James Potter (1729 - 1789)

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Brig. General James Potter (Colonial Militia)'s Geni Profile

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Birthplace: on the bank of the river Foyle, Tyrone, Ireland
Death: Died in Potter Twp., Pennsylvania, United States
Managed by: Mark Murphy
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About James Potter

Daughter of American Revolution Ancestor #: A091609

Service: PENNSYLVANIA Rank: MAJOR GENERAL

Birth: 1729 CO TYRONE IRELAND

Death: 11-27-1789 POE FARM/ANTRIM TWP PENNSYLVANIA

Service Description: 1) ALSO COL,BGEN,MIL.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

James Potter (1729–1789) was a soldier, farmer and politician from Colonial- and Revolutionary-era Pennsylvania. He rose to the rank of brigadier general of Pennsylvania militia during the Revolutionary War, and served as Vice-President of Pennsylvania, 1781-1782.

Family and early life

James Potter was of Scots descent, (born in County Tyrone, Ireland). He came to Colonial America with his father, John Potter, in 1741, and the family settled in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, where his father became high sheriff in 1750. His first wife was Elizabeth Cathcart of Philadelphia, and his second wife was Mary Patterson Chambers, daughter of James Patterson of Mifflin County.

Military career

As a militia lieutenant for Northumberland County, where he made his home, James Potter took part in the Kittanning Expedition during the French and Indian War and reached the rank of lieutenant-colonel by the end of the war. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kittanning_Expedition

He also served during Pontiac's Rebellion. In 1776, he served as a colonel and as a member of the first Pennsylvania State Constitutional Convention. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pontiac%27s_Rebellion

During the American Revolutionary War, he led militia troops at the battles of Trenton, Princeton, Brandywine and Germantown. In April, 1777, he was promoted to brigadier-general of Pennsylvania troops. In 1777, with the troops under his command in the counties of Philadelphia, Chester, and Delaware, he obtained important information for George Washington, and prevented supplies from reaching the enemy. On 11 December, while the army under Washington was on its way to Valley Forge, after part of it had crossed the Schuylkill River at Matson's Ford, it was found that the enemy under Cornwallis were in force on the other side. "They were met," writes Washington, "by General Potter, with part of the Pennsylvania Militia, who behaved with great bravery, and gave them every possible opposition until he was obliged to retreat from their superior numbers." In the spring of 1778, Washington wrote from Valley Forge: "If the state of General Potter's affairs will admit of his returning to the army, I shall be exceedingly glad to see him, as his activity and vigilance have been much wanted during the winter." Potter had left the army because his wife had become ill.

Some letters between Washington and Potter have survived to this day.

Farming and land development

When not engaged in military action Potter was a farmer. Before the Revolution he was involved in opening former Indian territories to European settlement, and warranted a large tract of such land for his own use.

Political life

In 1780, Potter was elected to Pennsylvania's Council of Censors or Supreme Executive Council. In that year he lost a Vice-Presidential election to William Moore, earning only six of the sixty votes cast. (The position of Vice-President is analogous to the modern office of Lieutenant Governor.) However, the following year, on 14 November 1781, he was elected to the Vice-Presidency, earning thirty eight votes to James Ewing's twenty eight. But on 7 November 1782, he lost both the Presidential race to John Dickinson (earning only thirty two votes to Dickinson's forty one) and the Vice-Presidential race to James Ewing (earning thirty four votes to Ewing's thirty nine). During his Vice-Presidential term he served as an ex officio member of the Board of Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania.[1]

Potter was named a major-general of the militia in 1782, and, in 1785, became deputy surveyor in Northumberland County.

Death and legacy

James Potter died in Centre County in 1789 as the result of a construction injury. He went to Franklin County (location of his father's plantation) because he was seaking medical help. His oldest daughter also lived there. He was a resident of Mifflin County at his death. The area of his plantation is now in Centre County.

Several place names in Pennsylvania, such as Potter County and Potters Mills (in Centre County), were given in his honor.[2]

A Pennsylvania Historical Marker near Potters Mills commemorates a Revolutionary-era fort built by General Potter. The marker was erected along State Route 144 in 1947. Its text reads:

Potter's Fort

Built 1777 by Gen. James Potter. A stockaded fort refuge for the settlers of the valley region. The site is on the nearby rise.[3]

References

[1] University of Pennsylvania's biography of James Potter, Accessed 17 April 2007.

[2] U.S. House of Representatives page for Pennsylvania's 5th Congressional District, covering Potter County, accessed 3 May 2007.

[3] Pennsylvania State Historical Marker for Potter's Fort, accessed 3 May 2007. -------------------- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_James_Potter

James Potter (1729–1789) was a soldier, farmer and politician from Colonial- and Revolutionary-era Pennsylvania. He rose to the rank of brigadier general of Pennsylvania militia during the Revolutionary War, and served as Vice-President of Pennsylvania, 1781-1782.

Family and early life

James Potter was of Scots descent, (born in County Tyrone, Ireland). He came to Colonial America with his father, John Potter, in 1741, and the family settled in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, where his father became high sheriff in 1750. His first wife was Elizabeth Cathcart of Philadelphia, and his second wife was Mary Patterson Chambers, daughter of James Patterson of Mifflin County.

Military career

As a militia lieutenant for Northumberland County, where he made his home, James Potter took part in the Kittanning Expedition during the French and Indian War and reached the rank of lieutenant-colonel by the end of the war. He also served during Pontiac's Rebellion. In 1776, he served as a colonel and as a member of the first Pennsylvania State Constitutional Convention.

During the American Revolutionary War, he led militia troops at the battles of Trenton, Princeton, Brandywine and Germantown. In April, 1777, he was promoted to brigadier-general of Pennsylvania troops. In 1777, with the troops under his command in the counties of Philadelphia, Chester, and Delaware, he obtained important information for George Washington, and prevented supplies from reaching the enemy. On 11 December, while the army under Washington was on its way to Valley Forge, after part of it had crossed the Schuylkill River at Matson's Ford, it was found that the enemy under Cornwallis were in force on the other side. "They were met," writes Washington, "by General Potter, with part of the Pennsylvania Militia, who behaved with great bravery, and gave them every possible opposition until he was obliged to retreat from their superior numbers." In the spring of 1778, Washington wrote from Valley Forge: "If the state of General Potter's affairs will admit of his returning to the army, I shall be exceedingly glad to see him, as his activity and vigilance have been much wanted during the winter." Potter had left the army because his wife had become ill.

Some letters between Washington and Potter have survived to this day.

Farming and land development

When not engaged in military action Potter was a farmer. Before the Revolution he was involved in opening former Indian territories to European settlement, and warranted a large tract of such land for his own use.

Political life

In 1780, Potter was elected to Pennsylvania's Council of Censors or Supreme Executive Council. In that year he lost a Vice-Presidential election to William Moore, earning only six of the sixty votes cast. (The position of Vice-President is analogous to the modern office of Lieutenant Governor.) However, the following year, on 14 November 1781, he was elected to the Vice-Presidency, earning thirty eight votes to James Ewing's twenty eight. But on 7 November 1782, he lost both the Presidential race to John Dickinson (earning only thirty two votes to Dickinson's forty one) and the Vice-Presidential race to James Ewing (earning thirty four votes to Ewing's thirty nine). During his Vice-Presidential term he served as an ex officio member of the Board of Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania.

Potter was named a major-general of the militia in 1782, and, in 1785, became deputy surveyor in Northumberland County.

Death and legacy

James Potter died in Centre County in 1789 as the result of a construction injury. He went to Franklin County (location of his father's plantation) because he was seaking medical help. His oldest daughter also lived there. He was a resident of Mifflin County at his death. The area of his plantation is now in Centre County.

Several place names in Pennsylvania, such as Potter County and Potters Mills (in Centre County), were given in his honor.

A Pennsylvania Historical Marker near Potters Mills commemorates a Revolutionary-era fort built by General Potter. The marker was erected along State Route 144 in 1947. Its text reads:

Potter's Fort

Built 1777 by Gen. James Potter. A stockaded fort refuge for the settlers of the valley region. The site is on the nearby rise.

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=35771023

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Brig. General James Potter (Colonial Militia)'s Timeline

1729
1729
on the bank of the river Foyle, Tyrone, Ireland
1768
1768
Age 39
Potter Twp., Pennsylvania, United States
1789
November 27, 1789
Age 60
Potter Twp., Pennsylvania, United States
1792
December 18, 1792
Age 60
????
????
????
Browns Mill Presbyterian Cemetery Kauffman Franklin County Pennsylvania