“My expense for self and horse during that time.” After his fabled ride, Paul Revere wrote a bill asking to be compensated for his time and expenses. 

After completing his fabled April 18, 1775, Midnight Ride, Paul Revere wrote a bill for his services and expenses. He requested 11 pounds and 1 shilling in exchange for his “riding for the Committee of Safety . . . my expense for self and horse during that time . . . keeping two Colony horses 10 days as if my horse . . . [and for] printing 1,000 impressions.” In today’s currency, Paul Revere’s bill would have totaled to about $1,700.

Revere's Bill Side One

(Photograph Courtesy of the Massachusetts Archives)

Revere's Bill Side Two

Samuel Adams and Joseph Warren’s April 22nd response to Revere’s bill is also at the Massachusetts archive. They wrote, “Resolved that Mr. Paul Revere be allowed and paid out of the public treasury of this colony 10 pounds, 4 shillings in full.” Despite this gracious reply, Adams and Warren paid Revere a pound less than he requested.

Midnight RideUnlike in Longfellow’s poem, two others, Charles Dawes and Samuel Prescott, rode with Revere to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock that they were in danger of being captured and to spread word of the British plan to attack the Concord magazine. Of the three, only Prescott successfully arrived to warn the Concord militia of the British soldiers’ movements. Dawes lost his way after falling off his horse, and Revere was detained by the British at Lexington.

Boston_MassacreIn his own time, Revere was best known for his success in propaganda and business. He printed sensationalized plates of both the British troops landing in Boston in 1768 and the Boston Massacre in 1770. In Revere’s hands, the ships were the symbols of tyranny bearing down against a pure Boston, and the Boston Massacre was not a confused response to a jeering crowd, but instead an ordered and bloody attack on defenseless Bostonians. In 1774, he expanded his patriot activities to include spying. He organized a group called the “Mechanics” and sometimes referred to as the “Liberty Boys” to watch the British soldiers. According to the CIA, Revere’s spy ring was the first recorded patriot intelligence network.

Revere’s business life was, if anything, more varied than his patriot activities. Revere was by trade a goldsmith, but in colonial America, a goldsmith’s duties were more diverse than a modern reader may suppose. When Joseph Warren was killed in battle, Revere was able to identify his body from the set of dentures that he had crafted and installed. Who knows why Longfellow chose to write about Paul Revere on his midnight ride. It was probably not because of Paul Revere’s experience examining corpses’ dental work!

Learn more:

Massachusetts Archive Collection, 164:3, Paul Revere’s Bill for Riding for the Committee of Safety, 22 August 1775. SC1/series 45X. Massachusetts Archives. Boston, Massachusetts.

Paul Revere’s Ride by David Hackett Fischer

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