Paul Revere? Ain't he the Yankee that had to go for help?
-old Texas joke


12 Dec 1734 - 10 May 1818

Paul Revere is multifaceted and complex. He didn't play a political role in the American Revolution, but he was one of, if not the most significant organizer of collective effort, owing mostly to his network of contacts. Hence, Revere became a major behind-the-scenes leader by 1774. He did not just go on one ride, and was not a lone rider, either, though this has been mythologized so deeply in American culture that most people seem to think this was so. E.g.: In December of 1774, the British decided that it would be a fine idea to shut down, for all intents and purposes, the supply of arms and munitions to America. (Some Americans don't like this idea today; almost all Americans were displeased with it then).

There was a supply of gunpowder near Portsmouth harbor in New Hampshire, so on December 13, Revere headed north on his horse to warn the people there that two regiments of Regulars were on their way, and that owing to the King's Order in Council, securing more arms would be rather difficult. On the morning of the 14th, a fife-and-drum parade went through the town and hundreds of militiamen took the fort at William and Mary. They left with barrels of powder.

Meanwhile, couriers had spread Revere's warning through various New Hampshire towns, and more than one thousand men were at Portsmouth on the morning of Devember 15th to take munitions. The first British frigate had actually been in mid-sail when Revere first rode out, so this information wasn't entirely correct. The reinforcement frigate was stuck in an American port for days thanks to a clever Yankee dude and the third reinforcement arrived a week after everyone had gone back home. This took place months before the battles at Concord and Lexington.

It should be kept in mind, also, that Revere's ride took place within the context of a New England attitude of ordered freedom. They had values of group integrity and individual responsibilities. Keeping this in mind, it becomes more clear why there were others helping to spread the Lexington alarm. It was primarily Revere, however, who had engaged the help of influential, socially prominent leaders and institutions. Remember that his links with leaders in communities had been forged before this event, and his ability to reach them made a difference in mobilizing the people.

In 1776 Revere joined the army as a lieutenant colonel but his military career was short-lived. He began to focus on metallurgy, and opened a bell foundry, while his son took care of the silvershop. Revere was also an influence on the ratification of the Federal Constitution. Revere had eight children with his first wife and eight with his second and had 51 grandchildren. He made 18 rides in the Revolution.

Paul Revere's Ride by David Hackett Fischer, is very good, and the source of much of my info, though I did absorb a lot of PR info during a course at university..(where they said I was mad)

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