Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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POTTER, Elisha Reynolds, lawyer, born in South Kingston, Rhode Island, 5 November, 1764; died there, 26 September, 1835. He began life as a blacksmith's apprentice, and was also a soldier, but subsequently he studied law, and practised with considerable success. Prom 1793 till his death he was a member of the Rhode Island assembly, except during the years of his congressional service, and he was for five years its speaker. In 1796 he was elected as a Federalist to congress and served from 19 December, 1796, until his resignation in 1797. He was again sent to congress and served from 22 May, 1809, till 2 March, 1815, acting on important committees. In 1818 he was a candidate for governor. It is said of him that " few political men in Rhode Island ever acquired or maintained a more commanding influence."--His son, Elisha Reynolds, lawyer, born in South Kingston, Rhode Island, 20 June, 1811; died there, 10 April, 1882, was graduated at Harvard in 1830, and, after studying law, became a member of the Rhode Island legislature. In 1835-'7 he was adjutant-general of the state. He was elected to congress as a Whig, serving from 4 December, 184"I, till 3 March, 1845, and was state commissioner of public schools from May, 1849, till October. 1854. Subsequently he devoted himself to the practice of his profession, was chosen a judge of the supreme court of the state. Judge Potter was an active member of the Rhode Island historical society, and published in its collections "A Brief Account of the Emissions of Paper Money made by the Colony of Rhode Island" (1837), also various addresses. In addition to his "Report on the Condition and Improvement of the Public Schools of Rhode Island" (1852), "The Bible and Prayer in Public Schools" (1854), and other "Reports and Documents upon Public Schools and Education in the State of Rhode Island," he was the author of "Early History of Narragansett, with an Appendix of Original Documents " (Providence, 1835).
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