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The Ship Paul Revere

Sylvanus Smith, a suffragist featured in my book along with his suffragist wife Judith, was a shipbuilder. His firm, Smith & Townsend of East Boston, built the clipper ship Paul Revere, launched from East Boston in 1876.

A painting of the Paul Revere was in the Smith family until the 1980s, according to a descendant, and then acquired by the Massachusetts Historical Society. It is now in their holdings. It is a fine painting. It shows a column of six sails on the center mast. That seems like a lot, since other clipper ships had five (like Smith's Centennial) or four.

A Chinese oil painting (right) shows the six sails. A watercolor purporting to be of the ship shows only four sails on the center mast. It's a fine painting, but do you think it is the same ship?

The Paul Revere was listed on the government's annual list of merchant vessels, with home port in New York City, but it then vanished from those lists by 1906. What happened to it?

Photos from Australia show a ship named the Paul Revere. One photo shows a three-masted ship with the central mast having spars that could hold five sails, and maybe an additional spar. Another photo shows a two-masted ship where the center has what looks like a stack or funnel, implying it was converted to steam power. Was that the destiny of the clipper ship Paul Revere?

The ship's voyages were long and dangerous. For example, its first voyage from Boston to San Francisco took about 4 1/2 months (Oct. 2 to Feb. 17), according to news reports. They would have had to sail around dangerous Cape Horn at the southern tip of South America. Other voyages took the ship to Kobe (Japan), Shanghai, Manila, and Bombay.


Voyages were reported in the Boston Globe, as shown by examples below, from top:  Feb. 27, 1891; July 17, 1898; and Dec. 30, 1901.

A friendly race in 1889 is reported below, right, from The Superior Times (Superior, WI), May 4, 1889, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, Library of Congress,

Painting of ship Paul Revere, China arti
Ship Paul Revere, watercolor, Skinner, s
Ship Paul Revere, photo, Australia, wiki
Ship Paul Revere, photo (alt), Australia

Images above (top to bottom): [William Pierce Stubbs (1842-1909), Paul Revere, Massachusetts Historical Society - deleted]; Chinese oil painting, The American clipper ship "Paul Revere," Artnet; unidentified painter (watercolor), Paul Revere, Skinner; Paul Revere, two photos, Wikipedia/John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Australia

Paul Revere, 1889, LOC.PNG
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