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publication in the Army and Navy Gazette as the best exposition of the Enrolling Law that has appeared. I think he is right in the belief that the time has come for him to have a nearer view of the great movement of which the war is a development. For this reason I wish to see him. It cannot be otherwise than that he is drafted for no ordinary service a service that needs not, nor can be excused by a surgeon's certificate. Please tell him I wish to see him, and give him my thanks for what he has already done.
EDWIN M. STANTON.
The result of his interview with the great war minister was that, after preaching his farewell sermon on September 6, Potter was assigned the duty of "visiting and inspecting all the United States hospitals in and near Washington and Alexandria." This duty he faithfully discharged, making elaborate notes of the condition and needs of all the hospitals under his care.
Returning to New Bedford in November, on a furlough, he preached again to his society, and, on November 26, was married to Elizabeth Claghorn Babcock, daughter of Spooner and Lydia Delano Babcock of New Bedford. They proceeded at once to Washington, and in January, 1864, began to keep house in a little one-story hut in the Convalescent Camp, Alexandria, where he had been appointed chaplain. In May, he resigned his position as chaplain, and returned home with his wife. Leaving her
there, he went back to the front, and served on the Sanitary Commission. He remained on duty in hospital during the campaigns near Fredericksburg, and was often under fire. In August, 1864, he returned home, his leave of absence having expired, and resumed his duties as minister of the Unitarian Society.
From 1866 to the end of his life, Potter was profoundly interested in the Free Religious Association, and his work in its behalf constitutes, in fact, his chief claim to public remembrance and gratitude beyond the limits of his society and the city of his adoption. He was Secretary of the Association from its birth in 1867 until 1882, and President of it from 1882 to 1893; he was familiar with its inside and outside history as no man could possibly be who had not given to it, as he had done, the faithful continuous service of twenty-six years; and it is a cause of deep regret that he never took up, as I repeatedly urged him to do, the task of compiling an accurate and full history of the Association from the original records, interpreted and enriched by his own personal knowledge. Such a history would have been of priceless value hereafter; and now it can never be written. He shrank from the task, yet was attracted by it, too; and it is more than probable that he would have undertaken it, if his life had been spared ten years longer. What further I may have to say on this subject of the Free Religious Association and of Potter's connection with it must come later.
In the winter of 1872-1873, his eyes gave out, and
his general health became impaired; this obliged him to spend the months of March and April in the milder climate of Florida, where he recovered his strength.
In the spring of 1875, he spent a few weeks in Washington on account of his wife's health a sad forewarning of the greatest sorrow of his life; and again, in the winters of 1875-1876 and 1876-1877, the same reason took them both South once more, first to Columbia, South Carolina, and afterwards to Kittrell, North Carolina. In June, 1877, still for the same melancholy reason, the whole family removed to Grantville, Massachusetts, now Wellesley Hills, which obliged Potter to travel to New Bedford every week in order to discharge the preacher's duty. His gentle and lovely wife died on December 7, 1879, leaving her husband alone in the care of their two young children. He returned with them from Grantville to New Bedford in May, 1880, but not to the old home. Over this sacred grief let the veil be reverently drawn. Enough to say that no father ever fulfilled his duty more conscientiously or more tenderly or more wisely than did this bereaved and great-souled man.
When "The Index" was founded in Toledo, Ohio, and its first issue appeared on January 1, 1870, Potter assumed charge of a special page devoted to the Free Religious Association, and edited it independently, as Secretary, during the first year of that weekly journal. At the end of the year, this special page was given up, but the leading officers of the Association, together with other invited writers, be
came henceforth "editorial contributors." This arrangement continued till July 1, 1880, when the original editor of "The Index" resigned; and the Index Association, of which Potter was the President, gave to the Free Religious Association the entire property and goodwill of "The Index," valued at over five thousand dollars, on condition of continuing to publish the journal in the cause of "Free Religion." Proprietorship of "The Index" was now vested in trustees selected by the Free Religious Association, and Potter became editor, with an assistant, of "The Free Religious Index "-a name subsequently changed back to its original form. This function he continued to discharge, going to Boston weekly to supervise the "making-up" of the paper, till the end of the year 1886. At that time. "The Index" was given up altogether; and the Free Religious Association, ceasing to have a weekly exponent of its ideas, lost greatly in influence and power. During the entire seventeen years of its existence, "The Index" enjoyed the unwearied support and coöperation of Potter's mind and heart; and in its columns are still to be found some of the ripest and richest products of his brain.
The twenty-fifth anniversary of his settlement as minister of the Unitarian Society was celebrated at New Bedford on December 28, 1884. His own anniversary sermon, together with the speeches of Thomas M. Stetson, Esq., and the Hon. William W. Crapo, may be found in the volume already mentioned, "Twenty-five Sermons of Twenty-five Years," which was published in compliance with the request
of "many friends" who desired a permanent memorial of their beloved pastor and preacher.
In the spring of 1887, Potter's health was again much broken by sleeplessness and impaired nervous energy, but was restored for the time by a month's trip to the South. In 1889, from January to June, he was compelled to take another and longer rest in Florida and South Carolina. So much discouraged did he feel at last, in consequence of these repeated failures of health, that he tendered his resignation in April of this year; but his society, which was devotedly attached to him, refused to accept it, and insisted on lightening his labors by giving him a colleague. A young graduate of the Harvard Divinity School in whom he had become deeply interested, Mr. Paul Revere Frothingham, was invited to become his associate pastor, and, in accordance with Potter's own earnest wishes, was ordained as such on October 9, 1889.
But the long and faithful service was drawing to a close. In January, 1890, Potter was once more obliged to seek rest and recovery at the South; and, feeling that his life-work in New Bedford had been fully accomplished, he sent in his final resignation on October 2, 1892. To all entreaties to withdraw it, he remained inflexible, and his decision was communicated to the society in the following letter: