Paul Revere: Biography, Facts & Quotes

Instructor: Erica Cummings

Erica teaches college Humanities, Literature, and Writing classes and has a Master's degree in Humanities.

Paul Revere and his famous ride to Lexington played a pivotal role in the American Revolution. Read this lesson to learn about the life of this famous patriot!

Brief Biography of Paul Revere

In 1734, Paul Revere was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the same state where he would later make his mark as a businessman, patriot, and advocate for the American Revolution. Paul Revere was born into a large family, and he would eventually create a large family himself. He had 8 children with his first wife, Sarah; after Sarah died, he married his second wife, Rachel, in 1773 and had another 8 children! From an early age until his death in 1818, Revere was an industrious and patriotic individual. His legacy as a businessman and a patriot during the American Revolution would eventually solidify him as a legend in American history.

Portrait of Paul Revere
Portrait of Paul Revere

Paul Revere: The Businessman

On the business front, Revere took up his father's business of metal-working, which he would practice most of his life. He worked with gold, silver, and later copper, and he kept his business alive through economic repressions and a war. In fact, his business, Revere Copper and Brass, still exists today in Boston! His metalworking business made numerous products, including tea sets, utensils, engravings, church bells, and even copper sheets used to construct ships for the Navy. Some of his engravings were used as propaganda to support the American Revolution, and many of his works and products survive today.

Engraving of the Boston Massacre by Paul Revere
Engraving of the Boston Massacre by Paul Revere

Paul Revere: The Patriot

Paul Revere was also involved in the military and politics, and he helped the American colonists in their rebellion against the British. He was a soldier in both the French and Indian War (mid-1700s) and later in the American Revolutionary War. Revere became acquainted with fellow patriots, like Samuel Adams, and was very involved in patriotic groups of the time, such as the Freemasons and the Sons of Liberty. In the 1770s, Revere joined the Boston Committee of Correspondence and Safety as a rider who would spread the word about patriotic activities going on in Boston. These committees of correspondence and safety were established in many of the colonies as a means of communicating about British oppression and directing the American militia.

As the American Revolutionary War drew near, Revere's commitment to the American cause increased. Revere helped to spread the word about pre-Revolutionary activities, like the Boston Massacre (1770) and the Boston Tea Party (1773). He even became a spy and would alert surrounding cities of the movement of British troops. By 1775, the American colonists knew that armed conflict with Britain was a real possibility. So, Revere and others carefully watched for any movement of the British troops.

Revere's most famous contribution to the Revolutionary cause was the Midnight Ride on the night of April 18, 1775, where he helped prepare the American colonists for attacks by the British. On the night of April 18, Revere was instructed to ride to Lexington, Massachusetts, with the news that the British were on their way to arrest patriots there.

Revere had also arranged the famous signal of lanterns to indicate how the British were approaching: 1 if by land, and 2 if by sea. Since the British were coming by sea, two lanterns were hung in Christ Church in Boston as Revere set out on his journey. Revere was eventually joined by two others as he rode first to Lexington and then to Concord with this message. Once in Concord, the British actually captured Revere but not before he had given the colonists enough time to prepare to meet the British in battle. The colonists and the British would indeed clash early on April 19, 1775, in the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first official battles of the American Revolutionary War.

Statue of Paul Revere in Boston
Statue of Paul Revere in Boston

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