Legislators tolerated plenty — but not cheating at cards

On this day in 1834: Just down the street from the Capitol, Rep. Robert Potter of Granville County loses $2,800 in a card game. Pulling a pistol and a knife, he pockets the pot and exits.

A week later, Potter will be expelled for reflecting discredit on the legislature.

Previously, however, his colleagues had been more tolerant of Potter’s misdeeds. He had been in jail for castrating two men — an aging minister and a 16-year-old — for carrying on with Potter’s wife while he was in Raleigh. Gov. David Swain issued a pardon so Potter could take office. Petitions were circulated to to prevent Potter from taking his seat, but the House contended it had no right to set standards of conduct — until he cheated at cards.