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OLIVER WOLCOTT. OLIVER Wolcott was born in Connecticut, in 1726. His family was ancient and distinguished; and his ancestors successively held a long list of honorable offices in the state. He was graduated at Yale College, in 1747, and the same year received a commission as captain in the army, in the French war.
At the head of a company, which was raised by his own exertions, he proceeded to the defence of the northern frontiers, where he continued until the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle.
At this time, he returned to his native state, and entered upon the study of medicine. He never engaged in the practice of the profession, however, in consequence of receiving the appointment of sheriff of the county of Litchfield. In 1774, he was elected an assistant in the Council of the state, and continued in the office till 1786. He was also for some time chief judge of the Court of Common Pleas for the county, and judge of the Court of Probate for the district of Litchfield. In 1776, he was chosen a delegate from Connecticut to the national Congress, which assembled at Philadelphia. He participated in the deliberations of that body, and had the honor of recording his name in favor of the declaration of independence.
From the time of the adoption of that measure until 1786, he was either in attendance upon Congress, in the field in defence of his country, or, as a commissioner of Indian affairs for the northern department, assisting in settling the terms of peace with the Six Nations. In 1786, he was chosen lieutenant-governor of Connecticut, an office which he continued to hold for ten years, at the expiration of which he was raised to the chief magistracy of the state. He died on the 1st of December, 1797, in the seventy-second year of his age.
Mr. Wolcott was possessed of great resolution of character, and his attainments in literature were of a superior order. He was also distinguished for his love of order and religion. In 1755, he was married to a Miss Collins, of Guilford, an estimable woman, with whom he enjoyed much domestic felicity, for the space of forty years.
GEORGE WYTHE. George Wythe was born in the county of Elizabeth City, Virginia, in the year 1726. His mother, who was a woman of superior acquirements, instructed him in the learned languages, and he made considerable progress in several of the solid sciences, and in polite literature. Before he became of age, he was deprived of both his parents ; and, inheriting considerable property, he became addicted, for several years, to dissipated courses and habits of profligacy. But, at the age of thirty, he abandoned entirely his youthful follies, and applied himself with indefatigable industry to study, never relapsing into any indulgence inconsistent with a manly and virtuous character.
Having studied the profession of law, he soon attained a high reputation at the bar, and was appointed from his native county to a seat in the House of Burgesses. He took a conspicuous part in the proceedings of this assembly, and some of the most eloquent state papers of the time were drawn up by him. The remonstrance to the House of Commons, which was of a remarkably fearless and independent tone, was the production of his pen. By his patriotic firmness and zeal, he powerfully contributed to the ultimate success of his country.
In 1775, Mr. Wythe was elected a delegate from Virginia to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. He assisted in bringing forward and urging the Declaration of Independence, and affixed his name to that deathless instrument. During this latter year, he was appointed, in connection with Thomas Jefferson, Edward Pendleton, and others, to revise the laws of the state of Virginia. In the year 1777, Mr. Wythe was chosen speaker of the House of Delegates, and during the same year was made judge of the High Court of Chancery. On the new organization of the Court of Equity, in a subsequent year, he was appointed sole chancellor, a station which he filled, with great ability, for more than twenty years.
In the course of the revolution, Mr. Wythe suffered much in respect to his property. By judicious management, however, he contrived to retrieve his fortune, and preserve his credit unimpaired. Of the Convention of
1787, appointed to revise the federal constitution, he was an efficient member. During the debates, he acted for the most part as chairman. He was a warm advocate for the constitution, and esteemed it the surest guaranty of the peace and prosperity of the country. He died on the 8th of June, 1806, in the eighty-first year of his age, after a short but very excruciating sickness. By his last will and testament, Mr. Wythe bequeathed his valuable library and philosophical apparatus to his friend, Mr. Jefferson, and distributed the remainder of his little property among the grandchildren of his sister, and the slaves whom he had set free.
PERSONS DISTINGUISHED IN AMERICAN HISTORY.
AMES, FISHER, one of the most eloquent of American writers and statesmen, was born at Dedham, in Massachusetts, in the year 1758. He was educated at Harvard College, where he received his degree in 1774. About seven years afterwards, he began the practice of the law, and an opportunity soon occurred for the display of his superior qualifications both as a speaker and essay-writer. He distinguished himself as a member of the Massachusetts Convention for ratifying the constitution in 1788, and from this body passed to the House of Representatives in the state legislature. Soon after, he was elected the first representative of the Suffolk district in the Congress of the United States, where he remained with the highest honor during the eight years of Washington's administration. On the retirement of the first president, Mr. Ames returned to the practice of his profession in his native town. During the remaining years of his life, his health was very much impaired; but his mind still continued deeply interested in politics, and he published a considerable number of essays on the most stirring topics of the day. He died in 1808. In the following year, his works were issued in one volume octavo, prefaced by a biographical notice from the pen of his friend, the Rev. Dr. Kirkland.
ALLEN, ETHAN, a brigadier-general in the revolutionary army, was born in Salisbury, Connecticut, but was educated principally in Vermont. In 1775, soon after the battle of Lexington, he collected a body of about three hundred Green Mountain boys, as they were called, and marched against the fortresses of Ticonderoga and Crown Point; and in each of these enterprises he was successful. He was shortly after taken prisoner and sent to England. Of the events of his captivity he has himself given an interesting narrative. On release from his confinement, he repaired to the head-quarters of General Washington, where he was received with much respect. As his health was much injured, he returned to Vermont, after having made an offer of his services to the commander-in-chief in case of his recovery. He died suddenly at Colchester, in 1789. Among other publications, Allen was the author of a work entitled Allen's Theology, or the Oracles of Reason, the first formal attack upon the Christian religion issued in the United States. He was a man of an exceedingly strong mind, but entirely rough and uneducated.
ALEXANDER, WILLIAM, a major-general in the American army, during the revolutionary war, was born in the city of New York, but passed a portion of his life in New Jersey. He acted an important part throughout the revolution, and distinguished himself particularly in the battles of Long Island, Germantown, and Monmouth. He died at Albany, in 1783, at the age of fifty-seven years, leaving behind him the reputation of a brave officer and a learned man.
ARNOLD, BENEDICT, known for his distinguished services and daring treachery in the American revolution, was born in Connecticut, of an obscure parentage, and received an education suitable to his humble condition. Eager for renown, and greedy of money, he embraced the cause of his countrymen at an early period, and took the command of a company of volunteers at New Haven. He soon won a high military reputation, and was employed by Washington in expeditions that required the highest skill and courage, and placed in the command of posts of the highest importance. When the English evacuated Philadelphia, Arnold was directed to take possession of that city with some troops of the Pennsylvania line. Here he was guilty of the most profligate extravagance and the meanest peculation. Charges were preferred against him; he was tried before a court-martial, and condemned to be reprimanded by the commander-inchief. He immediately quitted the army, and thenceforth nourished an implacable hatred against the cause which he had so brilliantly defended. Having subsequently entered into a correspondence with Sir Henry Clinton, and a direct communication with the English general having been established, it was agreed between them that Arnold should dissemble his real feelings, and make every effort to obtain a command from General Washington. He was but too successful, and the fortress of West Point, a military station of very great importance, was confidently intrusted to him. This fortress he bargained with General Clinton to deliver into his hands; and the price of his treachery was the promise of 30,000 pounds sterling, and the rank of brigadier-general in the British army. The treason was discovered by the accidental arrest of Andre, the agent of the British general in effecting the negotiation. Arnold escaped with difficulty on board a British ship of war, and on the conclusion of the war was rewarded by his employers with a pension. He died in London in 1801.
ANDRE, JOHN; an adjutant-general in the British army in North America during the revolutionary war. Being employed to negotiate with Arnold the delivery of the works at West Point, he was apprehended in disguise within the American lines. He was condemned as a spy from the enemy, and, according to the established usages of war, was executed in 1780, at the age of twenty-nine years.
A monument has been erected to his memory in Westminster Abbey. He is the author of a poem entitled The Cow Chase.