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Midnight Ride, Industrial Dawn

, 432 pages

19 b&w illus., 14 halftones, 1 line drawing

September 2010



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Midnight Ride, Industrial Dawn

Paul Revere and the Growth of American Enterprise

Paul Revere's ride to warn the colonial militia of the British march on Lexington and Concord is a legendary contribution to the American Revolution. Midnight Ride, Industrial Dawn reveals another side of this American hero's life, that of a transformational entrepreneur instrumental in the industrial revolution.

Robert Martello combines a biographical examination of Revere with a probing study of the new nation’s business and technological climate. A silversmith prior to the Revolution and heralded for his patriotism during the war, Revere aspired to higher social status within the fledgling United States. To that end, he shifted away from artisan silversmithing toward larger, more involved manufacturing ventures such as ironworking, bronze casting, and copper sheet rolling. Drawing extensively on the Revere Family Papers, Martello explores Revere’s vibrant career successes and failures, social networks, business practices, and the groundbreaking metallurgical technologies he developed and employed. Revere’s commercial ventures epitomized what Martello terms proto-industrialization, a transitional state between craft work and mass manufacture that characterizes the broader, fast-changing landscape of the American economy. Martello uses Revere as a lens to view the social, economic, and technological milieu of early America while demonstrating Revere’s pivotal role in both the American Revolution and the rise of industrial America.

Original and well told, this account argues that the greatest patriotic contribution of America's Midnight Rider was his work in helping the nation develop from a craft to an industrial economy.

Robert Martello is an associate professor of the history of science and technology at the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering.

"A path-breaking, very fine work of history. Martello spells out a theory of proto-industrialization that I believe will become incorporated into the work of American economic history and fills an important space in our understanding of America's transition to industrialization."

"Martello succeeds superbly in using Paul Revere as a lens to view the social, economic, and technological landscape of early America... Revere's adept transitions are matched only by Martello's adept retelling of them. Highly recommended."

"Revere sensed that he was living in a time of unprecedented opportunity, and unlike some contemporaries who returned to small shops, he moved quickly from artisan to manager, from craftsman to industrialist. As Martello demonstrates in this fascinating study, the transition was not easy."

"Martello's account of Revere's life is a welcome addition to the literature on American industry and on the founding fathers."

"Engagingly written."

"Martello's fine study is enriched by his attention to the raw materials, labor practices and customs, capital requirements, and technological dimensions that framed each of Revere's ventures."

"He provides a deft discussion of technological transfer and shows how imitation and innovation were inextricably connected."

"[An] important new study."

"[A]finely crafted book that succeeds on several levels...nuanced, and technologically thorough"

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