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Revere’s Expense Account Revealed

December 2, 1999

BOSTON (AP) _ Paul Revere asked the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to pony up 5 shillings a day to compensate for his several weeks in the saddle working to enlist recruits to fight the British.

The provisional Massachusetts government agreed to pay 4 shillings instead after patriots such as Sam Adams, John Adams and James Otis signed off on Revere’s expense account, according to documents in the state archives.

In the document, a yellowed half-slip of paper, Revere billed the commonwealth for the period from April 21, 1775, to May 7, 1775, a span that began three days after his fabled midnight journey.

Five shillings a day would be a normal working man’s salary, said Patrick Leehey, research director at the Paul Revere House.

``Even a Revolutionary horse needs to be fed, not to mention Paul Revere himself,″ said Secretary of State William Galvin.

Brandeis Professor David Hackett Fischer, author of ``Paul Revere’s Ride,″ said Revere struggled to keep his silversmith business afloat and children fed while devoting time to the American Revolution.

``There was a feeling that the entire community should share in the costs of these endeavors,″ Fischer told The Boston Globe.

During the period covered by the document, Revere probably was spending his time riding from town to town to raise a Revolutionary army by carrying a letter calling for enlistment, Fischer said.

Historians haven’t located an expense account specifically referring to Revere’s famous April 18, 1775, ride to warn revolutionaries in Lexington and Concord of British plans to quash rebel colonists.

Galvin has for years been trying to raise the money to exhibit Revere’s expense account and other historic documents, which because of their age would need special display cases. Just like Revere’s request for 5 shillings a day, his requests have been reduced.

``The Legislature has been reducing requests (for funds) for hundreds of years, and we can prove that,″ Galvin said. ``The more things change, the more they stay the same.″

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