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American Medical Biographies/Wolcott, Oliver

Wolcott, Oliver (1726–1797)

Dr. Oliver Wolcott, governor of Connecticut and signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born of a heroic, patriotic family November 26, 1774, in Windsor, Connecticut, the son of Roger Wolcott, who had been governor of Connecticut and second in command to Sir William Pepperell in the famous expedition which took Louisburg from the French. His elder brother was a brigadier-general in the Revolution and later supreme court judge in Connecticut. Oliver graduated from Yale College in 1747, and was at once appointed captain of a company of colonial soldiers in the war between the French and the English. He studied medicine with his brother Alexander, a physician. In 1751 he was made sheriff of Litchfield County and so entered his political career, becoming in course member of the council, judge of the court of common pleas, and judge of probate in the district of Litchfield. He also rose to the rank of major-general in the state militia. In July, 1775, he was appointed by the Continental Congress a commissioner, to obtain the adherence, or if possible, the neutrality, of the Iroquois Indians, but failed.

After the riot in Bowling Green, New York, in 1770, in which the lead statue of George the Third was overthrown, the statue was converted into rebel bullets in his house in Litchfield for use against His Majesty's soldiers. In 1776, as a member of the Continental Congress, he signed the Declaration of Independence. In 1777 he was active in raising troops for the Continental Army and commanded a militia brigade in the battle of Saratoga. In 1780 he was reelected and remained a member of Congress until 1784. In 1796 he was elected governor of the State of Connecticut.

He died in Litchfield, December 8, 1797, universally respected for his great ability and integrity. His son, Oliver, Jr., succeeded Alexander Hamilton as Secretary of the Treasury.

Univ. of Penn. Bull., Packard, 1901, vol. xiv, p. 132–133.