Saturday, August 20, 2011

Oliver Wolcott, Jr. (1760 - 1833)

Was appointed in 1784, a commissioner to adjust and settle the claim of Connecticut against the United States.  Comptroller of public accounts, 1788-89; auditor, 1789-1791; Comptroller of the U. S. Treasury, 1791-95; Secretary of the Treasury, succeeding Alexander Hamilton, 1795-1800; appointed Judge of the Second Circuit Court in 1801; later engaged in business; founded Bank of North America and chosen first president 1812-14; Governor of Connecticut 1817-21, being the third of his family in lineal succession to attain that honor.  Received honorary degree of LL.D from Brown and Princeton in 1799 and from Yale in 1819.

During the pressing occupations of his public life he never forgot his literary tastes, his retentive memory enabling him to recall long passages of the British poets, with whom he was especially familiar.  During this period he became the author of some of the ablest papers in the Records of the State.  His annual Messages to the Legislature, his veto of the act known as the Steamboat Bill, his Plan of Taxation, and his draft of the new Constitution, fully sustained the reputation for ability, which he had gained in the Cabinet of Washington.
After his retirement from public life he returned to the City of New York and his few remaining years were passed at the home of his son-in-law, Col. George Gibbs, or in its vicinity.  He was buried in Litchfield.  The monument in the Litchfield Cemetery bears the Family Arms.  He was the last survivor of Washington's Cabinet.

He left behind a valuable collection of manuscripts filling more than fifty folio volumes. They embrace a full correspondence with the able political leaders of his party and the public men of that period--Washington, Hamilton, Ames, Cabot, Ellsworth, Pickering, Griswold, King, Hillhouse, Hopkinson, Quincy, and others--gentlemen in whose confidence he stood high and in whose counsels he actively participated.  Volumes embracing a portion of these papers have been published.

The Common Council of the City of New York, on the occasion of his death, unanimously adopted the following resolution on June 3, 1833:  Resolved, That this Board, entertaining a high respect for the Character of the Honorable OLIVER WOLCOTT, late Governor of the State of Connecticut, lately deceased, will attend his Funeral; and that a Copy of this Resolution be furnished by the Clerk to the Family of the deceased. 
Several portraits of him exist; one is by Colonel Trumbull and was painted for the Hon. Josiah Quincy of Boston and bequeathed by him to Professor Wolcott Gibbs of Harvard University.  Another, painted by Gilbert Stuart, is in the Capitol at Hartford and another, painted by R. Earle, is in the library of the Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford.  A later portrait is a crayon sketch, by Rembrandt Peale, of much value as a likeness, taken, it is said, while the Governor was delivering his Inaugural Address to the Legislature.  An admirable bust, executed after his death by Mr. S. V. Clevenger, is in the possession of the family. 

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