Paul Revere Heritage Project



Young Paul Revere was growing up on the streets of Boston’s North End, the neighborhood that was as vibrant back then as it is now. The area where rich elegance mixed with noisy street crowd was aloso home to artisans and craftsmen like Paul Revere’s father. Among those who grew in the same neighborhood were the Who Is Who of American Revolution. Sam Adams was the older of the pack and was already studying in Harvard. John Adams, Joseph Warren, Josiah Quincy, John Hancock all grew up in North End. Thomas Hutchinson, the future royal governor of Massachusetts from 1771 to 1774 and a prominent Loyalist, lived in a mansion literally next door to Revere’s home. He later became one of the bitterest enemies of the Revolution, but at the same time was described by John Adams as a “very good gentleman”.

To better understand education that Paul Revere manage to receive it will be useful to quickly describe how Boston’s school system operated at that time. It commonly started with primitive infant schools ran by dames where children were taught not much reading or writing but mostly “manners”. Learning their ABC’s was the end of schooling for many kids. Those who advanced further attended one of the five public schools that existed by donation of the Governor. Private schools were even fewer. Just over 500 students attended such schools, both public and private. The schools were divided into Latin (or grammar) schools that provided higher quality education and into Writing schools, mostly for those students whose aspiration were to become tradesmen. Among those sent to the North Writing school was the young Paul whose father probably planned him to continue tradition of silversmith trade.

Revere attended the North Boston Writing between the ages of 7 and 13. Not counting Latin schools, North Boston was know to be one of the two best schools, so the young Paul was able to read books on chemistry, the subject that was related to his profession and could write clearly and with less grammar and spelling errors than his peers. Later in life Revere undoubtedly felt undereducated in the company of Samuel Adams and John Hancock who went to Harvard and when he had a change he sent his own sons to Latin schools.

Revere’s family attended the New Brick church that was also called the Cockerel Church because of the rooster figure mounted on the roof spire. The young Revere however found a job as a bell ringer in a different church called Christ Church, also known as the Old North Church. It was on the steeple of this church the famous "One if by Land, Two if by Sea” lantern was placed during the famous Midnight Ride many years later. The church had what was called a “royal peal” of eight bells that still ring today and are considered one of the best sounding bells in America. The church’s museum holds the original contract signed by Revere and five other boys to ring the bells for two hours three times a week. In this document they call themselves a “society”. This tradition has been carried into our days by the MIT Guild of Bellringers.

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