Clarkson Nott Potter

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The Hon.

Clarkson Nott Potter
Clarkson Nott Potter - Brady-Handy.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 12th district
In office
March 4, 1877 – March 3, 1879
Preceded byN. Holmes Odell
Succeeded byWaldo Hutchins
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 11th district
In office
March 4, 1873 – March 3, 1875
Preceded byCharles St. John
Succeeded byBenjamin A. Willis
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 10th district
In office
March 4, 1869 – March 3, 1873
Preceded byWilliam H. Robertson
Succeeded byFernando Wood
Personal details
Clarkson Nott Potter

(1825-04-25)April 25, 1825
Schenectady, New York, U.S.
DiedJanuary 23, 1882(1882-01-23) (aged 56)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Virginia Mitchell
(m. 1851; his death 1882)
RelationsHoward Potter (brother)
Robert B. Potter (brother)
Edward T. Potter (brother)
Henry C. Potter (brother)
William A. Potter (brother)
ParentsAlonzo Potter
Sarah Nott Potter
Alma materUnion College
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
OccupationCivil engineer, lawyer

Clarkson Nott Potter (April 25, 1825 – January 23, 1882) was a New York attorney and politician who served in the United States House of Representatives.[1]

Early life[edit]

Potter was born in Schenectady, New York on April 25, 1825. Potter was the eldest of seven children (six boys and one daughter) born to Sarah (née Nott) Potter (1799–1839) and Episcopalian Bishop Alonzo Potter (1800–1865) of Pennsylvania. After his mother's death in April 1839 from complications arising from giving birth to their seventh child (and only daughter), his father remarried in 1840 (to his mother's cousin Sara Benedict) and had three more children, all boys. Sara died in 1864 and his father remarried for the third time to Frances Seton, just three months before his death in July 1865. Among his siblings were brothers Howard Potter, a New York City banker, Robert Brown Potter, a General in the American Civil War (to whom he gifted a house known as "The Rocks" in Newport, Rhode Island),[2] Edward Tuckerman Potter, an architect who designed the Nott Memorial at Union College, Henry Codman Potter, who succeeded Horatio Potter as Bishop of New York in 1887, Eliphalet Nott Potter, who served as President of Union College and Hobart College, and William Appleton Potter (1842–1909), also an architect who designed the Church of the Presidents in Elberon, New Jersey.[3]

His mother was the only daughter of Eliphalet Nott, who served as the longtime president of Union College.[4] His paternal grandparents were Joseph Potter and Anne Brown (née Knight) Potter and his uncle was Horatio Potter, the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New York.[4]

Potter graduated from Union College in 1842, and completed his qualifications as a civil engineer at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1843.[5]


After qualifying as a civil engineer, Potter relocated to Wisconsin, where he worked as an engineer and surveyor. Potter then studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1846 and returned to New York where he commenced the practice of law in New York City.[5]

In 1868, he was elected as a Democrat to represent New York's 10th District in the 41st United States Congress. He was reelected to the 42nd and 43rd Congresses, the last term from the 11th District, and served from March 4, 1869 to March 3, 1875. He did not run for reelection in 1874.[5]

In 1876, Potter again elected to the House, and represented New York's 12th District in the 45th Congress, serving from March 4, 1877 to March 3, 1879. During this term Potter was appointed Chairman of the Committee on Pacific Railroads. He did not run for reelection in 1878.[5]

Potter was President of the New York State Democratic Conventions in 1875 and 1877, and he was a Delegate to the Democratic National Conventions in 1872 and 1876. He ran unsuccessfully for Lieutenant Governor of New York in 1879.[5]

From 1863 to 1882, Potter was a trustee of Union College.[4] He was President of the American Bar Association from 1881 until the time of his death in January 1882.[6]

Personal life[edit]

In 1851, Potter was married to Virginia Mitchell (1827–1890) of Philadelphia, the daughter of Matthew and Louisa (née Kidd) Mitchell. The Potters owned a country house, known as "Nutwood", two miles from Trinity Church in New Rochelle, overlooking the Long Island Sound.[7] Together, they were the parents of:[4]

  • Maria Louisa Potter (1855–1882),[8] who married Joseph Leslie Cotton of Boston in 1881.[7] After her death, her widower remarried to the artist Mariette Leslie Cotton.[9]
  • Virginia Potter (1857–1937), who did not marry, founded several independent hotels for women in New York.[10]
  • Howard Nott Potter (1859–1937), an architect known for his design of churches. He married his first cousin, Helen Potter, the daughter of fellow architect Edward Tuckerman Potter.[11]
  • Eleanor Potter (b. c. 1862).[12]
  • Clarkson Alonzo Potter (c. 1870c. 1936).[10][13]

Potter died in New York City on January 23, 1882.[14][1] After a funeral at Grace Church in New Rochelle,[15] he was buried at Vale Cemetery in Schenectady.[5] His estate, estimated in excess of $1,000,000, was divided among his wife and children.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "OBITUARY | CLARKSON N. POTTER" (PDF). The New York Times. January 24, 1882. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  2. ^ "CLARKSON N. POTTER'S SUMMER RESIDENCE" (PDF). The New York Times. March 7, 1882. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  3. ^  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Potter, Henry Codman" . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  4. ^ a b c d Smith, Henry Townsend (1913). Manual of Westchester County: Past and Present. H. T. Smith. pp. 64–65. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d e f "POTTER, Clarkson Nott - Biographical Information". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  6. ^ "THE LATE CLARKSON N. POTTER" (PDF). The New York Times. February 4, 1882. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  7. ^ a b "WEDDINGS IN JUNE. COTTON-POTTER IN NEW-ROCHELLE" (PDF). The New York Times. June 8, 1881. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  8. ^ "Mrs. Joseph Leslie Cotton (ca. 1858-1882)". New-York Historical Society. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  9. ^ "Joseph Lillis Cotton in entry for Clarkson Dudley Cotton, 04 Apr 1882". "New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949," database, FamilySearch; citing Death, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,322,619. Retrieved 2017-01-16.
  10. ^ a b "VIRGINIA POTTER, 80; AIDED GIRLS CLUBS; Dies After Spending 60 Years Improving Living Conditions for Working Women" (PDF). The New York Times. October 28, 1937. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  11. ^ "HOWARD N. POTTER, ARCHITECT, IS DEAD; Retired Partner in New York Firm Built Many Homes and Churches Here RELATED TO TWO BISHOPS Great-Grandson of Dr.-Eliphalet Nott and. Son of President of Bar Association" (PDF). The New York Times. August 1, 1937. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  12. ^ a b "Clarkson N. Potter's Will" (PDF). The New York Times. February 2, 1882. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  13. ^ "BEACH-AVENUE CLOSED TO TRAVEL" (PDF). The New York Times. June 3, 1883. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  14. ^ "THE HON. CLARKSON N. POTTER. HIS SUDDEN ATTACK OF ILLNESS WHILE ARGUING A CASE IN THIS COURT OF APPEALS" (PDF). The New York Times. January 22, 1882. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  15. ^ "FUNERAL OF CLARKSON N. POTTER" (PDF). The New York Times. January 26, 1882. Retrieved 9 November 2018.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
William H. Robertson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 10th congressional district

March 4, 1869 – March 3, 1873
Succeeded by
Fernando Wood
Preceded by
Charles St. John
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 11th congressional district

March 4, 1873 – March 3, 1875
Succeeded by
Benjamin A. Willis
Preceded by
N. Holmes Odell
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 12th congressional district

March 4, 1877 – March 3, 1879
Succeeded by
Waldo Hutchins