Revere, Paul (1735-1818), an American patriot, silversmith, and engraver. His fame as a hero of the American Revolution is largely due to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's popular, though somewhat inaccurate, poem Paul Revere's Ride. Revere was also a cartoonist and a pioneer industrialist.

Patriot Leader

Revere was born in Boston. His father, of French Huguenot descent, changed his name from de Revoir to Revere. He taught his silversmith craft to Paul, who became a master of the trade.

At the age of 21, Paul Revere joined the British in an unsuccessful attack on the French fort at Crown Point, New York. He returned to Boston, where he continued his silversmith work and also branched out into other crafts, including copper engraving. As difficulties mounted between the American colonies and England, Revere engraved political cartoons in favor of the colonies. His cartoons, although sometimes crude and exaggerated, were effective propaganda. He also made pictorial engravings.

In 1773 Revere led several associates in the Boston Tea Party raid. The next year he rode to Philadelphia, rushing the Suffolk Resolves to the first Continental Congress. They were adopted, including a resolution to create colonial militia. Revere became official courier for Massachusetts. On April 16, 1775, he spurred to Concord to warn colonists that the British aimed to seize military supplies. This ride was at least as important as his midnight ride two days later.

The Midnight Ride

While in Concord, Revere and militiamen arranged the signals for his ride to Lexington. According to his report, "If the British went by water, we would show two lanthorns [lanterns] in the North Church steeple; and, if by land, one." Almost a century later (1863) the ride was commemorated by Longfellow in the poem that begins:

Listen, my children, and you shall hear Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere, On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five; Hardly a man is now alive Who remembers that famous day and year.

On the night of April 18, Revere left Charlestown to alert the countryside that the British were coming. After warning John Hancock and Samuel Adams to flee Lexington, he was joined by William Dawes, who had made a similar ride from Boston. They rushed toward Concord, meeting along the way a young doctor, Samuel Prescott, who asked to join them. They were approached by British troops and Revere was captured. Dawes fled to Lexington, but Prescott rode on to Concord. Revere was soon released and returned on foot to Lexington, where he helped Hancock and Adams get away.

Later Years

Although he wanted to serve in the Continental Army, Revere was assigned to civilian work. He designed and printed the official colonial seal and the Massachusetts state seal. Revere also directed the manufacturing of gunpowder.

After the war, Revere returned to silver-smithing, making pieces that are now collectors' items. He also cast bells and made cannon. His foundry manufactured bolts and copper fittings for the Constitution ("Old Ironsides"). Revere invented a process for rolling sheet copper, used in steam boilers. To the end of his long life he wore the garb of the Revolutionary era.