Joseph Warren Revere

Paul Revere was a very prolific man, not only in the amount of goods he produced, but also in the amount of children he fathered. Revere had eight children with his first wife Sarah, and then another eight with second wife Rachel. Sadly, of these sixteen children, only five outlived him – one daughter from Sarah, and two daughters and two sons from Rachel. Paul Revere’s oldest surviving son and the inheritor of all his businesses was Joseph Warren Revere.

Joseph was born April 30th, 1777, the third child of Paul and Rachel. At the time of his son’s birth Paul Revere was stationed out in Boston Harbor, manning the fort on Castle Island. By the age of twelve Joseph was already learning multiple of his father’s trades, spending time at the foundry as well as apprenticing as a silversmith. By the turn of the century Joseph had abandoned silver to focus his efforts on making bells; he opened his own business in 1801. It is estimated that between Paul and Joseph over 400 bells were manufactured, the majority being large (over 300 lbs.) bells meant for churches.

In 1804 Joseph Warren Revere, now 27 and officially the junior partner in all his father’s businesses, took a “sight-seeing” trip to Europe. Although he did take in the sights (and purchased fancy European hats for his mother and sister) the real reason for his travels was a more clandestine one. Paul Revere had won a contract with the US Navy to produce copper sheeting that would protect the hulls of the USS Constitution and the other ships of the Navy fleet. However, the intricacies of rolling sheet copper were closely guarded trade secrets held by only a few European manufacturers. Posing as a potential investor, Joseph toured factories in England, France, Denmark, The Netherlands, and Sweden. Joseph, being very astute and having a photographic memory, was able to draw up detailed schematics of all the processes and machinery he had seen. With this knowledge the Reveres were able to open the first copper rolling mill in the Americas. This in generally considered the first example of industrial espionage in United States history.

With the mill firmly established in Canton, MA other aspects of the family businesses gradually moved to the site as well. Likewise, Joseph took over more and more of the operation until his father’s retirement in 1811. Now the president of the Revere Copper Company, Joseph sought to expand the business. Records show that by 1828 the company employed 20 men; in 1845 it was 38, and by the 1860s they employed over 100 workers. At some point in the 1850s Joseph replaced the wooden mill his father had built with the stone structure that still stands today (also building the draft horse barn that will house the future museum).

Always forward thinking, Joseph recognized the railroads’ potential to revolutionize the way people and goods moved throughout the country. With his influence, and a considerable donation, Revere joined the board of the newly founded Boston Providence Railroad. There he convinced the company to run the Boston-Providence line through Canton, even though other possible routes would have been easier to build. The line was finished in 1835 after the completion of the nearby Canton Viaduct. One of the first spurs off of the line went straight into the yard of the Revere Copper Company, allowing for the direct unloading and loading of raw materials and finished goods, vastly improving the speed and quality of production.

Even while running an expanding company Joseph found time for both public service and for family. He served in the Massachusetts Legislature on three separate occasions and sat on the Boston Board of Alderman through much of the 1830s. He was on the board of both the Massachusetts Humane Society and The Massachusetts Charitable Mechanics Association (and organization his father had helped found). On April 16th, 1821 he married Mary Robbins, the daughter of a former Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor. Mary and Joseph had eight children. Joseph Warren Revere died on October 11th, 1868 at the age of 91, leaving the Revere Copper Company to his oldest son John Revere.

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