The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 63, July 1959 - April, 1960 Page: 166
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
personal reminiscences which Mrs. Kirkland has so adroitly em-
ployed as a framework for her current book. These memoirs,
manuscript copies of which today are in the hands of only a few,
bear the title "The Life History of Harriet Ames during Early
Times in Texas." They are made to order for Elithe Kirkland.
In her gripping story, Harriet, the narrator, is the heroine, in
spite of the irascible Potter's overwhelming personality and his
constant maneuvering for the center of the stage. Yet in her
assured, reserved manner, this unusual frontier woman captures
the reader's sympathy and respect. Interest is consistently sus-
tained throughout the narrative. Mrs. Kirkland's fictional embel-
lishments of the original, along with her timely interpolations,
show good taste and sound craftsmanship. Even a seasoned old
varmint hunter is not likely to be too annoyed over Big Tom, the
friendly panther, who saves her from a deadly snakebite, and
later tries to follow her wagon back to Brazoria after a trying
ordeal in the wilderness.
The chances are that if Mrs. Ames had not met Robert Potter
on that memorable day in 1836, there would have been fewer
provocations to write a "life history." It seems that most of the
lives he encountered, even casually, felt the scarifying impact of
his paradoxical nature and its unpredictable eruptions.
When he arrived on the Texas scene in 1835, he had served six
years as a naval midshipman, two terms in the national congress,
and had been elected twice to the North Carolina state assembly.
During the last year of his tenure as a public official, he com-
mitted a crime which horrified the entire South. So barbarous
was the nature of his act that the word "potterize" became a part
of the region's vocabulary. After a brief prison sentence and fine,
his powerful plea for vindication caused the voters to re-elect him
to the state legislature. This term was short-lived because of
charges brought against him which resulted in his expulsion.
Like many others at this time, Potter decided to start life anew
in Texas. Arriving in Nacogdoches in July, 1835, he was, during
the following February, elected delegate to the General Conven-
tion which convened at Washington-on-the-Brazos on March i.
Here his presence was felt. He served on the committee for draft-
ing a constitution, signed the Declaration of Independence, and
became the first secretary of the new Republic's fledgling navy.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 63, July 1959 - April, 1960, periodical, 1960; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101186/m1/204/: accessed September 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.