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Paul Revere: The Man Behind The Notorious Ride

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In 1860, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote a poem that thrust Paul Revere from a relatively known local figure in American history into a national folk hero (Paul Revere House). The famous words of Longfellow's poem idolized Revere as a hero and renowned character. He is written into the tapestry of our Nation's history because of these famous lines as the first and last stanza illustrates:

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...

For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,

Through all our history, to the last,

In the hour of darkness and peril and need,

The people will waken and listen to hear

The hurrying hoof-beat of that steed,

And the midnight-message of Paul Revere.

Longfellow uses the phrase in the first stanza "Hardly a man is now alive who remembers that famous day and year" and in the last stanza "Through all our history, to the last..." (Longfellow) to exemplify that this one particular moment in history should be venerated and remembered. However more importantly, Paul Revere's life should be known for his productive life involving industry, politics, and community service (Paul Revere House).

Paul Revere was born in Boston's North End in December, 1734, to a French Huguenot immigrant father, Apollos Rivoire, and to Deborah Hichborn, daughter of a local artisan family (Paul Revere House). Rivioire changed his name to Paul Revere after immigrating and eventually was the head of a large household. He was the second of at least 9, possible as many as 12 children (Paul Revere House). He learned the art of gold and silversmithing from his father and at the age of nineteen became the head of his household after his father's death. This left Paul as the family's main source of income. In August, 1757, Revere married Sarah Orne and together they eventually had eight children (Paul Revere House). Sarah died in 1773, and Revere then married Rachel Walker and together they had eight children (Paul Revere House).

Paul's trade and vocation of gold and silversmith, was the cornerstone of his professional life for over 40 years (Paul Revere House). According to Paul Revere House, "his work was highly praised throughout this lifetime and is regarded as one of the outstanding achievements in American decorative arts." During the economic depression Revere made extra money by being a copper plate engraver as well as advertising himself as a dentist. He cleaned teeth and wired false teeth made of walrus ivory or animal teeth (Paul Revere House).

Revere's political involvement began through his connections with business patrons and local organizations such as the Masonic Lodge (Paul Revere House). According to Paul Revere House, he was friends with activists like James Otis and Dr. Joseph Warren. Revere's famous ride started when he received instructions from Dr. Joseph Warren to ride to Lexington to warn John Hancock and Samuel Adams of the British encroachment (Paul Revere House). The famous poem by Longfellow had many discrepancies from Revere's historical ride. Revere did not ride to Concord but rather to Lexington and most of the circumstances of his ride were in far contrast to Longfellow's audacious details in his poem (Paul Revere's Famous Ride).

In 1782, initial allegations were brought against Paul Revere by Captain Thomas Jenners Carnes, commander of marines on board the General Putnam. He was charged with disobedience, unsoldierlike behavior, and cowardice (Paul Revere Court-Martial). Revere carried out his own defense and depicted the charges brought against him as being



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