Oliver Wolcott Is Everywhere
Oliver Wolcott played a major role in the American Founding, both on the battlefield and in the Continental Congress.
Wolcott seems to have been constantly back and forth between his duties as Major General of the Connecticut Militia to his responsibilities in the Pennsylvania State House.
Somehow, Wolcott even found time to sign both the Declaration of Independence and Articles of Confederation.
Oliver Wolcott was a son of Connecticut's Colonial Governor.
While this may imply that he was destined for politics, one thing must be considered...he had thirteen siblings born ahead of him. Since he was so far down the list of children, he had to create much of his own opportunities.
This is not to say he was not given an advantage by his parents. His childhood education was enough that Oliver was accepted to Yale, where he graduated as valedictorian.
After studying medicine and law, Wolcott found success as a soldier.
During the French and Indian War he became a Captain and led his men successfully in the field. Afterwards, Oliver returned to Litchfield, Connecticut where he served as Sheriff for over twenty years. At the time, the sheriff would be the loan police officer in the area, recruiting men from the militia if he needed assistance.
It was in this position that Wolcott earned the respect and trust of his community.
Commissioner of Indian Affairs
At the outbreak of the American Revolution, Wolcott was appointed as a Brigadier General for the Connecticut militia.
Additionally, he was selected as a delegate to the Continental Congress.
In Congress, Wolcott was given the office of Commissioner of Indian Affairs. His responsibility in this position was to negotiate treaties which would keep the Native Americans neutral during the hostilities.
Oliver was an early proponent of Independence.
However, he was called to action when General Washington moved the Continental Army to New York. Because of this, Wolcott was not present for the vote to separate from Great Britain.
Wolcott was then promoted to Major General of the Connecticut militia. He received command of all the troops from Connecticut who were serving within within New York State, a responsibility he would keep for the remainder of the war.
To Congress and Back Again
Wolcott returned to Congress in the autumn of 1776. It was then that he finally signed the Declaration of Independence. (He was not the first or the last person to sign the document late.)
From there, Oliver left once again to play a supporting role in the momentous Battle of Saratoga.
What did he do then? Well he went back to the Continental Congress of course. Wolcott then signed the Articles of Confederation, creating the first government of the United States.
Oliver Wolcott was not done yet.
He was promoted to Commander for all of Connecticut's militia throughout the colonies. He continued to lead raids on the British across the North and Mid-Atlantic States.
As the American Revolution came to it's close, Wolcott (still Commissioner of Indian Affairs mind you) was asked to complete the peace treaty with the Iroquois in Upstate New York.
He 'retired’ into the position of Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut. After a decade in this office, Wolcott was elected as Governor. He spent his few remaining years as the Chief Executive of his home State.
Oliver Wolcott is truly one of the unsung heroes of the American Revolution. If you'd like to keep reading articles like this, please subscribe to our email list and receive a new Founder right in your inbox every morning.
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Oliver Wolcott is yet another Founding Father who does not have a modern biography to recommend. As usual in these cases, I am recommending 'Signing Their Lives Away' which has short, fun bios about all the autographs on the Declaration. We are an Amazon affiliate so the book purchase will go through that trusted site.