The Story Of America’s First Celebrity: Richard Potter

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Welcome to The Story of America’s First Celebrity: Richard Potter, #Story #America #Celebrity #Richard #Potter 50Mind S BlogHere is the latest breaking news and trending broadcast for you today: :

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Potter was indeed very talented at tightrope dancing – good enough to attract the attention of other Londoners in 1801. Quoting one newspaper about Potter’s tightrope performance:

He balances, while on a wire, 100 full wine glasses; He will go seven times on a small hope, and what is more amazing, he balances seven ordinary chairs at the same time … He balances on his face an ordinary wine glass, on the edge of which is a small sword. He throws oranges and eggs, while on a wire, plays the violin and goes to his knees.

Potter and a more experienced tightrope dancer named Signor Manfredi toured France and England, performed in Paris during the 1802–1803 Peace of Amiens, and then went to America. Potter eventually worked and trained with John Ranney, one of a pair of Scottish ventriloquist-magicians, and then worked and trained with Charles Durang, John Durang’s eldest son. (Spending his youth being trained by masters in various fields – Richard Potter sounds like Batman).

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Potter married Sally Harris, an independent woman, in 1808. In some ways, he was a dream for him: she was beautiful and came from a good independent family. He was not yet famous as an artist. But he knew people—important people—and he made sure that the marriage was mentioned in several Boston newspaper matrimonial notices, an identification almost unheard of for blacks in the city at the time, perhaps unprecedented.

Boston, at this time, was a center of protest and reform activity affecting blacks, especially the anti-slavery movement. Potter never played a public role in the movement, partly because he moved so often, partly because he was a private, reserved man in personality, and partly because he did not want to alienate any of his potential audiences. But Potter was a member of Boston’s African Lodge, which eventually became known as Prince Hall Grand Lodge, America’s first black Masonic lodge. Lodge members were prominent members of the black community in Boston. Potter marriage newspaper notices may be favors done by men for a junior member.

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