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Potter (William James) Papers
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The papers of the American Unitarian clergyman, editor, and writer William James Potter.
William James Potter (1829?-1893) was an Unitarian clergyman, theologian, and author, one of the founders of the Free Religious Association and the editor of The Index. William James Potter was the son of William and Anna (Aiken) Potter, a Quaker family of North Dartmouth, Massachusetts; Potter was educated at the Friends School in Providence, Rhode Island. In the late 1840s, he taught school in Dartmouth and Bridgeport, Massachusetts. In 1850, Potter entered Harvard College and upon his graduation in 1854, he briefly taught at Cambridge High School, and in 1856 entered the Harvard Divinity School though he left before graduation. Potter then traveled to Germany, Italy, and Switzerland before returning to the United States and, in December 1859, was ordained and installed as minister of the First Congregational Society in New Bedford, Massachusetts; he remained with his New Bedford congregation until his retirement in 1892. As an ardent abolitionist, Potter was a strong supporter of the Civil War; when he was drafted in 1863, he refused an offer to let wealthy parishioners pay a substitute. Potter was detailed as inspector of military hospitals and was later appointed chaplain to the Convalescent camp (later Camp Distribution), near Alexandria, Virginia. Potter was discharged in August 1864, and returned to New Bedford. In September 1863, William James Potter married Elizabeth (Lizzie) Claghorn Babcock (-1879), daughter of Spooner Babcock and Lydia Delano Babcock; Lizzie was a teacher and member of the congregation. The couple had two children: Anna Aiken (1864-) (mother of Conrad Aiken), and Alfred Claghorn (1865-1940), author and Librarian at Harvard College. Lizzie's brother Joseph Babcock was a successful shipping entrepreneur and a first cousin, Warren Delano II (1809-1898), was one of the nation's wealthiest men.
12.87 Linear Feet (11 boxes)
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