Revolution. This style, developed in England, was based on the straight lines and
severe surfaces of Roman design. In 1792 Revere produced one of the
acknowledged American masterpieces in this style--a complete tea set
commissioned by John and Mehitabel Templeman of Boston. The type of
ornamentation employed in this tea set was being used in Massachusetts
architecture by Charles Bulfinch and Samuel Mclntire.
Revere's silver is marked with the initials "P R" in a block. This was the usual type of
marking on American silver of the 18th century. Revere commanded a very
distinguished Boston clientele and was called on to make a number of memorial
and commemorative pieces. Like many silversmiths of the period, he also worked
Revere was also a master of engraving. An on-the-spot reporter, he recorded the
events leading up to and during the Revolution with great accuracy. These
engravings were advertised in Boston newspapers and were eagerly purchased by
the public. In 1770 the Boston Gazette advertised for sale Revere's engraving A
View of Part of the Town of Boston in New England and British Ships of War Landing
Their Troops, 1768. Revere added to the print a description of the troops, who
paraded "Drums beating, Fifes playing ... Each Soldier having received 16 rounds of
Powder and Ball." Today, all his silver and engravings are eagerly sought by
Homeschool unless otherwise stipulated.