Robert Potter (U.S. politician)

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Robert Potter (c. 1800–March 2, 1842) was a Congressional Representative from North Carolina.

Potter was born in Granville County, North Carolina near Williamsboro (now part of Vance County, North Carolina). His early education was within the common schools. He served as a midshipman in the United States Navy from 1815 to 1821.

Potter subsequently studied law, was admitted to the bar, and practiced in Halifax, North Carolina and Oxford, North Carolina.

He was a member of the North Carolina House of Commons in 1826 and 1828. He was elected as a Jacksonian to the Twenty-first Congress and the Twenty-second Congress. He served from March 4, 1829, until his resignation in November 1831 after castrating two men, whom he believed to be having adulterous relationships with his wife. He again served as a member of the state House of Commons from 1834 until his expulsion in January 1835 either for "cheating at cards" or "for brandishing a gun and knife during a fight over a card game".[1]

Potter moved to Harrison County, Texas, in 1835 and settled on a farm overlooking Caddo Lake, near Marshall, Texas. In Texas, he continued his political career, becoming a member of the convention of 1836 which declared the independence of Texas March 2, 1836. During the Texas Revolution Potter was Secretary of the Navy in the cabinet of interim President David G. Burnet. He represented the Red River District in the Texas Congress 1837-1841.

He participated in the Regulator-Moderator War in East Texas as a leader of the Harrison County Moderators. On March 2, 1842, his home was surrounded by a band of Regulators led by William Pinckney Rose. He ran to the edge of Lake Soda (Caddo Lake) and dove in, his body sinking to the bottom after being shot.[2]

He was interred at "Potter’s Point," a bluff near his home; reinterred in the Texas State Cemetery, at Austin, Texas, in 1931.[2] Potter County, Texas is named for him.

The historical novel Love is a Wild Assault, by Elithe Hamilton Kirkland is the story of his Texas wife or "paramour" as the central character.

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Further reading[edit]

  • Fischer, Ernest G. Robert Potter: Founder of the Texas Navy. Gretna, La.: Pelican, 1976;
  • Shearer, Ernest Charles. Robert Potter, Remarkable North Carolinian and Texan. Houston: University of Houston Press, 1951.

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