Clifton Potter, PhD

Professor of History, College Marshal

Clifton Potter


505 Brevard

Experience/ Background

  • Three years study at Oxford University where I was a Fulbright Fellow.
  • Fellowships at the University of North Carolina and the Johns Hopkins University under the auspices of the National Endowment fort the Humanities.
  • Agecroft Association Summer Fellowship, 1987.
  • Fellow, Jessie Ball DuPont Summer Seminar for Liberal Arts College Faculty.

While at LC:

  • Chair, Division of Social Sciences, 1982-1990.
  • Chair, Department of History, 1990-1996.
  • Member of various faculty-student committees.
  • Advisor-Phi Eta Sigma.
  • Advisor-Sigma Phi Epsilon.
  • President-Elect of Phi Kappa Phi.
  • Faculty Secretary-Omicron Delta Kappa.
  • Sears-Roebuck Foundation Teaching Excellence and Campus Leadership Award.
  • T. Gibson Hobbs Award, Lynchburg College Alumni Association.
  • Shirley E. Rosser Award for Teaching Excellence.

Degrees and Certifications

  • 1962: BA, History, Lynchburg College
  • 1964: MA, History, University of Virginia
  • 1970: PhD, History, University of Virginia

Information on Courses Taught

Courses summary:

As our world rushes headlong into the next millennium there is an almost frantic desire to turn and catch one last long fleeting glance at the era that began with the year 1001, and particularly the last few centuries, which are but a moment in the history of our planet. This is my special area of study—not all our yesterdays, but those most recent moments that saw the world as we know it come into being. When I was a boy, I knew someone whose grandfather was a drummer boy in the Grand Army of Napoleon. The past is only yesterday, and we can make it live again. Why not come and explore it with me?

England to 1603:

Could Julius Caesar have ever imagined what he was starting when he fell flat on his face when he first stepped on the shores of Great Britain? The roots of our language, our legal system, and the essence of our culture may be traced to this island on the edge of the world. By exploring the races and cultures that inhabited Britain from the first invasion by the Iberian peoples, long before the birth of Christ, to the last by the Normans in 1066, it is possible to examine our own roots. Once the basic racial elements are in place, England’s story moves at a rapid pace from the tension between Saxon and Norman to war between France and England. After centuries of social turmoil and tension, England emerges as a great nation under Elizabeth I.

England since 1603:

Englishmen who lived during the reign of Elizabeth I believed that theirs was a golden age, but their grandchildren saw their nation torn apart by civil war. Fortunately out of this national tragedy emerged a people united and invigorated by their ordeal. As the Elizabethan age ended the English laid the foundations of a world state that would girdle the globe. In the 18th century the British lost an empire, and in the 19th century they acquired another one which gave birth to a family of nations in the 20th century. Britain is not only the birthplace of modern democracy, it is also the nation that witnessed the beginnings of the industrial revolution. From the glories of the Victorian era through the tragedy of World War I, to the triumph over Nazi Germany, Britain’s story is more fascinating than any story concocted by a novelist.

The Atlantic World in the Seventeenth Century:

The American Revolution did not “just happen.” For over 150 years that conflict was in the making, and this course begins to explore the events that led to independence. The history of the English in the seventeenth century is intertwined with that of the colonies that they planted in North America during that turbulent century. By exploring the forces which shaped our mother country, a better understanding of America is achieved. Events which at first appear only confusing and perplexing, suddenly make sense.

The Atlantic World in the Eighteenth Century:

In this continuation of the study of the complex relationship between Great Britain and her North American colonies, the major components of the English-speaking world drift toward war and ultimate separation. Was the revolution inescapable, could it have been avoided, or was it the fulfillment of a destiny whose roots lay in the previous century? The duel between Great Britain and France reaches its climax in the second decade of the nineteenth century, but not before the United States wins its independence with the help of the ancient Gaelic enemy. This course explores the twistings and turnings of this struggle that changed the world.

The Age of Courts and Kings:

Did the great Louis XIV really have fleas in his wig—and why was he wearing a wig in the first place? As we proceed from the trauma of civil wars and persecution to the refined society spawned by the Paris salons, this course examines the forces that produced the glories of eighteenth-century Europe while laying the groundwork for the French Revolution. It also offers a chance to view life as it existed for everyone from peasant to prince before the events occurred that changed the world forever.

From Revolution to Armageddon:

One of the images burned into the collective consciousness is that of the blade of the guillotine descending on the unfortunate victims of the French Revolution—and so this course begins. It ends with the fatally wounded Archduke Frank Ferdinand praying that his wife—who had already died—would survive to care for their three children. Between these two events lie the triumphs and tragedies of the era that gave birth to our own age. The men and women who lived and died in that 125-year period provide the excitement that draws the student into the kaleidoscope of the nineteenth century.

Tudor England:

Scholars regard the reign of Elizabeth I as a golden age filled with poets and playwrights, pirates and princes—but she was the last of the Tudors. Long before her reign began the exploits of the members of her family had become legend. The course begins with Henry VII lifting the crown of England from a bush, and it ends with Elizabeth defeating the great Spanish Armada. In between the two events lie the triumphs and tragedies of the Tudor century. Traditionally this course ends with an Elizabethan banquet!

Recent Publications

  • A Forgotten Entrance to Hell: The Lynchburg Prisoner of War Camp, 1862-1865. Lynch’s Ferry, April 2014.
  • Lynchburg: Then and Now. Arcadia Publishing, 2011. Co-author Dorothy Potter.
  • Victorian Ambivalence About Queen Elizabeth I: The Political History of a Royal Reputation, 2010. (Foreword by Carole Levin)
  • Lynchburg 1757-2007. Arcadia Publishing, 2007. Co-author Dorothy Potter.
  • “The Long Parliament,” “The Popish Plot,” and “The Rye House Plot,” Great events from History: the Seventeenth Century, 1601-1700, Pasadena: Salem Press, 2005.
  • Lynchburg, a City Set on Seven Hills. Arcadia Publishing, 2004. Co-author Dorothy Potter.
  • Another Journey Through the Years, a play celebrating the centennial of the founding of Lynchburg College written with Dorothy T. Potter and produced in October 2003 by the Lynchburg College Theatre.
  • “George V and George VI.” The Dictionary of World Biography, Salem Press, Pasadena, 2000.

Professional/Research Interests

  • Research and writing about the Elizabethan Age, with a special emphasis on the use of art as propaganda.
  • Currently working on a study of Victorian perceptions of Elizabeth I in literature, scholarly works, and the graphic arts.
  • Special interests are in English history, modern Europe from 1700 to the present, and the history of Central Virginia.

Personal Interests and Information

  • Officer of Elections, State of Virginia.
  • President of the Board of Trustees of the Academy of Music Theatre.
  • Scoutmaster [Silver Beaver].
  • Restoration and preservation.
  • Member of the Lynchburg Museum Board.
  • Cooking.
  • Travel.
  • Fitness.
  • Gardening.

My wife, Dorothy-Bundy, and I have been married for thirty-seven years. Both of us are graduates of Lynchburg College. We not only share a home—we share an office; I have taught at LC since 1965, and my wife has been a member of the history department since 1984. She also holds a PhD from the University of Virginia. Our son, Edmund, has a masters in architectural history from U.Va., and he is now working on his doctorate at Auburn University in Alabama. He is married to a teacher and is the Curator of Collections at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library at his birthplace in Staunton, Va. All three of us are Virginians—and we would not have it any other way!