Increasingly, Americans let the clock tell the time and regulate their lives.
People's daily lives and their sense of time were changing. They still looked to nature's rhythms to define time, but the cadences of the ticking clock—echoed in the pulse of factories, railroads, and cities—grew more insistent. More people found themselves governed by the mechanical regularity and pace of the clock.
The Race Is On
As the tempo of life accelerated and speed became a virtue, a horse-racing craze swept the nation. At the track, stopwatches made it possible to post winning times in quarter-seconds! In 1855, Lexington, the country's most famous horse, ran unchallenged in a four-mile race against the clock. He set a world speed record—7 minutes, 19 3/4 seconds—that stood for nearly twenty years. Such feats inspired the American Watch Company to introduce the world's first mass-produced stopwatch.
Lexington lithograph, 1855; by Currier & Ives. Caption reads, "The great Monarch of the turf and sire of racers."
Chronodrometer, or Improved Horse Timing Watch, American Watch Company, Waltham, Massachusetts, about 1859