Who Made the First Clock in the American Colonies?
There is much dispute over who made the first clock in the American colonies. Mathematician and astronomer Benjamin Banneker built a wooden clock in 1753 that the Brookhaven National Laboratory, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science, calls "famous as the first clock built in the New World." However, Banneker's biographer, Silvio Bedini, claims that this is a myth. Other accounts credit Abel Cottey, the first of the "Six Quaker Clockmakers" featured in the book of the same name, with building the first American-made clock in 1709.
1 Supporting Evidence
Abel Cottey was a clockmaker who lived from 1655 to 1711. One surviving clock ascribed to him is marked "Abel Cottey, Philadelphia" and bears the date 1709. Cottey went on to apprentice Benjamin Chandlee, Sr., a famous Quaker clockmaker, as well as his son and three of his grandsons. These were the "six clockmakers" of the book title. Quaker Peter Stretch was also said to have made clocks after arriving in Philadelphia in 1703. However, the Washington Interdependence Council and research librarian Mitchell C. Brown of the University of California at Irvine both make the distinction that Banneker built the first striking clock made completely in the colonies and out of American parts. Banneker also attended a Quaker school for a short time.
- 1 Biography: Benjamin Banneker
- 2 PBS: People & Events: Benjamin Banneker: 1731-1806
- 3 The State University Of New York At Buffalo: Mathematicians Of The African Diaspora: Benjamin Banneker
- 4 Brookhaven National Laboratory: Benjamin Banneker (1731-1806)
- 5 Professional Surveyor Magazine: Feature: On Goldsmith Chandlee
- 6 Six Quaker Clockmakers; Edward E. Chandlee
- 7 University Of California at Irvine: Benjamin Banneker
- 8 The Life Of Benjamin Banneker; Silvio A. Bedini