CLOCKS, WATCHES, AND TIMEKEEPING
DURING THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF WATCH AND CLOCK COLLECTORS
WARD FRANCILLON TIME SYMPOSIUM
OCTOBER 1-3, 2020
MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
101 South 3rd Street
Timekeeping and the American Revolution
“Chester, twelve o’clock at Night, 11 September, 1777 — I am sorry to inform you, that, in this day’s engagement, we have been obliged to leave the enemy masters of the field…” George Washington to President of Congress.
“Horology 1776” is the NAWCC annual educational symposium for 2020. Its broad themes will focus on timekeeping, timekeepers and clockmaking during the American Revolution, not only from an American perspective but also from the English, French, and Hessian viewpoints. Important international speakers already have confirmed presentations on these themes, and they are listed on the Speakers page.
Taking place in one of North America's oldest historic cities, the symposium will open with a reception and the James Arthur Lecture on the evening of Thursday, October 1, 2020, in Benjamin Franklin Hall of the American Philosophical Society. For the next two full days of programs and banquet, the venue will move across the downtown street to Liberty Hall atop the new Museum of the American Revolution.
Never before has this unique horological focus on the American Revolution been undertaken. Participants will learn of the constant and vital role of timekeeping, and the active roles of clockmakers such as David Rittenhouse, in the birth of our republic.
Throughout the Itinerary of General Washington From June 15, 1775, to December 23, 1783, compiled by Williams S. Baker in 1892, and in many other period accounts, soldiers’ diaries, and orderly reports penned during our War of Independence, readers can find many references to specific hours of the day and night. Clearly these were not determined by squinting at the sky, but were actual times noted from consulting timepieces. Such reports principally were from the field, so pocket watches were the likely instruments, along with portable sundials also popular in those years. In colonial cities, domestic and foreign-made clocks stood in halls, hung on walls, sat on mantels, and displayed and rang the hours from public towers.
Museum of the American Revolution in Old Philadelphia.