Weston Historical Society Spring Lecture
In this 1768 portrait by John Singleton Copley, Paul Revere is holding a silver teapot. Revere was a prominent Boston silversmith before the outbreak of the American Revolution.
“Listen my children and you shall hear of the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.”
Americans rightfully celebrate Paul Revere’s patriotic service during the American Revolution, but in this talk we will explore how his greatest role in building the new nation took place in workshops and manufactories, via a lifetime of groundbreaking metal work. Revere’s artisan training in the silversmith trade positioned him for new fields such as iron casting, bronze bell and cannon making, and eventually he became the first American to roll copper into sheets for the young United States Navy. Throughout these endeavors Revere pioneered innovative technical and entrepreneurial practices that enabled America to close the technological gap with England, advance its economic strength, and transition into the industrial age.
Dr. Robert Martello is a Professor of the History of Science and Technology at Olin College of Engineering. Professor Martello teaches innovative interdisciplinary courses such as “Six Microbes that Changed the World.” A graduate of MIT’s program in the History and Social Study of Science and Technology, he is the author of Midnight Ride, Industrial Dawn: Paul Revere and the Growth of American Enterprise, a study of how Paul Revere’s manufacturing career impacted America’s transition into the industrial age. Professor Martello is currently researching Benjamin Franklin's printing and business endeavors, and he regularly lectures on Revere and Franklin, our “Founding Makers.”
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Olin College of Engineering professor Robert Martello is author of Midnight Ride, Industrial Dawn: Paul Revere and the Growth of American Enterprise.
Weston’s Paul Revere Bell
Did you know that First Parish Church in Weston has a Paul Revere bell? Weighing in at 997 pounds, it was purchased in 1800 when the 1721 church building was being repaired and enlarged with two porches and a steeple. The congregation raised the $443.12 by subscription. An earlier bell, which weighed only 164 pounds, was probably brought down from Canada during the French and Indian wars, according to the History of the Town of Weston. Author Daniel Lamson speculated that it had come from a chapel or convent. Revere paid the congregation $72.88 for the old bell. The Revere bell was moved to the 1840 church building and later to the 1888 fieldstone church, where it still rings today.
Revere has been called “one of the few competent bell makers in the United States.” He got into the business in 1792 when the bell at his own church cracked. Revere offered to recast it, though he knew nothing about molding and casting bells. His first attempt was not a success (producing a pleasant-sounding bell is not easy!). Revere and his sons Paul, Jr., and Joseph Warren went on to cast 398 bells between 1792 and 1828, first at their North End foundry and after 1804 in Canton, Mass.
Researchers Edward and Evelyn Stickney located 134 Revere bells as of 1976, most in Massachusetts and elsewhere in New England, but also in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, and Virginia. The only Revere bell outside of the United States is in Singapore, according to the New England Historical Society website.
The bell in the First Parish steeple is marked “Revere and Sons Boston 1801”. It rings automatically every hour and can be rung by hand by pulling a long rope.