Hey guys! Did all of you have a spectacular Independence Day in the states?!? Being that this last weekend was a celebration of our nation’s independence as a new nation by the signing of our cherished Declaration of Independence in 1776. I wanted to briefly talk about our nation’s first born magician!
Born in Massachusetts in 1783, Richard Potter, the son of an English tax collector (his father) and an African serving maid (his mother), lived a relatively difficult life, considering the time in history he lived, since the emancipation proclamation wasn’t in effect until 1863. However, after his education in Europe, becoming inspired by Scottish magician John Rannie, then becoming his apprentice, he finally started out on his own for a successful twenty five year career as a professional magician, ventriloquist, and hypnotist.
In 1811, Mr. Potter not only had become America’s first successful stage magician, he was also the very first noted African-American magician in the world! His skill was far from rudimentary in today’s modern performance standards. One of Potter’s many famous illusions was where he climbed a rope surrounded by spectators and then vanished leaving only the fallen rope and a blanket.
One of the performance stretches he was on, just to give you an example of his success as a magician, was when he was performing in Alabama some time in the early 1800’s, where he made $4800 on a 20 day stage run engagement. To give you an example on how much that is, in comparison to today’s common full time magician, a standard 20 day engagement today would give a $2,191 profit subtracted from stage hand wages and prop fees.
In 1813 Potter’s success afforded him the luxury of purchasing 175 acre farm in Andover NH now inside a community that has adopted his name as, Potter Place. Twenty two years later, Mr. Potter past away, leaving his wife Sally and son Richard who followed in his father’s footsteps as a magician.
Mr. Potter has been a hero to millions of people and magicians through the centuries, including world famous magician, Harry Houdini, who talked at length about Mr. Potter in his magazine of magic. Mr. Potter will never be forgotten, for he is constantly inspiring new and hopeful magicians to this very day.
“The legacy you leave to the people you cared about in your life, is worth far more than the things you have owned.”