Secretary of the Treasury “Oliv. Wolcott” Autograph Letter Signed With His Opinion Regarding Surveying Fees
OLIVER WOLCOTT, JR. (1760 - 1833). American politician who served as the 2nd United States Secretary of the Treasury from 1795 to 1800 and the 24th Governor of Connecticut from 1817 to 1827.
August 1, 1800-Dated Federal Period, Autograph Letter Signed, “Oliv. Wolcott” as Secretary of the Treasury, on fine quality period laid paper, at Washington, D.C., measuring 9.75" x 7.5", Fine. A Letter to William Munson, Esquire of New Haven, rendering an opinion regarding surveying fees. Some modest toning and light foxing near the edges, no tears or splits. Wolcott’s signature runs right up to the right edge of the paper, with a pencil notation on upper left. Completely legible and a nice example of the signature. Wolcott graduated from Yale in 1778 despite serving in the Continental Army from 1777 to 1779.
Beginning in 1789, Oliver Wolcott Jr. (b.1760 - 1833) played an important role in the organization of the nascent Treasury Department. First, as Auditor, he established its clerical forms and methods, and two years later, as Comptroller, he was instrumental in establishing the branches of Secretary Alexander Hamilton's First Bank of the United States.
In 1795 Wolcott was appointed by President Washington to be Hamilton's successor, continuing as Secretary under President John Adams. Charged with the task of raising revenue for the rapidly growing Federal Government, Wolcott constantly sought and received Hamilton's advice. As Hamilton's ally he faced difficulties in Congress, where Hamilton's opponent Albert Gallatin sought more congressional control of Treasury's financial policy. Wolcott resigned in 1800 under a storm of criticism from Jeffersonians in Congress. In reaction he invited a congressional investigation of the Treasury Department in 1801, which cleared his name.
Oliver Wolcott, Jr. was the new nation’s second Treasury Secretary, the second of two men to serve in that position under President George Washington, and the first of two men to serve under President John Adams. Born in Litchfield, Connecticut in 1760 to a man who would later sign the Declaration of Independence, Wolcott graduated from Yale in 1778 despite serving in the Continental Army from 1777 to 1779. He later studied law and passed the bar in 1781 but spent much of the 1780s trying to disentangle wartime accounts. He became Connecticut’s state comptroller in 1789, then moved to the new federal government, first as auditor, then as comptroller, and finally, after Hamilton’s resignation, as Treasury Secretary.
With continued advice from Hamilton, Wolcott attempted to run small surpluses whenever possible and succeeded in doing so in 1796, 1797 and 1798, and ran an almost perfectly balanced budget in 1800. As a result, the nominal national debt was virtually unchanged over his tenure, starting at $83.76 million in 1795 and ending at $83.04 million in 1800. Because of the rapidly expanding and growing economy of the 1790s, however, the real national debt dropped from 22% to 17.5% of GDP during his term despite the fact that government expenditures as a percent of GDP grew from just under 2% to over 2.25% over that same span.
After leaving Adams’s cabinet at the end of 1800 due to the withering attacks of Jeffersonians, Wolcott ran a mercantile operation in New York until retiring to his Litchfield farm in 1815. In 1817, he started a decade-long stint as governor of Connecticut, a position previously held by his father and grandfather. He died in 1833, the final surviving member of Washington’s cabinet, in New York City but was buried in Litchfield.