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The Paul Revere House May 30, 2010

Posted by flashbuzzer in History.
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I recently visited the Paul Revere House in Boston. Over a 200-year period, this house had many inhabitants, but its most famous resident is still Paul Revere.

Here are five nuggets that I gleaned from my time at this museum.

1. Revere primarily worked as a goldsmith; his father was also a goldsmith and undoubtedly guided his career path. Revere did need to supplement his income by performing tasks such as creating copper engravings to commemorate special events and freelancing as a dentist; it was alleged that he had prepared George Washington’s dentures, though this is probably untrue. After the Revolutionary War, he started a foundry that cast bells and cannon.

2. Middle-class colonial-era homes were relatively limited in terms of space, so it was typical for a room to serve various functions. For example, the main bedroom of the Revere residence doubled as a reception room for guests. The first-floor parlor also served as a dining room and a workshop. As far as I could tell, though, the kitchen of the Revere House only served gustatory-related purposes.

3. In terms of his Revolutionary War exploits, Revere is most famous for his “Ride” on the night of April 18, 1775 that helped prepare the Massachusetts colonial militia for the British advance on Lexington and Concord. Interestingly, Revere actually fought in the Revolutionary War and took part in the ill-fated Penobscot Expedition. He was later discharged and accused of cowardice and insubordination; eventually he was cleared of these charges following a court-martial.

4. One of Revere’s daughters, Deborah, married Amos Lincoln. After her passing, Amos married another of Revere’s daughters, Elizabeth. Yet another of Revere’s daughters, Mary, married Amos’ brother, Jedidiah Lincoln. It turns out that Amos and Jedidiah were ancestors of our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln. It also turns out that one of Revere’s descendants, Joseph Revere, fought for the Union in the Civil War and was court-martialed after surprisingly withdrawing his troops during the Battle of Chancellorsville. At that time, President Lincoln stepped in and overturned the verdict against Joseph Revere.

5. One of the driving forces behind the restoration of the Revere House was the poem Paul Revere’s Ride by the esteemed poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Though the poem contained several inaccuracies, such as stating that lanterns were hung in the Old North Church as signals to Revere himself, Revere’s popularity received a major boost from its publication. Longfellow wrote the poem in 1860, just before the onset of the Civil War; he wanted to “sound the alarm” to his fellow countrymen, urging them to battle against the forces of slavery and take up arms in pursuit of a just cause.

I enjoyed seeing various colonial-era items in the Revere House, including authentic dressers and chairs of both British and American design. It was also neat to see various children posing questions to the museum staff; they showed a marked enthusiasm for American history, which brought back some pleasant memories.

In terms of drawbacks, the Revere House was a bit cramped, which made exhibit browsing more difficult than I had expected.

Overall I enjoyed my short stay at the museum; it was good to see how the middle class lived during the colonial era.

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