He was a noted silversmith in Boston in the late 18th century, but it’s certainly not how he’s best known. His name is mentioned in 21st-century kitchens every single day, but most cooks have no idea they’re doing so when they grab the saucepan from the drawer. He was the father of a dozen children, but pretty much no one knows that, either.
When it comes to Paul Revere, we pretty much know him for one thing. The Midnight Ride. What else is there, right? Well, other than the remaining 83 years of his life, not much. His ride is the stuff of legends, not surprisingly, a number of legends surround that famous event…the precursor to the opening shots of the American Revolution.
British soldiers had been a (mostly unwelcome) fixture in Boston for years. But in the wake of the Boston Tea Party, the Redcoats took up residence in greater numbers, both to keep the peace and to enforce the closure of Boston Harbor. As Boston became more and more a powderkeg than a bustling harbor town, Paul Revere turned much of his silversmithing business over to his oldest son and served as a messenger, shuttling updates on the situation in Boston to others in the Colonies.
So Revere’s midnight ride, begun in the last hour of April 18, 1775, was nothing new. It was what he had been doing for some time, though this time, the news was a little more urgent. British regulars had begun moving across the Charles River. Their destinations were two-fold, as were their objectives. First, they headed for Lexington (10 miles west of Boston) to arrest Samuel Adams and John Hancock, who were both considered important leaders in the Colonial resistance. And realizing that meeting this objective would likely inflame the Colonists to take up arms, the British had as their second objective seizing the ammunition depot at Concord (5 miles further west of Lexington).
Paul Revere and William Dawes set out from the Old North Church. And of course, as they departed, the famous pair of lanterns (“one if by land, two if by sea”) were held up in the steeple to warn Charlestown (just to the north) of the British movements.
Revere and Dawes would both reach Lexington in time to warn Adams and Hancock, but neither would reach Concord. They were stopped at a roadblock were Paul was detained. Dawes made his escape, but was soon thrown from his horse and didn’t complete his ride.
Paul Revere would survive the war and found the Revere Copper Company, which was renamed Copper and Brass, Inc. And that company would begin producing Revere Ware Copper Clad Stainless Steel Cookware, which to this day sits in millions of cupboards.
But that doesn’t matter, because the British would continue on and engage the Colonists in both Lexington and Concord the next day (which I hope to cover tomorrow), and the American Revolution was on. And Paul Revere’s name, stamped on a kitchen cooking utensil or not, would become synonymous with start of the fight for American independence.