Oliver Wolcott Jr.

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Oliver Wolcott Jr.
Oliver Wolcott Jr by Gilbert Stuart circa 1820.jpeg
24th Governor of Connecticut
In office
May 8, 1817 – May 2, 1827
LieutenantJonathan Ingersoll
David Plant
Preceded byJohn Cotton Smith
Succeeded byGideon Tomlinson
Judge of the United States Circuit Court for the Second Circuit
In office
February 20, 1801 – July 1, 1802
Appointed byJohn Adams
Preceded bySeat established by 2 Stat. 89
Succeeded bySeat abolished
2nd United States Secretary of the Treasury
In office
February 3, 1795 – December 31, 1800
PresidentGeorge Washington
John Adams
Preceded byAlexander Hamilton
Succeeded bySamuel Dexter
Personal details
Oliver Wolcott Jr.

(1760-01-11)January 11, 1760
Litchfield, Connecticut Colony, British America
DiedJune 1, 1833(1833-06-01) (aged 73)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political partyFederalist (Before 1816)
Toleration (1816-1827)
Jacksonian (1827-1829)
RelativesRoger Wolcott
EducationYale University
read law

Oliver Wolcott Jr. (January 11, 1760 – June 1, 1833) was an American politician and judge. He was the second United States Secretary of the Treasury, a judge of the United States Circuit Court for the Second Circuit, and the 24th Governor of Connecticut.

Education and career

Bureau of Engraving and Printing portrait of Wolcott as Secretary of the Treasury

Born on January 11, 1760, in Litchfield, Connecticut Colony, British America, Wolcott served in the Continental Army from 1777 to 1779, during the American Revolutionary War, then graduated from Yale University in 1778 and read law in 1781.

He was clerk of the Connecticut Committee on Pay-Table from 1781 to 1782. He was a member of the Connecticut Committee on Pay-Table from 1782 to 1784. He was a commissioner to settle claims of Connecticut against the United States from 1784 to 1788. He was Comptroller of Public Accounts for Connecticut from 1788 to 1789. He was Auditor for the United States Department of the Treasury from 1789 to 1791. He was Comptroller for the United States Department of the Treasury from 1791 to 1795. He was a commission merchant in New York City from 1793 to 1815. He was the 2nd Secretary of the Treasury from 1795 to 1800.

Martha Washington's escaped slave

On May 21, 1796, one of Martha Washington's slaves, Oney Judge (sometimes known as Ona), escaped from the Executive Mansion in Philadelphia, where she lived with the Washingtons during his presidency, serving as Washington's chambermaid. As Secretary, Wolcott was George Washington's intermediary in getting the Collector of Customs for Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Joseph Whipple, to capture and send Judge to Mount Vernon, where she had begun serving the Washingtons. Whipple met with Judge, discussed why she had escaped and tried to ascertain the facts of the case. After she told him she did not desire to be a slave again, Whipple refused to remove Judge against her will, said that it could cause civil unrest because of abolitionists, and recommended for the president to go through the courts if necessary. In their correspondence, Washington said that he wanted to avoid controversy and so he did not use the courts to take advantage of the method that he had signed into law under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793.

Washington allegedly made another attempt to apprehend her in 1798, by his nephew, Burwell Bassett, but considering Bassett's spurious political alignment[clarification needed] the allegation is skeptical at best and fraudulent at worst. According to the purported request, he was instructed to convince her to return or to take her by force, but Judge was warned by senator John Langdon and hid. Wolcott's involvement with this case ended with the first attempt to return Judge to slavery.

Federal judicial service

Wolcott was nominated by President John Adams on February 18, 1801, to the United States Circuit Court for the Second Circuit, to a new seat authorized by 2 Stat. 89. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on February 20, 1801, and received his commission the same day. His service terminated on July 1, 1802, due to the abolition of the court.

Later career

Wolcott was a farmer from 1815 to 1816. He was the 24th Governor of Connecticut from 1817 to 1827. He was a candidate for Governor of Connecticut in 1827. He was the 5th Grand Master of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of the State of Connecticut of Ancient, Free & Accepted Masons from 1818 to 1820.


Wolcott died on June 1, 1833, in New York City. He was the last surviving cabinet member of the Washington administration.


The town of Wolcott, Connecticut, was named in honor of Oliver Jr. and his father Oliver Sr.[citation needed] About 1798, Fort Washington on Goat Island in Newport, Rhode Island was renamed Fort Wolcott.[citation needed] Fort Wolcott was an active fortification until 1836.[citation needed] It later became the site of the United States Naval Torpedo Station, which became the location of the United States Naval War College.[citation needed]


External links

Political offices
Preceded by 2nd United States Secretary of the Treasury
Succeeded by
Preceded by 24th Governor of Connecticut
Succeeded by
Legal offices
Preceded by
Seat established by 2 Stat. 89
Judge of the United States Circuit Court for the Second Circuit
Succeeded by
Seat abolished
Party political offices
Preceded by Democratic-Republican nominee for Governor of Connecticut
1816, 1817, 1818, 1819, 1820, 1821, 1822, 1823, 1824, 1825, 1826, 1827
Succeeded by