Henry Codman Potter

Biography of Henry Codman Potter

Henry Codman Potter (sometimes I or Sr.; May 25, 1835 - July 21, 1908) was a bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States. He was the seventh Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New York.

Henry Codman Potter was born the son of another Episcopal bishop, The Right Rev'd Alonzo Potter, in Schenectady, New York in 1835. He was educated at the Philadelphia Academy of the Protestant Episcopal Church and Virginia Theological Seminary, where he graduated in 1857. He was ordained deacon in 1857 and priest in 1858; was rector of Christ Church, Greensburg, Pennsylvania, in 1858-1859, and of St John's Church, Troy, NY, in 1859-1866; refused the presidency of Kenyon College in 1863 and the bishopric of Iowa in 1875; was secretary of the House of Bishops in 1866-1883; and was assistant rector of Trinity Church, Boston, in 1866-1868, and rector of Grace Church, New York City, in 1868-1884. In October 1883 he was consecrated assistant to his uncle, Horatio Potter, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, and in 1887 succeeded him. The Rev. David Hummell Greer (b. 1844) became his coadjutor in September 1903, and succeeded to the bishopric after the death of Bishop Potter in Cooperstown, NY, on the 21st of July 1908. During Bishop Potter's administration the cornerstone of the Cathedral of St John the Divine was laid (in 1892).

He was notable for his interest in social reform and in politics: as rector of Grace Church he worked to make it an institutional church with working-men's clubs, day nurseries, kindergartens, etc., and he took part in the summer work of the missions on the east side in New York City long after he was bishop; in 1900 he attacked the Tammany Hall mayor (Robert A Van Wyck) of New York City, accusing the city government of protecting vice, and was a leader in the reform movement which elected Seth Low mayor in the same year; he frequently assisted in settling labour disputes; he worked for the re-establishment of the army canteen and attempted to improve the saloon, which he called the poor man's club notably by his taking part in the opening (August 1904) of the unsuccessful Subway Tavern.

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