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Wolcott, Roger

WOLCOTT, ROGER (1670-1767), American administrator, was born in Windsor, Connecticut, on the 4th of January 1679, the son of Simon Wolcott (d. 1687). He was a grandson of Henry Wolcott (1578-1655) of Galdon Manor, Tolland, Somerset, who emigrated to New England in 1628, assisted John Mason and others to found Windsor, Conn., in 1635, and was a member of the first General Assembly of Connecticut in 1637 and of the House of Magistrates from 1643 to his death. 1 Roger Wolcott was early apprenticed to a weaver and throve at this trade; he was a member of the Connecticut General Assembly in 1709, one of the Bench of Justices in 1710, commissary of the Connecticut forces in the expedition of 1711 against Canada, a member of the Council in 1714, judge of the county court in 1721 and of the superior court in 1732, and deputy-governor and chief-justice of the superior court in 1741. He was second in command to Sir William Pepperrell, with rank of major-general in the expedition (1745) against Louisbourg, and was governor of Connecticut in 1751-1754. He died in what is now East Windsor, on the 17th of May 1767.

He wrote Poetical Meditations (1725), an epic on The Agency of the Honourable John Winthrop in the Court of King Charles the Second (printed in pp. 262-298 of vol. iv., series i, Collections of Massachusetts Historical Society), and a pamphlet to prove that " the New England Congregational churches are and always have been consociated churches." His Journal at the Siege of Louisbourg is printed in pp. 131-161 of vol. i. (1860) of the Collections of the Connecticut Historical Society.

His son, ERASTUS WOLCOTT (1722-1793) was a member of the Connecticut General Assembly and its speaker; he was a brigadier-general of Connecticut militia in the War of Independence, and afterwards a judge of the Superior Court of Connecticut.

Another son, OLIVER WOLCOTT (1726-1797), graduated at Yale in 1747 and studied medicine with his brother Alexander (1712-1795). In 1751 he was made sheriff of the newly established Litchfield county and settled in Litchfield, where he practised law. He was a member of the Council in 1774-1786 and of the Continental Congress in 1775-1776, 1778 and 1780- 1784. Congress made him a commissioner of Indian affairs for the Northern Department in 1775, and during the early years of the War of Independence he was active in raising militia in Connecticut. He was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence; commanded Connecticut militia that helped to defend New York City in August 1776; in 1777 organized more Connecticut volunteers and took part in the last few days of the campaign against General John Burgoyne; and in 1779 commanded the militia during the British invasion of Connecticut. In 1784, as one of the commissioners of Indian affairs for the Northern Department, he negotiated the treaty of Fort Stanwix (22nd Oct.) settling the boundaries of the Six Nations.

1 Henry Wolcott the younger (d. 1680) was one of the patentees of Connecticut under the charter of 1662.

In 1786-1796 he was lieutenant-governor of Connecticut, in November 1787 was a member of the Connecticut Convention which ratified the Federal Constitution ; he became governor in 1796 upon the death (15th Jan.) of Samuel Huntington, and served until his death on the 1st of December 1797.

See the sketch by his son Oliver in Sanderson's Biography of i... Signers of the Declaration of Independence (Philadelphia, 1820-1827).

Oliver's son, OLIVER WOLCOTT, jun. (1760-1833), graduated at Yale in 1778, studied law in Litchfield under Judge Tapping Reeve, and was admitted to the bar in 1781. With Oliver Ellsworth he was appointed (May 1784) a commissioner to adjust the claims of Connecticut against the United States. In 1788 he was made comptroller of public accounts of Connecticut; in the next year was appointed auditor of the Federal Treasury; in June 1791 became comptroller of the Treasury, and in February 1795 succeeded Alexander Hamilton as Secretary of the Treasury. At the end of 1800 he resigned after a bitter attack by the Democratic-Republican press, against which he defended himself in an Address to the People of the United States. In 1801-1802 he was judge of the Circuit Court of the Second District ( Connecticut, Vermont and New York), and then entered business in New York City, where he was president of the short-lived Merchants' Bank (1803) and president (1812-1814) of the Bank of North America. With a brother he then founded factories at Wolcottville (near Litchfield). He re-entered politics as a leader of the " Toleration Republicans," attempting to oust the Congregational clergy from power by adopting a more liberal constitution in place of the charter; he was defeated for governor in 1815, but in 1817 presided over the state convention which adopted a new constitution, and in the same year was elected governor, serving until 1827. He died hi New York City on the 1st of June 1833.

His grandson, George Gibbs (1815-1873), in 1846 edited Memoirs of the Administration of Washington and John Adams . . . from the Papers of Oliver Wolcott, Secretary of the Treasury. Wolcott wrote British Influence on the Affairs of the United States Proved and Explained (1804).

A grandson of the second Oliver's brother Frederick was ROGER WOLCOTT (1847-1901), who graduated at Harvard in 1870, and was admitted to the Suffolk bar in 1874. He practised law in Boston, and served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1882-1884 as a Republican. In 1892 he was elected lieutenant-governor (re-elected 1893 and 1895), and in 1896 became acting-governor upon the death (sth March) of Governor Frederick T. Greenhalge. He was elected governor in 1896 and served until 1900. He died on the 21st of December 1901.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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