18th of April
‘Twas the 18th of April in ’75, hardly a man is now alive who remembers that famous day and year. (Longfellow; 1861)
Well, if you grew up in the Boston area, you probably are well aware that Paul Revere began his famous ride through the countryside to warn that the British were coming on the night of April 18th, 1775. Of course, at this point in time, critics say that William Dawes was the one to complete the ride and that Revere is famous only because of the Longfellow poem, “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.” But I grew up in the time before every historical figure or fact was questioned, and I honestly felt I knew Paul Revere personally.
My mother worked as what today is called a docent in the Paul Revere House in Boston from 1917 – 1945, and my father worked as caretaker and docent from 1933 to the day before he died in 1962. The house is the one in which Paul Revere lived at the time of his famous ride, and it is the oldest frame building still standing in Boston, having been built in 1680.
So is it any wonder that from an early age I could tell you that Paul’s father was a Huguenot named Apollos Rivoire who came here to escape religious persecution? …that Paul Revere was married twice (Sarah Orne and Rachel Walker) and fathered 8 children by each wife? …that not only was he a messenger but a gifted silversmith whose work is in museums today? …that he made George Washington’s false teeth (a fact now not substantiated) …that he was also a coppersmith and cast the copper sheathing for the USS Constitution (Old Ironsides) and the Massachusetts State House…that he produced an etching of the Boston Massacre (this engraving recently discredited)?…that he taught himself the craft of bell-making and created hundreds of bells for churches throughout the area…that he was a political activist who was a member of the Sons of Liberty and friends with Sam Adams and John Hancock?
So I might not have been alive to remember first-hand the events of April 18, 1775, but I will always remember Paul Revere and his many accomplishments.
© Dorothy C. Judd
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