Oliver Wolcott

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This article is about the signer of the U.S. Declaration of Independence. For the Secretary of the Treasury under Washington and Adams, see Oliver Wolcott, Jr..
Oliver Wolcott
Oliver Wolcott Ralph Earl.jpeg
19th Governor of Connecticut
In office
January 5, 1796 – December 1, 1797
Lieutenant Jonathan Trumbull, Jr.
Preceded by Samuel Huntington
Succeeded by Jonathan Trumbull, Jr.
3rd Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut
In office
Governor Samuel Huntington
Preceded by Samuel Huntington
Succeeded by Jonathan Trumbull, Jr.
Personal details
Born November 20, 1726
Windsor, Connecticut
Died December 1, 1797(1797-12-01) (aged 71)
Farmington, Connecticut
Political party Federalist
Spouse(s) Laura Collins Wolcott
Children Oliver Wolcott (died young), Oliver Wolcott, Jr., Laura Wolcott Moseley, Mariann Wolcott Goodrich, Frederick Wolcott
Profession politician, patriot

Oliver Wolcott (November 20, 1726 – December 1, 1797) was a signer of the United States Declaration of Independence and also the Articles of Confederation as a representative of Connecticut and the nineteenth Governor of Connecticut.


Wolcott was born in Windsor, Connecticut, the youngest of fourteen children of the colonial governor Roger Wolcott. He attended Yale College, graduating in 1747. He was commissioned to raise a militia company to fight in the French and Indian War, and he served the King as Captain in this unit on the northern frontier. At the end of the war, Wolcott studied medicine with his brother, Alexander,[1] then was appointed sheriff of the newly created Litchfield County, Connecticut, serving from about 1751 to 1771. He married Lorraine (Laura) Collins of Guilford, Connecticut, on January 21, 1755.[2] They had five children, Oliver (who died young), Oliver Jr., Laura, Mariann, and Frederick.

Wolcott was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society in 1814.[3]

Oliver Wolcott The descendants of Henry Wolcott have acted a conspicuous part in the field and in the legislative hall. Oliver Wolcott, was the youngest son of Roger Wolcott, who was appointed governor of Connecticut in 1751. Oliver was born the 26th of November, 1726, and graduated at Yale College at the age of 21. The same year he was commissioned to command a company which he raised and marched to the defense of the northern frontier, where he remained until the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle. He then returned, applied himself to the study of medicine, until he was appointed the first sheriff of the county of Litchfield, formed in 1751. In 1755 he married Laura Collins, an amiable and discreet woman of great merit. In 1774 he was appointed counselor, which station he filled for twelve successive years. He was also chief judge of the common plea court, and, for a long time, a judge of the court of probate. As a military officer he rose from the grade of captain to that of major-general. In the summer of 1776, he commanded the fourteen regiments raised by Governor Trumbull to act with the army in New York. He headed his brigade at the memorable battle that resulted in the capture of Burgoyne and revived the drooping cause of the bleeding colonies. He was uniformly consulted on important military movements, and was listened to with great confidence and respect. From his common ways he was a big and ardent supporter of the revolution. In 1775 he was appointed by congress a commissioner of Indian affairs for the northern department, a trust of high importance at that time. During the same year his influence was happily shown in reconciling disputes between the neighboring colonies relative to their respective boundaries. Admirable and persuasive in his manners, aided by a sound hatred and a correct sense of justice, he was well calculated to be a mediator between contending parties. In 1776 he took his seat in congress, and remained until he affixed his signature to that Declaration which burst the chains of slavery, gave birth to a nation in a day, astonished gazing millions, made the British king tremble on his throne, and stamped the names of its signers with a fame that will endure, unimpaired, through the rolling ages of time. He then returned and took his station in the field, and on all occasions proved himself a brave, skillful, and prudent officer. When he deemed his services more useful in Congress, he occasionally took his seat in that body until 1783. In 1785 he was associated with Arthur Lee and Richard Butler to conclude a peace with the Six Nations. The year following he was elected lieutenant-governor, which station he filled for ten years, when he was chosen governor, the dignified duties of which station he performed until death closed his mortal career on the first of December, 1797, in the seventy-first year of his age, regretted by all, and most by those who knew him best. In addition to his numerous public services, always performed without pomp or noise, his private character shone with peculiar luster. He possessed all the sterling virtues, was a devout and consistent Christian, an honorable and honest man.

Death and legacy[edit]

On December 1, 1797, he died in Farmington, Connecticut. He is interred at East Cemetery, Litchfield, Litchfield County, Connecticut.

Oliver Wolcott, Jr., his son, served as Secretary of the Treasury under Presidents George Washington and John Adams and as Governor of Connecticut. The town of Wolcott, Connecticut was named in honor of Oliver and his son, Oliver Jr. His home in Litchfield was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1971. In Torrington, Connecticut there is a school named after him Oliver Wolcott Technical High School. He was passionate about poetry.

About 1798, Fort Washington on Goat Island in Newport, Rhode Island was renamed Fort Wolcott. Fort Wolcott was an active fortification until 1836. It later became the site of the United States Naval Torpedo Station.


  1. ^ "Oliver Wolcott". Litchfield Historical Society. Retrieved 24 November 2012. 
  2. ^ "Oliver Wolcott". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved 24 November 2012. 
  3. ^ American Antiquarian Society Members Directory

External links[edit]