REVERE, Paul (1735-1818), patriot. Engraved treasury note for 20 Shillings at 6 for the Colony of Massachusetts-Bay, signed by Henry Gardner, Receiver General, and at bottom left by Col. Jedidiah Foster. n.p. [Boston], 25 May 1775 [redeemable 25 May 1776].
1 page, oblong (3¼ x 6½ in.) irregular, left-hand margin cut in scallop pattern (deliberately bisecting engraved portion at extreme left, to prevent forgery), engraved in an assortment of decorative italic, roman and Gothic types, bold heading "Colony of the Massachusetts Bay, the note number ("72") accomplished in ink at top right, insignificant repair to blank verso, otherwise in very good condition. Brigham, Paul Revere's Engravings, plate 74 (smaller denominations).
A RARE MASSACHUSETTS REVOLUTIONARY NOTE ENGRAVED BY PAUL REVERE, ISSUED A MONTH AFTER THE LEXINGTON AND CONCORD ALARMS
A fine example of Massachusetts Treasury notes printed by Revere for the Provincial Congress during the eventful Spring of 1775. It was part of an emission authorized by the Provincial Congress for the express purpose of furnishing advance pay to soldiers who had enlisted for the immediate defense of the beleagured Colony, confronted by the blockade of Boston and its occupation by the British Army. On May 20, 1775, the Provincial Congress, convened outside Boston, voted to enlist 30,000 militiamen, each to be paid 20 shillings advance pay, or, alternatively, 40 shillings in three notes at 6 interest payable a year after the date of the notes. It also named a committee, consisting of Col. Jedidiah Foster (signer of this note), Dr. Samuel Holton and Major Eleazar Brooks, to "confer with Mr. Revere." According to its records, the Colony ordered from Revere notes totalling £26,000 in denominations ranging from 6 to 20 shillings; exactly 4333 of each denomination were to be produced. In spite of the relatively large size of the issue, these notes are quite rarely encountered, and its low number may indicate that only a small number of this, the highest denomination, were emitted (for further details, see Brigham, pp.213-218).
The note reads as follows: "The possessor of this Note shall be Intitled to receive out of the publick Treasury of this Colony the sum of Twenty shillings lawfull Money" on 25 May 1776, "with interest at the rate of Six [ per Annum; and this Note shall be received in all payments at the Treasury at any time after the date hereof for the principal sum without interest if so paid before" 25 May 1776.
The strident political relations between Massachusetts and the English crown worsened rapidly in the aftermath of the bloodshed at Lexington and Concord. Ironically, the date the notes were issued, May 25, 1775, was the same day that the British vessel carrying Generals Burgoyne, Henry Clinton and William Howe arrived in Boston Harbor. In June 1775, General Gage declared martial law in Massachusetts and, a few weeks later, a force of American militiamen (some of whom had probably received copies of this note upon their enlistment) seized the heights of Breed's and Bunker Hill, precipitating another bloody pitched battle in what would become a war of eight year's duration.