Paul Revere was the son of a Frenchman?

               Happy 4th of July!             

Statue commemorating Revere's midnight ride on April 18, 1775 

Most Americans know about Paul Revere's famous ride from Charlestown to Lexington, Massachusetts to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock that British troops were marching to arrest them, but what you may not know is that Revere was the son of Appollos Rivoire, a French Huguenot.  Just as my father's Norwegian ancestors changed their surnames after immigrating to the United States, Rivoire opted for a new name in a new land.

Painting of Paul Revere at the MFA, Boston

Peter Faneuil, who donated Faneuil Hall to the city of Boston, was the son of another Huguenot who fled France after King Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes that had allowed Huguenots to practice their religion without persecution.  Prior to learning that Faneuil was of French descent, I had, nonetheless, been pronouncing his name the French way until a native of Boston told me that the correct pronunciation is the more anglicized ˈfænəl. Oops!

And if you would have been in Boston during the Revolution, you would have wanted to know which object is on the weather vane that is perched atop Faneuil Hall because that's the question that was used to test those people suspected of being British spies. The correct answer, "grasshopper", would have earned your freedom, while any other response would have meant that you were a spy.

Happy Independence Day - even though we hail from many lands, we're all Americans!  A parade, fireworks, and watermelon are on the program for today.

Faneuil Hall in Boston, Massachusetts

Comments

  1. Fascinating. I missed this fact during research I did for a recent project about the the Freedom Trail, in which PR was a major player. Thanks for pointing it out.

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