SONS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
Founded April 2, 1889, our purpose is to keep alive the memory of
men and women who fought or gave service for Independence in the American Revolutionary War.
Oliver Wolcott, Sr
The name of Wolcott, appeared among the early settlers of Connecticut, and from that day to this, it has been distinguished for living scions, honored for their talents in legislation or literature1 The subject of this brief sketch was both in Windsor, Connecticut, on the twenty-sixth of November, 1726.2 He entered Yale College at the age of seventeen years, and graduated with the usual honors in 1747. He received a Captain's commission in the Army the same year, and raising a company immediately, he marched to the northern frontier to confront the French and Indians. The Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle,3 terminated hostilities, and he returned home. He arose regularly from Captain to Major-General.
Young Wolcott now turned his attention to the study of medicine, under his distinguished uncle, Dr. Alexander Wolcott; but when he had just completed his studies, he was appointed sheriff of the newly-organized county of Litchfield.
In 1774, be was elected a member of the council of his native State; and he was annually re-elected until 1756, notwithstanding he was, during that time, a delegate to the Continental Congress, Chief Justice of Litchfield county, and also a Judge of Probate of that district.
Mr. Wolcott was appointed by the first General Congress, one of the Commissioners of Indian Affairs for the northern department; and he performed excellent service to the American cause by his influence in bringing about an amicable settlement of the controversy between Connecticut and Pennsylvania, concerning the Wyoming settlement: a controversy at one time threatening serious effects upon the confederacy.
Toward the close of 1775, Mr. Wolcott was elected a delegate to the second General Congress, and took his seat in January, 1776. He took a prominent part in the debates respecting the independence of the Colonies, and voted for, and signed that glorious Declaration of American disenthralment. Soon after this act was consummated, he returned home, and was immediately appointed by Governor Trumbull and the Council of Safety, to the command of a detachment of Connecticut militia (consisting of fourteen regiments) destined for the defence of New York. After the battle of Long Island, he returned to Connecticut, and in November of that year, lie resumed his seat in Congress, and was in that body when they fled to Baltimore at the approach of the British toward Philadelphia, at the close of 1776.
During the latter part of the summer of 1776, he was actively engaged in the recruiting service, and after sending General Putnam (then on the Hudson river), several thousands of volunteers, he took command of a body of recruits, and joined General Gates at Saratoga. He aided in the capture of Burgoyne and his army in October, 1777, and soon afterward, be again took his seat in Congress, then assembled at York, in Pennsylvania,4 where he continued until July, 1778. In the summer of 1779, he took command of a division of Connecticut militia, and undertook, with success, the defence of the southwestern sea coast of that State, then invaded by a British army.5 From that time, until 1783, he was alternately engaged in civil and military duties in his native State, and occasionally held a seat in Congress. In 1784 and 1785, he was an active Indian Agent, and was one of the Commissioners who prescribed terms of peace to the Six Nations of Indians who inhabited Western New York.6
In 1756, General Wolcott was elected Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut, and was re-elected every year, until 1796, when he was chosen Governor of the State. He was re-elected to that office in 1797, and held the station at the time of his death, which event occurred on the first day of December, of that year, in the seventy-second year of his age. As a patriot and statesman, a Christian and a man, Governor Wolcott presented a bright example ; for inflexibility, virtue, piety and integrity, were his prominent characteristics.
1 - The English ancestor, Henry Wolcott, first settled in Dorchester, Massachusetts, after his arrival in 1630. In 1636, he, with a few associates, moved to Windsor, in Connecticut, and formed a settlement there. He was among the first who organized the government of Connecticut, and obtained a charter from King Charles IL
2 - His father was a distinguished man, having been Major General, Judge, Lieutenant Governor, and finally Governor of the State of Connecticut.
3 - This was a treaty of Peace between Great Britain, France, Spain, Holland, Hungary, and Genoa. It was concluded in 1748.
4 - During the Revolution, Congress held its sessions In Philadelphia, but was obliged on several occasions to retreat to a more secure position- At the close of 1776 it adjourned to Baltimore, when it was expected Cornwallis would attack Philadelphia, after his successful pursuit of Washington across New Jersey. Again, when Howe marched upon Philadelphia, In September, 1777, Congress adjourned to Lancaster, and three days afterward to York where its sessions were held during the winter the American army were encamped at Valley Forge.
5 - The British fume was led by Governor Tryon, of New York- It was a plundering and desolating expedition- Fairfield and Norwalk were laid in ashes, and the most cruel atrocities were indicted upon the inhabitants, without regard to sex Or condition. Houses were rifled, the persons of the females abused, and many of them tied half naked to the woods and swamps in the vicinity of their desolated homes.
6 The five Indian Tribes, the Mohawks, the Oneidas, the Onondagas, the Cayugas, and the Senecas, had formed a confederation long before they were discovered by the whites. It is not known when this confederation was first formed, but when the New England settlers penetrated westward, they found this powerful confederacy strongly united, and at war with nearly all of the surrounding tribes. The Onondagas seemed to be the chief nation of the confederacy, for with them the great council fire was specially deposited, and it was kept always burning. Their undisputed domain included nearly the whole of tshe present area of the State of New York. They subdued the Herons and Algonquians in 1657; and in 1665 they almost annihilated the Eries. In 1672 they destroyed the Andastes, and in 1701 they penetrated as far South as the Cape Fear River, spreading terror and desolation in their path. They warred with the Cherokees, and almost exterminated the Catawbas and when, in 1744, they ceded some of their lends to Virginia, they reserved the privilege of a warpath through the ceded domain. In 1714 they were joined by the Tuscaroras of North Carolina, and since that time the confederacy has been known as the Six Nations. They uniformly took sides with the British, and entered into a compact with them against the French in 1751. In the war of the Revolution, “The whole confederacy,” says De Witt Clinton, “except a little more than half the Oneidas, took up arms against us. They hung like the scythe of Death upon the rear of our settlements, and their deeds are inscribed, with the scalping knife, and the tomahawk, in characters of blood, on the fields of Wyoming, and Cherry Valley, and on the banks of the Mohawk.”