PAUL REVERE

Short Talk Bulletin - Vol.I    January, 1923    No.1
by:  Unknown


"Listen my children, and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere"

These opening lines of Longfellow's poem, and the  thrilling story which follows, have fascinated us for many  years.  History has recorded the details of the famous ride,  and the incidents connected with it; but Masons know little  about Paul Revere that arouses enthusiasm. 

It is my purpose  tonight to bring out the important facts regarding him and  to show the setting which brings our patriot brother closer  to us.  The forefathers of Paul Revere were Huguenots, that  brave sect of French Protestants who for many years defied  Rome and the King of France.

The Huguenots maintained their  identity and churches in spite of edicts and persecutions.   In 1540, six of their villages were completely destroyed and  the inhabitants driven out, ravaged and murdered at the  behest of the King.  On August 24, 1572, the Huguenots were  the victims of one of the most despicable massacres that  ever took place - the Massacre of St. Bartholomew - in which  more than six thousand of them were sought out in Paris and  murdered in a human hunt lasting three days.  The waters of the Seine ran red with blood; the bodies of the victims were  so numerous that the current was unable to carry them away;  and for many miles the banks of the river were covered with  their remains.

When the news of the massacre reached Rome a  three day's celebration was ordered by the ecclesiastical authorities.  King Charles of France, who, together with his mother, had been influenced by Church leaders to order the  massacre, was congratulated on the service thus performed  for the Holy Roman Church. The persecutions to which the Huguenots were subjected  caused more than four hundred thousand French to leave the  country and settle elsewhere.

Among those who fled was  Simon de Revoire, who moved to the Island of Guernsey in the  English Channel.  Simon's brother Isaac, being a man with a  large family, stayed on in a remote part of France, later  sending one of his sons, Apollo de Revoire, to his Uncle  Simon, at the age of thirteen.  After a time his uncle sent  the Nephew to Boston, where he was apprenticed to a  Goldsmith.  Here he learned the secrets of the trade, and after a visit to Guernsey, he returned to America with the  intention of making this country his home.  His first step  was to change his name to new one more easily pronounced by his  english speaking neighbors, and he was henceforth known as  Mr. Paul Revere.

Establishing himself in business as a gold and  silversmith, Revere married Miss Deborah Hitchborn in 1729.  Twelve children were born of this union. The Paul Revere we are discussing tonight was the third of these, born January 8, 1735.We learn that Revere received his education at the  famous old "North Grammar School" kept by Master John Tileson, who taught school in Boston for eighty years.  He  was especially famed for his skill in penmanship.

Doubtless  we have here the foundation for one of Revere's later activities - engraved lettering.  Young Paul Revere followed in his father's footsteps as  a Gold and Silversmith.   Specimens of his work are still  treasured to this day in some old New England families, and  give ample evidence of his artistic skill.  Inspired by long experience in embellishing the articles manufactured by him,  Revere undertook the art of engraving on copper, with marked  success.   Books of the 17th and 18th centuries show that this was a popular form of illustrating.

Many of Revere's  pictures were political caricatures and cartoons; and among  the best of his works is an engraving depicting the Boston  Massacre, which was extensively copied in Europe. He also  designed bookplates, and in later years furnished the  engravings from which Masonic certificates were made. The outbreak of the French and Indian Wars in 1756   prompted him to enlist in the British Colonial service.   Commissioned a second lieutenant of artillery by Governor  Sterling, he participated in the expedition against Crown  Point under the command of General John Winslow.  Here he received the military training which enabled him to give  excellent service in later years as major, lieutenant- colonel, and colonel of artillery in the armed forces of  Massachusetts.

Upon his return from military service, Revere was  married in 1757 to Miss Sarah Orne of Boston.  Seven  children were born of this union.  After sixteen years of  wedded life, the faithful wife died, leaving Revere a widower at 38 with a large family on his hands, a business  to look after and political events engrossing his attention.  To quote Revere, he found his household "In sore need of a   Mother," and within a short time after the death of his  first wife and infant child, he married Miss Rachel Walker,  ten years his junior.  Eight children were added to the six  of his first marriage.

The Stamp Act of 1765 was one of the causes of the  American Revolution. This act provided for a tax on certain  articles imported by the colonies. The imposition of this  tax was not so objectionable in itself to the colonists as the fact that they had no voice in the matter.  This right, they felt, belonged to them under the Magna Carta, the  foundation of English Liberty.  The opponents of the act formed themselves into bands known as the Sons of Liberty.   Meetings were conducted with great secrecy, those in Boston being ultimately held at the Green Dragon Tavern.  It is of  more than passing interest to note that St. Andrew's Lodge, many of whose members participated in the stirring events of the Revolution, purchased this tavern March 31,1864.

Among the Massachusetts leaders of the Sons of Liberty were Samuel Adams and John Hancock, to whom Revere attached himself.  Not gifted with speech as were his associates, he nevertheless reached the public through his clever cartoons on political events of the day.  He also carried secret dispatches to the leaders of the Sons of Liberty in New York  and Philadelphia; and his unquestioned integrity and excellent memory served the Colonists well when written word could not be safely conveyed.

In 1766 the Stamp Act was repealed, except as to tea,  and this served to quiet matters somewhat for a time; but  the determination of King George III to force the tea tax  upon his colonists made them all the more determined to  resist the measure.  Cargoes of tea were shipped and landed under protest.  Merchants throughout the colonies agreed not  to handle the commodity, and very little was sold, such as did trickle into the channels of trade being handled by Troy   shopkeepers. The arrival of the Dartmouth on November 28, 1773,  caused the Sons of Liberty to call a mass meeting which was  attended by over seven thousand people.  Resolutions were  passed urging that the tea not be landed, and that it be sent back to England in the same ships.  Guards were placed to make sure that the tea was not brought in  surreptitiously.  Another meeting was called on the 30th, at which the officers of two additional ships which had arrived in the meantime were made to promise that they would leave  the harbor without unloading their tea cargoes.

Governor Hutchinson, however, interfered with this solution of the   problem by forbidding the issuance of clearance papers until  the cargoes should be discharged.  The rest of the story has been recorded in history's pages. A group of patriots, disguised as Mohawk Indians, boarded the vessels, and destroyed three hundred and forty-two chests of tea valued at $90,000.

It has been asserted by many writers that the Freemasons of the colony had a large part in the destruction of the tea cargoes.  Definite information is not available, but contemporaneous records of unimpeachable character lead us to believe that there is some truth in the assertions.  The records of Saint Andrew's Lodge, of which Paul Revere  was a member, show that on the night of November 30th, 1773  - the night for the annual election of officers - only seven  members were present.  No election was held, and the  presence of only seven members given as the reason according to the entries in the lodge minutes.

As a result of the Tea Party, laws were passed in  Parliament closing the port of Boston.  These measures only  served to inflame the people. Revere was soon in the saddle  again, carrying messages to enlist the support of the  southern provinces in behalf of Massachusetts.  The  Massachusetts House of Representatives reorganized under the  name of the "The Provincial Congress" and voted to enroll  twelve thousand Minute Men.  Revere made further trips  south, and in December, 1773, carried news north to
Portsmouth, N.H., that the importation of military stores  had been forbidden by Parliament, and that a large garrison  was coming to occupy Fort William and Mary at the entrance  to the harbor.  The Sons of Liberty thereupon surprised the  fort and removed upwards of one hundred barrels of powder  and fifteen cannon.


Governor Gage of Massachusetts became alarmed at these  aggressive acts of the colonists.  Outlying stores of  gunpowder and arms were called in, and every precaution  taken to guard against further surprises.  The Sons of  Liberty soon learned that the British were preparing for  action.  On April 18, 1775, Dr. Joseph Warren, Grand Master  of Massachusetts, who was to give his life for his country  two months later at the battle of Bunker Hill, learned that  troops were gathering on Boston Common.  Fearing for the  safety of Samuel Adams and John Hancock, Warren sent for  Revere and begged him to go to Lexington to warn these men.  Revere had been to Lexington a few days before, and gravely  doubted the possibility of getting through the lines in  event the enemy should form, had arranged, by a show of  lanterns, to indicate the route taken by the British. Revere then made the ride which has preserved his name to  posterity, as graphically told with certain poetic license  by Longfellow.

Paul Revere's ride, however, was not the end of his  activities in the patriot cause.   After the British had  vacated Boston, being harassed by Washington's troops, it  was found that the cannon had been disabled by the removal  of the carriages.  Revere invented a new type, and the guns were again placed in commission.  In July, 1776, Revere was commissioned an officer in a  new regiment raised for the defense of the town and harbor  of Boston.  His important duties and services ultimately won  him the rank of colonel of artillery.  Adverse conditions made his position a difficult one, but he steadfastly fulfilled his duties and made the best of a bad situation.   In 1779 he participated in a expedition against the British  in what is now Maine. Through mismanagement on the part of  some military and naval commanders, the expedition was a  failure, and the soldiers made their way back to Boston in scattered groups.

In addition to his military service, Revere was called  upon in 1775 to engrave the currency of the Colony of  Massachusetts.  In 1776 he engaged in the manufacture of  gunpowder, sorely needed by the American Forces, and was  employed to oversee the casting of cannon.  The war services of Paul Revere did not conclude his service to the new nation.  He contributed to the economic welfare of his community by establishing an iron foundry, and in 1792 began casting church bells, many of which are  still in existence.  A "Hardware" store - as jeweler's shops were called in those days - established by him in 1783, enabled him to dispose of the silverware which he continued  to manufacture.  He invented a process for treating copper  which enabled him to hammer and roll it while hot, a process of great value in shipbuilding.  In 1800 he established a  foundry for rolling copper in large sheets.  This was such an important industry that the government of the United States loaned him $10,000, to be repaid in the form of sheet  copper.  This was the first copper rolling mill in the  country, and dispensed with the necessity which had existed  before of importing this commodity from England.  Robert Fulton's steam engines were equipped with copper boilers made from Revere's plates.  Revere also covered the bottom of the Frigate "Constitution" - better known as "Old  Ironsides" - with sheet copper.

The business was  incorporated in 1828 as the Revere Copper Company, and is still conducted in Canton, Mass. Revere's life, and the services he rendered to the   country, are sufficient in themselves to endear him to every patriotic American.  Yet, we, as Masons, can claim a still  closer tie.  Paul Revere was made a Mason in Saint Andrew's  Lodge on September 4, 1760, being the first Entered Apprentice to receive that work in this body.  In 1770 he  became its Master; in 1783, when St, Andrew's Lodge was  divided on the question of   remaining under the Grand Lodge  of Scotland, from which body it had received its Charter  dated November 30, 1756; or affiliating with the new Grand  Lodge of Massachusetts, he was one of the twenty-three who  voted to withdraw from the old relationship.  A new lodge  was formed in September, 1784, under the name of Rising  States Lodge, and Revere was elected its Master. 

He made the jewels for this lodge, and engraved and printed certificates of membership and notices.  He served as Grand  Master of Massachusetts from 1795 to 1797, inclusive, assisting Governor Samuel Adams in laying the corner stone of the Massachusetts State House, July 4, 1795, on which  occasion he delivered a stirring address. His charities were quiet and unostentatious.  He  founded the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanics Association  in 1795, and served as its president from its founding until 1799, when de declined any further office, although continuing his interest.  His domestic life was peaceable and happy.  The decease of his second wife in 1815 left him a lonely old man.   Revere himself "Passed Out With the Tide" on May 10, 1818,  and was buried in Granary Burial Ground where his old  friends, Hancock and Adams, had preceded him.  Quiet, unassuming, without great gifts as an orator or  statesman, he nevertheless engraved his name on that which is far more enduring than the metals of his Craft - the pages of his country's history and the hearts of his country's citizens.  Behind him was the martyrdom of his Huguenot ancestors; around him was the inspiration of Freemasonry's ideals; within his vision of the future was a  great representative government of a free people wherein religious liberty should be both a fundamental principle and  an inalienable right.  And so he served with the talent that  he had in the humbler spheres of everyday life as well as in  the greater and more spectacular crisis in the life of his commonwealth.

Unselfish service was his ambition and his  watchword, his biography and his epitaph. Freemasonry and  America honor most the Paul reveres of the nation, who from  day to day, in every time of history and walk of life, thoughtfully and patriotically serve mankind. If, however, we are to come to the fullest possible  realization of what  the life of a man like Paul Revere means  to his country and to his Fraternity, we must go further  than a mere personal estimate.   No matter how effective his  life may be in arousing our pride and stimulating our efforts, we must still take one more step.  It will not do  merely to judge a life like his according to the standards  of this day.  We must realize the results of his work in the  light of the conditions which he faced.

I wonder if we can visualize the Colonial period of  this country's history?   The scattered settlements, the log  cabins grouped about stockades out in the wilderness, the  wide distances separating the towns and villages, and the  uninhabited, waste districts between; the bridle paths over  the mountains, the narrow. almost impassable roads with the lumbering stage coaches passing up and down at irregular and  infrequent intervals; a time when it cost a shilling and  more to carry a letter; a  country without telegraph, without typewriter, without railroad - and a people who could not  even dream of such things as these.

Even so the picture is not complete.  We must picture a  country possessed of very few schools, and what schools that  were open, were open only to the sons of the rich.   Intelligence and idealism were impossible for the poor boy,  except as he learned them at the family altar.  The minds of the common people were on the same low, deadly level which  prevailed among the lower classes of Europe.   Under such circumstances can we not see how the superior mind would   revolt against these sordid conditions?  First would come the passion for liberty, and following that, an intense determination that these conditions must be bettered. Then we are able to recreate the influence of the ancestry of a man like Revere?  Many a long evening was spent around an open fireplace, with perhaps a tallow dip  candle or two burning dimly on the mantle, while the head of the household told of the tragedy of his flight from the persecutions inflicted upon his people. 

What would the  effect of such a recital be upon a youth like Paul Revere?   Can we realize how these traditions would influence his  mind, how his boyish imagination would be kindled and how  his appreciation of the liberty which the Colonists were trying to work out for themselves in the new world would grow into a veritable passion for freedom?  As he grew older he would see the stalwart pioneers around him trying to plant here a  new type of civilization, an institution which  would insure to every man the utmost of personal liberty which he could expect without infringing upon the rights of  others. Can we not see how a youth raised in this atmosphere would be inspired with a desire to promote and  further the development of these institutions? With stories  of murder and oppression of his people firing his youthful imagination, can we not see that as he grew into manhood his  mind would be quickened?  Can we not understand how any  example of oppression, however slight, would arouse the  fighting instincts, and tyrannical injustice become as it  were a baptism of patriotism, dedicated to the new home which his troubled soul was finding in company with his  fellow refugees? We must also realize that an atmosphere very like this   existed all through the colonies.  It was justified, my  brothers; these hardy pioneers had fled the Old World where  free thought, free speech and free Conscience did not exist.  They had come away with hideous memories of their friends and neighbors tortured and hung for the most trivial crimes.

Years of tragedy had taught them the sacrifices that men  make who stand up for what they  believe, for opinion's sake. It is only when we come to appreciate all of this  background that we can understand the fierce resentment in  the hearts of the colonial leaders when tea profiteers  sought to impose their burdens of taxation, or religious  bigots tried to fasten upon the minds of the people narrow ideas the trend of which would be to bring about a union of Church and State.  We must picture Paul Revere as one of the central figures in a great drama like this, staged in a wilderness, with enemies both within and without; if we could appreciate what the service of the colonial pioneer  really was.   To us in our modern day the accomplishment of these fearless men may not loom so large, but in their day  and time they performed wonders when they gave their passion for liberty and brotherhood free reign and started in to establish a government by, for and of the people.

Well may we ask, how could they do it?  What gave them their breadth of vision?  And it is in this primitive setting that we find the answer. The forces of necessity drove them, persecution was behind them and if they did not build their new Temple of Liberty aright, persecution and failure lay before them.  In the face of a need like this, they won; they accomplished great things for humanity.  They  planted the seeds of brotherhood in the fallow ground of a  new homeland and we, who are their posterity are reaping the reward. This it is which places upon us the responsibility for  doing in our day what they did in theirs.  The conditions  which we have to meet are different from theirs.  The  problems which we have to solve under the complex conditions  of modern civilization would look hopeless to them. My Brethren, they would be hopeless to us did we not have their  examples before us and were we not familiar with the  principles which they applied to their problems in those tempestuous days.  We have the same principle, we have the  same Masonic atmosphere of brotherhood and we have an even greater opportunity than they had to put these principles  into practice and make them live among men today.  Ours is the task to maintain the freedom of speech and conscience  which they established for us and to see to it that  Freemasonry, grown now to a fraternity of men far greater in number than all the people who lived in the thirteen  colonies, shall stand foursquare for law and order, for the  right to think and worship as we please, and for the perpetuation of those priceless privileges which the Paul  Reveres of early America wrought out of their needs and the conditions which faced them, because they had the Masonic vision, the Masonic fervency and the Masonic zeal to build  after the Masonic pattern.

 

         

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