Born in Providence, Rhode Island, Potter attended the district school and the academy in Herkimer County, New York. He studied law in Cooperstown, New York. He was admitted to the New York State bar at Utica in 1833 and commenced practice in Cooperstown, New York. He moved to Toledo, Ohio, in 1834 and continued the practice of law. He served as judge of the circuit court for the northern counties of Ohio. He served as president judge of the court of common pleas from 1834 to 1843, when he resigned.
Potter was elected as a Democrat to the Twenty-eighth Congress (March 4, 1843-March 3, 1845). He was not a candidate for renomination. He served as mayor of Toledo 1846-1848. He served as member of the State house of representatives 1848-1850.
Potter was elected to the Thirty-first Congress (March 4, 1849-March 3, 1851). He served as chairman of the Committee on Post Office and Post Roads (Thirty-first Congress). He was not a candidate for renomination. He resumed the practice of law in Toledo. He declined the appointment of judge of the Territory of Utah in 1858. City solicitor of Toledo in 1861 and 1862. He served as member of the board of education in 1864 and 1865. He served as member of the State senate 1874-1876 and served as president. He retired from active practice in 1880.