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Bible Encyclopedias

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

Alonzo Potter

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ALONZO POTTER (1800-1865), American bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church, was born at Beekman (now La Grange), Dutchess county, New York, on the 6th of July 1800. His ancestors, English Friends, settled in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, between 1640 and 1660; his father was a farmer, a Quaker, and in 1798 and in 1814 was a member of the New York Assembly. The son graduated at Union College in 1818, and in 1821-1826 was professor of mathematics and natural philosophy there. In 1824 he was ordained priest, and married a daughter of President Eliphalet Nott of Union College; she died in 1839, and in 1841 he married her cousin. He was rector of St Paul's Boston, from 1826 to 1831, when he became professor of moral and intellectual philosophy and political economy at Union. In 1838 he refused the post of assistant bishop of the eastern diocese (Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island). He was vice-president of Union College in 1838-1845. After the suspension of Henry Ustick Onderdonk (1789-1858) from the bishopric of Pennsylvania Potter was chosen to succeed him, and was consecrated on the 23rd of September 1845. Owing to his failing health he visited England and France in 1858, and in April 1864 sailed from New York for California, but died on board ship in San Francisco harbour on the 4th of July 1865.

In 1846 he established the western and north-eastern convocations of priests in his diocese; from 1850 to 1860, when its corner-stone was laid, he laboured for the "Hospital of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Philadelphia"; and in 1861 he established the Philadelphia Divinity School. In 1842 with George B. Emerson (1797-1871) he published The School and the Schoolmaster, which had a large circulation and great influence. In 1847, 1848, 1849 and 1853 he delivered five courses of lectures on the Lowell Institute foundation. He advocated temperance reform and frequently delivered a lecture on the Drinking Usages of Society (1852); he was an opponent of slavery and published a reply to the pro-slavery arguments of Bishop John Henry Hopkins (1792-1868) of Vermont. He edited many reprints and collections of sermons and lectures, and wrote: Political Economy (1840), The Principles of Science applied to the Domestic and Mechanic Arts (1841), Handbook for Readers and Students (1843), and Religious Philosophy (1870).

See M. A. de Wolfe Howe, Memoirs of the Life and Services of the Right Reverend Alonzo Potter, D.D. (Philadelphia, 1871).

His brother, Horatio Potter (1802-1887), was born in Beekman, New York, on the 9th of February 1802. He graduated at Union College in 1826, was ordained a priest of the Protestant Episcopal Church in 1828, was rector for several months in Saco, Maine, and in 1828-1833 was professor of mathematics and natural philosophy at Washington (now Trinity) College, Hartford, Connecticut. In 1833-1854 he was rector of St Peter's, Albany; in November 18J4 he was elected provincial bishop of New York in place of Benjamin Tredwell Onderdonk (1791-1861), who had been suspended, and upon Onderdonk's death he became bishop. In 1868 his diocese was divided, the new dioceses of Albany, Central New York and Long Island being separated from it. Bishop Potter attended the Lambeth conferences of 1867 and 1868. His failing health put an end to his active service in 1883, when his nephew, H. C. Potter, became his assistant. He died in New York City on the 2nd of January 1887.

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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Alonzo Potter'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. 1910.

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