The Revolutionary Paul Revere
Joel J. Miller
Review is by Molly
Joel J Miller’s The Revolutionary Paul Revere does not begin with that luminary’s famous ride to warn the colonists that the Red Coats were coming, rather, Miller offers a peek into the people who shaped the lad who would become one of the leaders of the events leading to the colonists rebellion and ultimate founding of the notion that American is what those early folk to our eastern shore had become.
In the prologue Miller sets the tone for the work as Revere takes pen in hand to send his thoughts regarding those early days of our nation to one Jeremy Belknap the secretary of the Massachusetts Historical Society.
Among 1716 arrivals to the eastern shore was Apollos Rivoire. The ragtag Boston settlement which exported 300,000 dried and salted cod to England in 1640 was now prosperous coastal city having a population of 15,000 persons. Apollos was a son of a determined Huguenot who baptized his son in secret and sent his son on the journey which would lead to Boston where religious freedom was promised. Indentured to goldsmith John Coney the teen was assured a future livelihood, it was the one which he would pass to his son Paul.
Revere's adventures began in childhood when he overthrew the constraints of rigid Puritan upbringing to form with a group of his fellows a Bell ringing guild wherein the lads would ring the bells, and lend an ear to the preaching at the local Calvinist led congregation.
His father’s death in 1754 found Paul in possession of a functioning smithy filled with customers, molds, designs and tools. He was too young to take advantage of the inheritance, the law exempted widows from apprenticeship rules, thus Deborah Revere became the shop keeper while sons Paul and Thomas did the crafting.
It was a time of much commotion, turmoil and disorder including French and Indian Wars; pre revolutionary monetary problems filled with taxation, confiscation along with tumult and riots. The upheaval in the colony was quickly followed by military occupation of Boston.
Revere’s part in infamous Boston Massacre trial; as well as his role in the Boston Tea Party were detailed in engravings Revere undertook to record the activities of that era. He married, continued his work as a gold and silver smith, became an express rider for the Massachusetts patriots; became a father, marched into battle, served as a waterfront spy, and mourned the death of his wife Sarah.
Few are not aware of the silver tankards crafted by this early patriot, I found most interesting that much of his daily wealth came not from large plate items or engravings, but rather from the thimbles, needles, buttons, buckles and the like he also crafted.
Revere’s life is a rich portrait of a man who made little secret for aspiration to attain affluence and social standing. He made significant contributions to the events leading to the colonists’ revolt against the British and served with the Massachusetts militia during the war. He faced the rigors of the times, be it threat of war, invasion, death of children or spouse or an outbreak of smallpox with the same grim determination and succeeded in overcoming each of them in turn to ultimately move from his role as silversmith plying his trade to an early manufacturing magnate.
Writer Miller presents an enjoyable peek into the man who was a soldier, husband of two wives, father of 16 children, few of whom outlived him, was a businessman, patriot who had a hand in the Massachusetts ratification of the US Constitution and left a legacy filled with engravings of times, places and people as well as items crafted for Freemasons, households and military. From jewelry to thimbles to cannon Revere was an integral part of the early days of the American nation.
Long a student of history who knows most of the 1860 era than I do of the Revolutionary period; I like chapter set up; short, easily read in a sitting, begun with a word title offered in an example of that early day script along with a quote to set the scene. The prologue leads into the tale, 26 pages of foot notes flesh details, and table of contents and index help lead readers to specifics.
Happy to recommend Joel J Miller’s The Revolutionary Paul Revere.
These reviews are personal opinions only and in no way reflect other readers' opinions of the books discussed.
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