Orlando B. Potter

Last updated

Orlando Brunson Potter
Illustration of Orlando B. Potter from his first run for Congress in 1878
Member of the U.S.HouseofRepresentatives
from New York's 11th district
In office
March 4, 1883 March 3, 1885
Preceded by Roswell P. Flower
Succeeded by Truman A. Merriman
Personal details
Born(1823-03-10)March 10, 1823
Charlemont, Massachusetts
DiedJanuary 2, 1894(1894-01-02) (aged 70)
New York City
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s)Martha Green (Wiley) Potter (1822–1879)
ChildrenMartha Potter (1854–1907)
Frederick Potter (1856–1923)
Mary Wiley Geer (1857–1931)
Ervine Potter (1859–1861)
Emma Potter (1860–1867)
Blanche Potter (1864–1942)
Alma mater Williams College
Harvard Law School
OccupationBusinessman, banker, politician
Signature Signature of Orlando Brunson Potter (1823-1894).png

Orlando Brunson Potter (March 10, 1823 – January 2, 1894) was a businessman and member of the United States House of Representatives from New York City. He is primarily recognized for his work to establish the National Banking Act in the United States.



Potter was born March 10, 1823 in Charlemont, Massachusetts, the son of Samuel and Sophia Rice Potter. [1] [2] He attended the district school in Charlemont, Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts, and the Harvard Law School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, MA (Hon) 1867, LLD 1889. He was admitted to the bar on February 12, 1845 and commenced law practice in Boston, Massachusetts. He married Martha Green Wiley on October 28, 1850. In May 1853 he moved to New York and engaged in manufacturing and patent law as President of the Grover and Baker Sewing Machine Company. And he pursued agricultural interests with a six hundred acre farm on the Hudson in Ossining, New York. He was engaged in commercial real estate development in Manhattan, having developed several commercial buildings in the city. Most notably, he developed the Potter Building in New York City, and later together with Asahel Clarke Geer and his son-in-law Walter Danforth Geer, formed the New York Architectural Terra Cotta Company on Long Island. [3] In 1884, he purchased the site at 71 Broadway and began planning development of the Empire Building, to be later completed by his estate. [4]

He is primarily known for his work to devise the National Banking Act of 1863. In an exhaustive letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase on August 14, 1861, Potter outlined the means to develop a national banking system. Much of his plan was incorporated into the National Banking Acts of 1863 and 1864. [5]

Potter was unsuccessful for election in 1878 to the Forty-sixth Congress. However, he was elected as a Democrat to the Forty-eighth Congress (March 4, 1883 – March 3, 1885) from New York's 11th congressional district. He declined to be a candidate for renomination in 1884 after congressional redistricting was completed that year.

He served as member of the Rapid Transit Commission of New York City 1890-1894 as well as a Cornell University and as a trustee of the New York Savings Bank on Bleecker Street. He died suddenly in New York City, January 2, 1894, and he was thought to have been the wealthiest man in New York City to have died intestate. [3] [6] He was interred in Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn along with his wife and three daughters: Mary, Martha, and Blanche.

Related Research Articles

Charlemont, Massachusetts Town in Massachusetts, United States

Charlemont is a town in Franklin County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 1,266 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Springfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Financial District, Manhattan Neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City

The Financial District of Lower Manhattan, also known as FiDi, is a neighborhood located on the southern tip of Manhattan island in New York City. It is bounded by the West Side Highway on the west, Chambers Street and City Hall Park on the north, Brooklyn Bridge on the northeast, the East River to the southeast, and South Ferry and the Battery on the south.

Federal Hall United States historic place

Federal Hall is a historic building at 26 Wall Street in the Financial District of Manhattan, New York City. The name refers to two structures on the site: a Federal style building completed in 1703, and the current Greek Revival-style building completed in 1842. While only the first building was officially called "Federal Hall", the current structure is operated by the National Park Service as a national memorial called the Federal Hall National Memorial.

Galusha A. Grow

Galusha Aaron Grow was a prominent American politician, lawyer, writer and businessman, who served as 24th Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1861 to 1863. Elected as a Democrat in the 1850 congressional elections, he switched to the newly-organized Republican Party in the mid-1850s when the Democratic Party tried to force the extension of slavery into western territories.

Levi Lincoln Jr.

Levi Lincoln Jr. was an American lawyer and politician from Worcester, Massachusetts. He was the 13th Governor of Massachusetts (1825–1834) and represented the state in the U.S. Congress (1834–1841). Lincoln's nine-year tenure as governor is the longest consecutive service in state history; only Michael Dukakis, John Hancock and Caleb Strong served more years, but they were not consecutive.

Grace Church (Manhattan) Church in New York, United States

Grace Church is a historic parish church in Manhattan, New York City which is part of the Episcopal Diocese of New York. The church is located at 800-804 Broadway, at the corner of East 10th Street, where Broadway bends to the south-southeast, bringing it in alignment with the avenues in Manhattan's grid. Grace Church School and the church houses – which are now used by the school – are located to the east at 86-98 Fourth Avenue between East 10th and 12th Streets.

Alexander H. Rice

Alexander Hamilton Rice was an American politician and businessman from Massachusetts. He served as Mayor of Boston from 1856 to 1857, a U.S. Congressman during the American Civil War, and as the 30th Governor of Massachusetts from 1876–78. He was part owner and president of Rice-Kendall, one of the nation's largest paper products distributors.

Allen Potter

Allen Potter was a politician from the U.S. state of Michigan.

Americus V. Rice

Americus Vespucius Rice was a nineteenth-century politician, banker, and businessman from Ohio. He served in the Union Army during the American Civil War and was appointed brigadier general at the end of the war, on May 31, 1865. From 1875 to 1879, he served two consecutive terms in the United States House of Representatives.

Robert W. Bonynge

Robert William Bonynge was a lawyer in Denver and New York City. He was a U.S. Representative from Colorado, member of the National Monetary Commission, and the Tripartite Claims Commission. He was chief counsel of the New York State Industrial Commission.

William S. McNary American politician

William Sarsfield McNary was an American Democratic politician who served two terms as a U.S. Representative from Boston, Massachusetts and exercised tremendous influence over the Massachusetts Democratic Party.

William Thomas Bland

William Thomas Bland was an American lawyer and businessman born in what became West Virginia during the American Civil War and who served as a U.S. Representative from Missouri.

55 Wall Street Building in Manhattan, New York

55 Wall Street, also formerly known as the National City Bank Building, is an eight-story building on Wall Street between William and Hanover streets in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan in New York City. The lowest three stories were built in 1836–1841 as the four-story Merchants' Exchange and designed by Isaiah Rogers in the Greek Revival style. Between 1907 and 1910, McKim, Mead & White removed the original fourth story and added five floors.

R. H. Robertson

Robert Henderson Robertson was an American architect who designed numerous houses, institutional buildings and churches.

Empire Building (Manhattan) Residential skyscraper in Manhattan, New York

The Empire Building is an office skyscraper at 71 Broadway, on the corner of Rector Street, in the Financial District of Manhattan in New York City. It was designed by Kimball & Thompson in the Classical Revival style and built by Marc Eidlitz & Son from 1897 to 1898. The building consists of 21 stories above a full basement story facing Trinity Place at the back of the building and is 293 feet (89 m) tall.

Scribner Building Commercial building in Manhattan, New York

The Scribner Building is a commercial structure at 155 Fifth Avenue, near 21st Street, in the Flatiron District of Manhattan in New York City. Designed by Ernest Flagg in the Beaux Arts style, it was completed in 1893 as the corporate headquarters of Charles Scribner's Sons publishing company.

Hart Leavitt

Hart Leavitt was a Massachusetts merchant, landowner, legislator and prominent abolitionist. Leavitt was the brother of Roger Hooker Leavitt, with whom he operated an Underground Railroad station in Charlemont, Massachusetts, where the two brothers, aided by a third sibling in New York, the reformer and abolitionist publisher Joshua Leavitt, sheltered escaped slaves on their journey northward. The Massachusetts homes of Hart Leavitt and his brother Roger Hooker are both listed today on the National Park Service's Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.

Potter Building Residential building in Manhattan, New York

The Potter Building is a building in the Financial District of Manhattan in New York City. The building occupies a full block along Beekman Street with the addresses 38 Park Row to its west and 145 Nassau Street to its east. It was designed by Norris G. Starkweather in a combination of the Queen Anne and neo-Grec styles, as an iron-framed structure.

Mutual Reserve Building Office building in Manhattan, New York

The Mutual Reserve Building, also known as the Langdon Building and 305 Broadway, is an office building at Broadway and Duane Street in the Tribeca neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City. The 13-story building, constructed between 1892 and 1894, was designed by William H. Hume and built by Richard Deeves, with Frederick H. Kindl as chief structural engineer. It is just east of the Civic Center of Manhattan, and carries the addresses 305–309 Broadway and 91–99 Duane Street.

150 Nassau Street Residential skyscraper in Manhattan, New York

150 Nassau Street, also known as the Park Place Tower and the American Tract Society Building, is a 23-story, 291-foot (89 m) building in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan in New York City. It is located at the southeast corner of Spruce Street and Nassau Street, next to 8 Spruce Street, the former New York Times Building, and New York City Hall.


  1. ERA Nine-generation Database, Edmund Rice (1638) Association, 2012.
  2. Smith, Elsie Haws. (1954). More About those Rices. Meador Publishers, Boston.
  3. 1 2 "Potter Building Landmark Report" (PDF). New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission September 17, 1996. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 19, 2012. Retrieved September 2, 2013.
  4. "Empire Building Landmark Report" (PDF). New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission 25 June 1996. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 12, 2013. Retrieved September 2, 2013.
  5. National Magazine: A Monthly Journal of American History 19:384-393. (November 1893)
  6. "Orlando B. Potter Left No Will: His many millions go to Mrs. Potter, his son, and three daughters". The New York Times . January 10, 1894. p. 12. Retrieved April 8, 2021 via Newspapers.com.
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Roswell P. Flower
Member of the  U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 11th congressional district

Succeeded by
Truman A. Merriman