Paul Revere was born in the North End of Boston on December 21, 1734, and was an 18th-century silversmith, engraver, early industrialist, and Patriot in the American Revolution. He is best known for his midnight ride that alerted the colonial militia in April 1775 of the British forces’ approach before the battles of Lexington and Concord. This heroic incident of his has also been described in a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Paul Revere’s Ride (1861).
While he is most remembered for his Midnight Ride, his copper engravings and other propaganda portray Boston as an oppressed and ill-treated town that was occupied by a brutal army of British regulars. Post-war, he went on to be a successful entrepreneur opening an iron foundry and later a copper mill that produced practical goods for the local populace.
Throughout his life, he has been part of significant moments in history. Some of these are listed below:
Resisting Taxation Without Representation
In August of 1765, Paul Revere participated in the Stamp Act Riots in response to the impending Stamp Act that was to take effect in the coming months. Following swiftly on the heels of the Stamp Act’s repeal was the passage of the Declaratory Act in 1766, further asserting Parliament’s right to tax the colonies. From this point forward, Paul Revere dedicated himself to the production of engravings, which highlighted the excesses of the British government, and the unpopularity of their laws in Boston. In his engraving of British troops’ arrival, Revere included towering church steeples along Boston’s skyline as evidence of the town’s orderly and religious origins.
Paul Revere’s Ride
Paul Revere was sent by Dr. Joseph Warren to alert the countryside of British regular troop movements on the evening of April 18, 1775, the day before the Battle of Lexington-Concord. While Henry Wadsworth Longfellow desired Paul Revere as the lone rider in this journey, that was not the case. Two other men, William Dawes and Samuel Prescott rode alongside him, and by the end of the night, as many as forty men on horseback were spreading the word across Boston’s Middlesex County.
Paul Revere was a master propagandist. Using his artisan skills to craft engravings, he incited the colonists to join in the rebellion. The growing unrest led to the Boston Massacre, and a crowd of colonists faced off on Boston’s King Street near the Customs house. Revere reworked a Henry Pelham drawing in an engraving and widely distributed prints of the stark image of armed British troops aiming at the colonists, making this one of his best-known pieces of propaganda.
His Legacy and Leadership
Though best remembered for his horsemanship, Revere’s most important contributions came from his hammer and chisel. His ability to appeal to colonial subjects’ sensibilities through the works of his copper engravings and vigils demonstrated the power of propaganda. He also opened a copper mill that produced bells for churches, rolled copper for the hulls of wooden ships, and copper bolts and spikes useful to Boston’s burgeoning ship industry.
All of these facts highlight the fact that Paul Revere was a man of many talents and a true revolutionary. Hence, he was indispensable to Boston’s success in resisting the authority of the British Parliament and King George III.