Modern history


art Paul Revere’s Revolutionary Rides: Research by Michael Kalin


SOURCES: On Revere’s ride after the Tea Party, Boston diarist John Boyle noted, “Mr. Paul Revere was immediately dispatched express to New-York and Philadelphia with the glorious intelligence,” (“Boyle’s Journal of Occurrences in Boston,” Dec. 16, 1773,NEHGR 84 (1930): 371). He did not actually depart until Dec. 17. Ten days later, Boyle wrote, “Mr. Paul Revere returned from New-York and Philadelphia, performing his journey in a much shorter time than could be expected at this season of the year” (Dec. 27, 1773, ibid., 372). Other documentation is in the diary of Thomas Newell, MHS; and the papers of Samuel Adams, NYPL.

The ride with news of the Boston Port Act is documented in Thomas Young to John Lamb, 1774, Lamb Papers, NYHS; Boston Committee of Correspondence to Philadelphia Committee, May 13, 1774, Cushing ed., Writings of Samuel Adams, II, 109-11; theEssex Gazette, May 30, 1774, noted Revere’s return “on Saturday last [May 28].” Paul Revere’s receipt for reimbursement, dated May 28, 1774, “for a journey to King’s Bridge, New York, 234 miles,” is in the Revere Family Papers, MHS.

The journey to New York in the Summer of 1774 “for calling a Congress is referred to in Paul Revere’s letter to Jeremy Belknap, 1798. He appears to have traveled by sulky; see Paul Revere to John Lamb, Sept. 4, 1774, thanking “Capt. Sears, for his kind care of my horse and sulky,” in Lamb Papers, NYHS.

The trip to the Continental Congress on Sept. 11, 1774, with the Suffolk Resolves is noted in Samuel Adams to Charles Chauncy, Sept. 19, 1774: “last Friday [Sept. 16] Mr. Revere brought us the spirited and patriotick resolves of your county of Suffolk.” Cushing (ed), Writing of Samuel Adams, III, 155. He left Philadelphia on Sept. 18, when Adams noted in his diary, “Wrote many letters to go by Mr. Revere.” William Tudor in Boston noted that Revere was back in Boston “late on Friday evening [Sept. 23]. William Tudor to John Adams, Sept. 17, 26, 1774, Taylor (ed.), Papers of John Adams, II, 166, 174.

Revere departed again for Philadelphia on Sept. 29, 1774. John Adams wrote to his wife on Oct. 7, 1774, “Mr Revere will bring you the doings of the Congress, who are now all around me…” and to William Tudor, on the same day, “I have just time to thank you for your letters by Mr. Revere” (ibid., 187). Revere left Philadelphia about Oct. 11, and was back in Boston before Oct. 19, with the resolves of the Congress (John Andrews to William Barrell, Oct. 19, 1774, Goss, Revere, I, 169).

On the ride to the New Hampshire Congress, see John Wentworth to T. W. Waldron, Jan. 27, 1775, MHSC IV (1891). The journey to Portsmouth, N.H., is documented on p. 381 below; the three trips to Concord and Lexington, on pp. 385 and 386, above.

The “out of doors work” for the Committee of Safety is documented in Revere’s letter to Belknap (1798), and in a bill and receipt for expenses in the Massachusetts Archives, Boston. See also p. 268 above.

The munitions mission is in Robert Morris and John Dickinson to Oswell Eve, Nov. 21, 1775, Smith (ed.), Letters of Delegates to Congress. Revere’s pass, signed by James Otis and dated November 12, 1775, is in the PRMA, and reproduced in Zannieri, Leehey,et al., Paul Revere, 178.

Forbes mistakenly asserts (and Weisberger and others repeat after her) that Revere made his first ride on Nov. 30, 1773. “It was decided that neighboring seaports should be warned that the tea ships might try to unload at their wharves. Paul Revere and five other men were chosen to ride express (Forbes, Revere, 190). In this she is inaccurate. A meeting at Old South voted that six persons “who are used to horses be in readiness to give an alarm in the country towns, where necessary.” They were William Rogers, Jeremiah Belknap, Stephen Hall, Nathaniel Cobbett and Thomas Gooding of Boston, and Benjamin Wood of Charlestown. See Drake, Tea Leaves, xlv.

Forbes also has Revere riding back to Boston after the battle of April 19, 1775. This too is unsupported by evidence.

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