Paul Revere and His Son
The Revolutionary War started on April 19, 1775 in Lexington, Massachusetts (the day after Paul Revere made his famous ride) and did not officially end until September 3, 1783. I had ancestors living in this country during that time and although I do not know if they participated in the war directly, I am sure certain aspects of the war affected their life. For as in any war, there were many people that helped our war effort, without actually picking up a gun.
We have all heard about Paul Revere making his famous ride, but this story goes a little deeper into the man, and how his actions affected his family. It also helps to lay a background as to WHY our country went to war and the lifestyles of our ancestors.
On a beautiful spring morning, in 1607, three storm-beaten ships, under the control of Captain Christopher Newport, anchored near the mouth of Chesapeake Bay in what is now known as Virginia. These ships were filled with men who were prepared to build the first settlement in this new land.
One of the men that came ashore from those ships was George Percy, the active and handsome son of the Earl of Northumberland. Percy wrote down several observations pertaining to this new land. He described "noble forests, the ground carpeted with flowers, fine strawberries that were four times bigger than the ones found in England, oysters, plenty of small game, stores of turkey nests with many eggs and an Indian town where the savages brought them corn bread and tobacco smoked in clay pots."
These men laid out the settlement of Jamestown with a fort, a church, storehouse, and a row of little huts. This settlement consisted of male farmers that were employees of the London company who owned the land. Everything the settlers grew (except what they needed to eat for survival reasons), went into a company storehouse and was sent to England to be sold. At the end of seven years, the profits were supposed to be divided up equally between the settlers, but some colonists worked harder than others and many of them did not think this was fair.
In 1614, Sir Thomas Dale, the manager for the company, gave some of the men three acres of land for their own use and discovered that by owning his own land, one man would work as hard as 10 men would before. As a result of this, the company changed its policy and allowed all the men to have their own land.
By 1619, Virginia had no more then 2,000 people and most of them were men, but that was about to change. A ship arrived from England with 90 young maidens who were to be given as wives to those settlers who would pay a hundred and twenty pounds of tobacco for their transportation. This helped convert America from simply being a place to work, into a place where families could start new lives together. And this was a good thing for some families, because problems were developing back in England.
From 1628 to 1640, the Puritans in England were suffering persecution and were in a state of depression and apprehension. The royal authorities were committed to a revival in the church and determined to make it completely dependent on the crown and the archbishops.
The King dissolved the Parliament and ran the country by himself for 10 years. He even imprisoned his chief opponents. Many puritans believed the best course was to leave England and build new lives and homes in America.
In 1629, five ships carrying 400 passengers, 10 head of cattle and 40 goats left London and arrived in Salem, Massachusetts. The people aboard these ships were Puritans. They were members of the Church of England who at first wished to reform or purify its doctrines. In the general emigration from 1628 to 1640, some 20,000 of the sturdiest people left England for America. Over 1,200 ships made the voyage across the ocean with settlers, livestock, and furniture. Many Puritans did not come as individuals or families, but as entire villages. Certain English towns were half depopulated and New England became a microcosm of old England.
Over the years that followed, there were many people that wanted to come to America and build a new life, for a variety of reasons. One such person was a Huguenot refugee named Apollos de Rivoire. He was a young boy when he first arrived in Boston. As he grew up he learned the silversmith trade. He eventually married and in 1735, he had a son that he named Paul Revere.
In 1749, 200,000 acres of land in the Ohio valley was granted to a group of Virginians. The French did not like this and built two forts on the Ohio River to keep the Virginians out. In 1753, a 21 year old militia officer and surveyor named Maj. George Washington was sent to talk with the French, but was informed that he was trespassing on French territory. Several skirmishes broke out between the French and the Virginians and by 1755 it turned into a full-scale war. In 1756, at the age of 21, Paul Revere went to fight in that French Indian war.
The British and Americans won the war in 1763 but when it was over, England passed a proclamation preventing the colonists from building settlements west of the Appalachians. The land east of the Appalachians was getting crowded and since the colonists had just risked their lives in eight years of war over this land, they were not pleased at being told they could not use the land.
Apollos de Rivoire had passed his knowledge as a silversmith, onto his son Paul Revere and after the French Indian war was over, Paul used his skill as a copper engraver to make cartoons and other political propaganda protesting England's proclamation.
It seemed like every year he would get more upset with England and would fight them by using his skill as an engraver to make more plates for printing cartoons and other political propaganda. Then in 1773, he helped to organize the Boston Tea Party.
When Paul Revere had a son, he was named Paul Revere Jr. and on April 18, 1775, Paul Revere Jr. was standing in the doorway to his house. It was almost 10 pm in the evening. And since the top story of his house extended quite a ways over the bottom story, it caused shadows to fall, making the doorway even darker then the street was. Paul Revere Jr. was happy to have this extra darkness because he had stolen something from his parents' house and was trying to hide in the darkness of the doorway.
Since he had become a teenager Paul Junior was not so little anymore, but his mother, Deborah Revere, still called him Little Paul. The silversmith trade was not the only thing Little Paul was learning from his father. Paul Jr. admired his father and wanted to be just like him some day. His father not only had a great talent for working with silver and copper, and was also a war hero, but he was also a great horseman and a devout patriot.
Paul Jr. was to young to remember all of the activities his father was involved in, but he never got tired of hearing his father tell him about his war adventures. With Paul Sr. being such an activist, it was no wonder that Little Paul was known as a mischievous lad by the other boys in the North End of Old Boston. Little Paul was always ready for any kind of excitement and he was sure that something exciting was about to happen.
During the day, he had been watching his father experimenting with casting the chime for bells and making engraving plates from copper, so that pictures could be reproduced from them for the books and news sheets that were being printed. But at night, Paul Sr. seemed to turn into a man of mystery.
Paul Sr. had become an express rider for Boston's Committee of Correspondence and to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. Several months ago, he rode to New Hampshire with the intelligence that British Gen. Thomas Gage was planning to remove weapons and ammunition from Fort William. As a result of that information being delivered, the New Hampshiremen were able to attack the fort and seize supplies that could later help to save the lives of patriots at the Battle of Bunker Hill.
Paul Jr. could hear the men talking about all of the unrest with the British and he knew that a war with the mother country was not far off. Then just two days ago, his father rode out of Boston to warn the patriots that the British planned to capture their military stores at Concord and arrest John Hancock and Samuel Adams.
There had been many times when Paul Jr. had slipped out of the house and followed his father along the narrow streets until he would slip into a tavern that had a valiant green dragon on the sign out front. Paul had no doubt that his father was at that very tavern right now, because that is where the Sons of Liberty met late at night. Since his buckled shoes had a loud squeak when he walked, he decided to take them off so that he could sneak down the street silently. Just as he took his first step into the street, he saw something that made him retreat back into the shadows beside the house and hide.
A man with his three cornered hat pulled low to cover his face and a long cloth cloak wrapped around him, was walking toward Jr. great haste. Suddenly, the man stopped at the doorway and entered the house. It was Paul Sr. A moment later, Paul Sr. returned from the house with a lantern half concealed in his cloak. Looking up toward the tower at the North Church, he walked toward the river.
Paul Jr. followed his father, making sure not to make a sound in his stocking feet. As he followed behind his father, he thought about the letter he had in his pocket that his father had written to him.
The letter said,
"My Son: It is now in your power to be serviceable to me, your mother and yourself. I beg you will keep yourself at home or where your mother sends you. Don't go away until I send you word. When you bring any goods to the ferry, mark them with my name.
Your Loving Father,
Paul Jr. also thought about the words in a letter that his father had written to his mother.
"Pray tell Paul, by all means, to stay at home that he may help, when the time comes, to bring our goods to the ferry. Tell him not to leave the shop until I ask him to. Tell Paul I expect he will behave himself and attend to my business and not be out of the way in time of need."
The words in those letters gave Paul Jr. the feeling that something big was about to happen, he just wasn't sure what it was. He was hoping for some type of adventure and he figured that if he could follow his father, he just might be able to overhear some of the details. Paul Jr. heard that England proceeded to pass some new laws and taxes governing America; however, these laws and taxes were being passed without letting the Americans have an elected representative in Parliament to represent them. It was this aspect of being taxed by England without having any representation in Parliament that seemed to bother Paul's father and his friends.
As he followed his father, he noticed the door to a house open and two men stepped outside to join his father. As the three men continued to walk down the street in front of Paul Jr., he heard an upstairs window open in the house the two men had just came out of. A young girl that Paul Jr. knew looked out the window and said, "Paul, where are you going so late at night?" The boy put his finger to his lips and motioned for her to be silent and continued on his journey.
When they got closer to the river, with Charlestown on the other side, Paul Jr. could see a boat rocking with the tide. The two men that were with his father got into the boat and looked toward the man-of-war's masts outlined against the new moon. They motioned for Paul Sr. to get into the boat also, but he hesitated.
"The oars will be heard. We cannot risk that." he said.
The sound of his father's words excited Paul Jr. He wanted to help his patriotic father, so he ran back to the house where the girl had called out to him. He picked up a small pebble and threw it at her window to get her attention. When she came to the window, he whispered, "Toss me down a bit of soft cloth in the name of the Sons of Liberty-any type of cloth-for muffling my father's oars. He is bound for Charlestown in secret, and when I give it to him, I must go home."
The little girl tossed down her red homespun petticoat and the young patriot took it to his father where it helped muffle the oars on the boat that took Paul Revere to the Charlestown side of the river, so he could mount the saddled house which Deacon Larkin had sent for the "Midnight Ride of Paul Revere."
The British forces left Boston that night. Their orders were to seize the rebellious leaders, John Hancock and Samuel Adams, and to destroy the rebel stores of ammunition, believed to be hidden in Concord.
As a result of the ride made by Paul Revere, the Minutemen, made up of farmers and tradesman of the colonies militia, got together and raised their arms to protect themselves against the British.
On June 10, 1776, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston were appointed to draw up a formal declaration that was intended to be an expression of the American mind. On July 4th, 1776, the final proclamation was adopted by the American Congress. Even though the war did not officially end until the Peace of Paris was signed on September 3, 1783, we celebrate our independence on July 4th because that is the day our "Declaration" of Independence was accepted by congress.
Paul Revere Jr. went on to become a Lieutenant in the Continental Army at the age of 16. His father, Paul Sr. was the Commander of the Boston fortress from 1778 to 1779. When the war was over, father and son worked together in their shop to cast over 60 church bells. They also made bolts, spikes, pumps and recoppered the ship named, "Constitution." There is an old letter written about that ship that states, "When it was finished, the Carpenters gave nine cheers, which were answered by the seamen and the Caulkers, because in fourteen days they had completed coppering a Ship with Copper 'made in the United States'."
Paul Revere Sr. also designed and printed the first Continental Money. His legacy as a great American continues. He lived to the ripe age of 83 and still dressed in his Revolutionary clothing as a reminder to himself and others of the part he played in helping a growing nation. His strength and beliefs were handed down through many generations and I am sure he was proud of his grandson for continuing the legacy when he fought in the Civil War.Reprinted from the July 1997 issue of The Legacy Magazine.
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