Do You Know About Oliver Wolcott?


Did you know that Oliver Wolcott, Connecticut Signer of the Declaration of Independence had to leave Congress due to ill health in June of 1776?  On his way home to Litchfield, he stops in New York City to watch the crowds pull down the statue of King George III after the Declaration had been ordered to be read publically by General Washington.  The statue itself weight at least 4000 pounds and was made of lead covered in gold leaf.  Many people would take home bits of the statue as souvenirs.

Oliver Wolcott

Legend has it, that the head was placed on a spike, displayed outside a local tavern, and then shipped back to London.  Wolcott collects some of the pieces of the statue, ships them to the port of Norwalk in Connecticut, before taking them to his home in Litchfield.  Upon arrival in Litchfield, he puts his wife, children, and the locals to work melting the pieces down and making them into bullets.  A total of 42,088 bullets were made from the pieces he collected.  With his 15-year-old daughter, Laura, making 8,378.  His 11-year-old daughter, Mary, made 10,790 bullets and his nine-year-old son, Frederick, made 936 bullets.  Frederick in later years would say that his father took an ax to some of the pieces as well.  The bullets would be used at the Battle of Saratoga and be taken there by General Wolcott himself.  Interestingly, twenty-five years after General Wolcott had died (in 1797), the locals were still finding pieces of the statute.  Those pieces included parts of the King’s saddle, horse’s tail, arm, and thigh but a total of about 1400 pounds of the statue still missing. [1]

[1] Kiernan, Denise, and Joseph D’Agnese. Signing Their Lives Away: The Fame and Misfortune of The Men Who Signed The Declaration of Independence (Philadelphia: Quirk Book, c2009)

Picture of Oliver Wolcott’s home is from my private collection.