January 1, 1735 —
Paul Revere was born today. He was the son of Apollos Rivoire, a French Huguenot (Protestant) immigrant, and Deborah Hichborn, daughter of a local artisan family; Apollos changed his name to Paul Revere after immigrating.
His eldest son, Paul, who became famous for both his craftsmanship and his midnight ride, was educated at the North Writing School and learned the art of gold and silversmithing from his father. When Paul was 19 (and nearly finished with his apprenticeship) his father died, leaving Paul as the family’s main source of income. Two years later, in 1756, Revere volunteered to fight the French at Lake George, NY, where he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the colonial artillery.
In August, 1757, Revere married Sarah Orne. Together, they had eight children. Soon after Sarah’s death in 1773, Revere married Rachel Walker with whom he had eight children.
His primary vocation was goldsmith/silversmith, a trade he learned from his father. His silvershop was the cornerstone of his professional life for more than 40 years, and he was responsible for the workmanship and quality of the metal alloy that was used. He employed numerous apprentices and journeymen to produce pieces ranging from simple spoons to magnificent full tea sets. His work, highly praised during his lifetime, is regarded as one of the outstanding achievements in American decorative arts.
Revere also supplemented his income with other work. During the economic depression before the American Revolution, Revere also began working as a copper plate engraver. He produced illustrations for books and magazines, business cards, political cartoons, bookplates, a song book, and bills of fare for taverns. He also advertised as a dentist from 1768 to 1775, who cleaned teeth and wired in false teeth carved from walrus ivory or animal teeth. Contrary to popular myth, he did not make George Washington’s dentures. Fabricating a full set was beyond his expertise.
Paul Revere died on May 10, 1818.
Words of Wisdom
I knew what they were after; that I had alarmed the country all the way up, that their boats were caught aground, and I should have 500 men there soon. One of them said they had 1,500 coming; he seemed surprised and rode off into the road, and informed them who took me, they came down immediately on a full gallop.