If you lived in the United States during the early 1800’s you might have said yes to the above question. The first “famous” magician born in the US was a man named Richard Potter.
Potter was born in the late 1700’s in Hopkinton, MA; the grandson of a Sir Charles Frankland, British collector for the Port of Boston.Evidence suggests that Potter was the child of a freed slave named Dinah, and of Sir Charles’ son.
After leaving school at the age of 10, he set sail for England as a cabin boy aboard a ship captained by John Skinner. It was upon his arrival in England that he began performing as a circus artist.
Around 1801, Potter served as an assistant to “Rannie the Scot” whose real name was John Rannie, a Scottish touring Magician and Ventriloquist.Potter traveled with Rannie’s troup thoughout England, and then back to the US. Then, during the next ten years, Potter launched his own touring show.
By 1817, admission to Potter’s show had increased from 25 cents to 1 dollar and his renown across the US was unparalleled.
When he retired Potter built himself an a giant home in Andover, New Hampshire, which became known as, “Potter’s Mansion”. In fact, to this day, the entire region of Andover is known as, “Potter’s Place”.
A well kept secret, the story of Richard Potter is a fascinating one. He was a pioneering magician in his day, and a person well worth know about for those of us who benefited from his hard work in the field.