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Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century biographies contain errors and bias. We rely on volunteers to edit the historic biographies on a continual basis. If you would like to edit this biography please submit a rewritten biography in text form . If acceptable, the new biography will be published above the 19th Century Appleton's Cyclopedia Biography citing the volunteer editor





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Alonzo Potter

POTTER, Alonzo, P. E. bishop, born in Beekman (now La Grange), Dutchess County, New York, 6 July, 1800 ; died in San Francisco, California, 4 July, 1865. His father was Joseph Potter, a farmer, of tile Society of Friends, an emigrant from Cranston, Rhode Island. in which state other branches of the family are still living. Alonzo first attended the district-school of his native place, which was then taught by a Mr. Thompson, to whose influence in arousing and di-retting the activities of his mind he never forgot that he was greatly indebted. At twelve years of age he was sent to an academy in Poughkeepsie, and he was graduated at Union college in 1818 with the highest honors. Soon after his graduation he went to Philadelphia, was attracted to the Episcopal church, and entered its communion: His thoughts were soon turned to the ministry, and he was directed in his theological studies by the Reverend Dr. Samuel H. Turner. He was presently recalled to Union college as a tutor, and at twenty-one he was made professor of mathematics and natural philosophy. Meantime he pursued his studies, and was admitted deacon by Bishop Hobart, and in 1824 advanced to the priesthood by Bishop Brownell. In tile same year he married the only daughter of President Nott, of Union college. In 1826 Professor Potter was called to the rectorship of St. Paul's church, Boston. After five years of earnest and successful labor he felt constrained, despite the protestations of his people, to resign his rectorship. In 1832 he was recalled to Union college to fill the chair of moral and intellectual philosophy and political economy. His official position and his personal relationship naturally made him the friend and counsellor of the president in the administration of the college. In 1838 he was formally elected its vice-president, and continued to be practically its controlling head until he resigned to become bishop of Pennsylvania, 23 September, 1845. From his boyhood, owing perhaps in part to his Quaker origin, he cherished a deep sympathy for the oppressed, and through life, in every office, he befriended the negro race. He took great interest in the organization of young men's institutes throughout, the state of New York, and immediately on his settlement in Philadelphia, invoking the help of energetic laymen, established four such fraternities in that city, and gave his personal services as a lecturer before them. When he was called to the episcopate he was already under engagement to deliver in five consecutive years before the Lowell institute in Boston courses of lectures on " Natural Theology and Christian Evidences," beginning in 1845 and ending in 1849. They were given on an open platform, without even a brief before him, and the largest public hall in Boston was filled throughout the entire series. This was the intellectual triumph of his life. As a bishop he was most distinguished for his executive ability. He had a genius for administration. He devised large plans of beneficence, which it was costly to consummate, but they were so well considered before he communicated them to others that men of business and wealth were found ready to co-operate and to contribute for their realization. In his time the Episcopal hospital was founded, built, and endowed with nearly half a million dollars ; the Episcopal academy, which for half a century had had no sign of its existence but its charter, was revived, its commodious building was reared and filled with pupils, and its reputation for thorough instruction was made equal to that of any preparatory school in the city; the Philadelphia divinity-school was established, a valuable property for its occupancy was bought and fitted, and an endowment of several hundred thousand dollars was secured for its support. These institutions, still developing for the benefit of the present and future generations, owe their inception to Bishop Potter. In the twenty years of his episcopate thirty-five new churches were built in the city of Philadelphia. Tile growth of the diocese was such that in the year of his death it became necessary to divide it. His vigorous constitution succumbed under the pressure of care and labor that he took upon himself. In 1859 he was partially relieved by an assistant, but it was too !ate. He died in the harbor of San Francisco, where he had just arrived after a voyage around Cape Horn in search of health. He had received the degree of D. D. from Harvard in 1846, and that of LL.D. from Union in the same year. Bishop Potter was the author of treatises on logarithms and descriptive geometry, which were printed for the use of his classes in Union college (1822-'6) ; "Political Economy, its Objects, Uses, and Principles" (New York, 1840) ; "The Principles of Science applied to the Domestic and Mechanic Arts, and to Manufactures and Agriculture" (Boston, 1841 ; revised ed., New York, 1850) ; " The School and the Schoolmaster," with George B. Emerson (1842); "Hand-Book for Readers and Students "(1843) ; "Discourses, Charges, Addresses, Pastoral Letters, etc." (1858); and " Religious Philosophy" (1870). Fie edited seven volumes of "Harpers' Family Library," with introductory essays ; Reverend Samuel Wilks's "Christian Essays" (Boston, 1829); Maria James's " Poems " (New York, 1839); and "Lectures on the Evidences of Christianity, delivered in Philadelphia by Clergymen of the Protestant Episcopal Church, 1853-'4" (Philadelphia, 1855). See "Memoirs of the Life and Services of Rt. Reverend A. Potter, D. D., LL.D.," by Bishop M. A. De Wolfe Howe (Philadelphia, 1870).--His son, Clarkson Nott, legislator, born in Schenectady, New York, 25 April, 1825 ; died in New York city, 23 January, 1882, was graduated at Union college in 1842, studied civil engineering at Rensselaer polytechnic institute, and in 1843 went to Milwaukee, Wisconsin After being employed as an engineer, he studied law, and in 1848 returned to New York, where he began to practise. In 1868 he was elected to congress, from the 12th district of that state, as a Democrat, and he was twice re-elected, sitting in that body from 4 March, 1869, till 3 March, 1875. He declined a nomination to the 44th congress, but was again chosen for the two succeeding terms, and served from 15 October, 1877, till 4 March, 1881. During his congressional career Mr. Potter was a member of important committees, and took an active part in the discussion of the disputed electoral votes of Louisiana and Florida in the presidential election of 1876. In 1879 he received the Democratic nomination for lieutenant-governor of New York, but was defeated. Mr. Potter served as president of the American bar association, and received the degree of LL.D. --Another son, Robert B., soldier, born in Schenectady, New York, 16 July, 1829 ; died in Newport, Rhode Island, 19 February, 1887, spent some time at Union college, but was not graduated. He studied law, was admitted to the bar, and at the beginning of the civil war was in successful practice in New York city. He was commissioned major of the 51st New York volunteers, led the assault at Roanoke island, was wounded at New Berne, commanded his regiment at Cedar Mountain. Manassas, and Chantilly, and carried the stone bridge at Antietam, where he was again wounded. He was also engaged in tile battle of Fredericksburg in December, 1862, and was made brigadier-general of volunteers, 13 March, 1863. He had previously been commissioned lieutenant-colonel and colonel. He led a division at Vicksburg, and took part in the siege of Knoxville, Tennessee He was brevetted major-general of volunteers in June, 1864. In tile Wilderness campaign, his division was constantly under fire, and in the final assault on Petersburg, 2 April, 1865, he was severely injured. After the war he was assigned to the command of the Connecticut and Rhode Island district of the Department of the East, and on his wedding-day his wife was presented by Sec. Stanton with his commission as full major-general of volunteers, dated 29 September, 1865. He was mustered out of the army in January, 1866, and acted for three years as receiver of the Atlantic and Great. Western railroad. After spending some time in England for his health, he returned to Newport, Rhode Island, where he resided until his. death. Gem Grant refers to General Potter in flattering terms in his "Memoirs," and General Winfield S. Hancock said of him that he was one of the twelve best officers, including both the regular and volunteer services, in the army.--Another son, Henry Codman, P. E. bishop, born in Schenectady, New York, 25 May, 1835, after being educated chiefly at the Episcopal academy in Philadelphia, was graduated at the Theological seminary of Virginia in 1857, received deacon's orders the same year, mid was ordained, 15 October, 1858. From July, 1857, till May, 1859; he was rector of Christ church, Greensburgh, Pennsylvania, and for the next seven years he had charge of St. John's, Troy, New York He then became assistant minister of Trinity church, Boston, where he remained two years. From Nay, 1868, till January, 1884, he was rector of Grace church, New York city. In 1863 he was chosen president of Kenyon college, Ohio, and in 1875 he was elected bishop of Iowa, but he declined both offices. In 1883 Bishop Horatio Potter, of New York, having asked for an assistant, the convention of that year unanimously elected his nephew, Dr. Henry C. Potter, assistant bishop. He was consecrated on :20 October, in the presence of forty-three bishops and 300 of the clergy, the General convention being then in session in Philadelphia. By formal instruments, that were executed soon afterward, the aged bishop resigned the entire charge and responsibility of the work of the diocese into the hands of his assistant. These duties the latter continued to discharge until the death of Bishop Horatio Potter, on 2 January, 1887, made him his successor. Dr. Potter was secretary of the House of bishops from 1866 till 1883, and for many years he was a manager of the Board of missions. He received from Union the degrees of A. M., D. D., and LL. D. in 1863, 1865, and 1877, respectively, and that of D. D. from Trinity in 1884. Bishop Potter has published "Sisterhoods and Deaconesses at Home and Abroad: A History of their Rise and Growth in the Protestant Episcopal Church, together with Rules for their Organization and Government" (New York, 1872); "The Gates of the East: A Winter in Egypt and Syria" (1876) ; and " Sermons of the City" (1877).--Another son, Edward

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