Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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POTTER, John Fox, lawyer, born in Augusta, Maine, 11 May, 1817. He was educated at Phillips Exeter academy, and, after studying law, was admitted to the bar in 1837. Settling in East Troy, Wisconsin, in 1838, he began the practice of his profession, and during 1842-'6 he was judge of Walworth county. In 1856 he was a member of the legislature of Wisconsin, and he was then elected as a Republican to congress, serving from 7 December, 1857, till 4 March, 1863. In 1860, after Owen Lovejoy's speech in congress, concerning the assassination of his brother, Elijah P. Lovejoy (q. v.), Mr. Potter, at the close of an angry discussion with Roger A. Pryor, was challenged to a duel by the latter. Mr. Potter chose bowie-knives as the weapons, which were promptly objected to by the other side, and in consequence the matter was dropped. Considerable newspaper discussion followed. It is said that at the roll-call of congress at the time of the proposed meeting, when Potter's name was reached, the response came: " He is keeping a Pryor engagement." When Pryor's name was called, the answer was: " He has gone to be made into Potter's clay." In 1861 Mr. Potter was a delegate to the Peace congress, and on his defeat for re-election to congress he was tendered the governorship of Dakota. This offer he declined, and he received in 1863 the appointment of consul-general to British North America at Montreal, which he held until 1866. He has since resided in Wisconsin.
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