David M. Potter

David Morris Potter (December 6, 1910 in Augusta, Georgia – February 18, 1971) was an American historian of the South. Born in Georgia, he graduated from the Academy of Richmond County, then from Emory University in 1932. At Yale he studied under Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, earning his Ph.D. in 1940 and publishing Lincoln and His Party in the Secession Crisis in 1942. As professor of history at Yale University in 1942–1961 and Coe Professor of American History at Stanford University in 1961–1971 he directed numerous dissertations and served on numerous editorial and professional boards. He also held the Walgreen Lectureship at the University of Chicago, and the Commonwealth Fund Lectureship at the University of London. Potter held the Harold Vyvyan Harmsworth Professor of American History at Oxford University in 1947.[1] He was a pioneer in sponsoring the study of Women's history.

Potter posthumously won the 1977 Pulitzer Prize for History for The Impending Crisis, 1848-1861 (1976), an in-depth narrative and analysis of the causes of the American Civil War. His main achievement was to put the history of the South in national perspective. He rejected the conflict model of Charles A. Beard and emphasized the depth of consensus on American values. He considered himself a conservative and was a prominent exponent of Consensus history.[2]



  1. historicalsociety.stanford.edu
  2. Robert M. Collins, "David Potter's People of Plenty and the Recycling of Consensus History." Reviews in American History (1988) 16#2 pp. 321-335 in JSTOR


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