In 1968 Martin Duberman described David Potter as a man who "may be the greatest living historian of the United States. With the additional evidence of this collection of his essays [The South and the Sectional Conflict] I'm glad for the chance to say that in print, not least because Potter is little known outside the historical profession, in part because he has written only a few volumes . . . and in part because he has always shied away from self-advertisement" (N.Y.Times). A native southerner, Potter did his undergraduate studies at Emory University and took his Ph.D. at Yale University in 1940. He taught at a number of universities, including Yale from 1942 to 1961 and Stanford from 1961 until his death. He also lectured widely in this country and abroad and served as Harmsworth Professor at Oxford University and Commonwealth Fund Lecturer at London University.