Oswego County's: Guide To Government

John J. Wolcott

Senator Wolcott is a native of Trenton, Oneida County, New York. He was born June 20th 1810. His parents were of English descent, and removed to Oneida county, from Weathersfield, Connecticut, in 1800. Samuel Walcott, father of the Senator, was one of the pioneers of Oneida County. He lived to the age of 82 years, in a community which grew up around him, and which his intelligence and exemplary life had done so much to improve. He died in 1857, universally regretted.

Senator Wolcott received such education as the times afforded, in the common schools of Oneida County, and in the Academies of that part of the State. His early days were spent on his father's farm. In 1831, he first engaged in commercial pursuits, in his native town, and in 1834, removed to the Village of Fulton, Oswego County, where he has since been successfully engaged in commercial enterprises. He has at all times, been deeply interested in the growth of the Village, with the history of which, he has so long been identified; and he has had the satisfaction of seeing it rank among the most prosperous and enterprising in the State. He is one of the principal stockholders in what was the Oswego River Bank, organized in 1855, and of which he was elected President. More recently, this institution has passed into the First National Bank of Fulton, with Senator Wolcott continuing in the same relation as its presiding officer.

In early life, Senator Wolcott was a Democrat, but always of the Radical school. It was not in his nature to tolerate so inconsistent a feature in our institutions as American slavery. As a Democrat, he was, in days gone by, of the Michael Hoffman and Samuel Young school and became an active "Barn Burner," in the days when "Hunkerism" formed the other extreme of the Democratic organization. The events of 1848, found him ready to enter into the "Free Soil" movement. In the campaign of 1848, upon the "Buffalo Platform," he was a zealous supporter of Van Buren and Adams, and did much toward moulding that public opinion which resulted in a sweeping majority against General Cass in Oswego County. Extensively and most favorably known as business and public man, his taking a decided and activeposition in favor of "Free Soil, Free Speech, and Free Men," had a great influence with people in his section of the country.

For many years, Oswego County had been considered among the most reliably Democratic in the State. It is now among the strongest Republican Counties of the State. This liberal sentiment of the County is largely owing to many men, whom like Senator Wolcott, refused to follow the Democratic Party. In the combinations and compromises between "Soft Shell" and "Hard Shell" Democracy, which followed the canvass of 1848, Senator Wolcott was nominally with the former, but he was little in harmony with them, and repudiated their candidates, when he could not consistently support them. When the Republican party was organized, he entered it with zeal; and has been one of its leading members, in his own county, down to the present. In 1856, he was a support of Fremont and Dayton, and still later, of Lincoln and Johnson. During the war, in common with his loyal fellow citizens, he was active in support of the government, and in sending and supporting men in its defense.

In a life so active as has been Senator Wolcott's, it could not well be otherwise than that places of trust and responsibility would be offered him. In every situation, his services have been marked by thoroughness and fidelity to the interests of the masses. In every issue which has arisen between the laboring classes, on the one hand, and combinations or would-be aristocracy on the other, Senator Wolcott has always been with the people. He has ever been the friend of the laboring men and mechanics, in their struggles to better their condition; and there are few men in his community more favorably known among the farmers with whom he has had to deal through so many years. He was early elected to the Office of Town Clerk, and was subsequently Supervisor, so long as he would consent to run. He was Chairman of the Board, in 1854. He was frequently Trustee of his village, and was twice President of the same. In 1844, he was Loan Commissioner of his County. In 1857, the present Second Assembly District of Oswego County, was formed, and Mr. Wolcott was selected as the first candidate for member. Although the district was considered to be a close one, his majority was nearly one thousand.

In the fall of 1865, he was nominated in County Convention for State Senator, Oswego County forming the 21st Senatorial District, and was elected by a large majority. He is Chairman of the Committee on Public Printing, a member on Canals, and also on Banks. As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Printing, early in the last session, he made a report in which he called the attention of the Senate to the enormous useless expenditures for legislative printing, made by previous legislatures, and the great abuse had grown up in the Legislature in these expenditures. He recommended that the Senate should be liberal in its orders, but that all useless and extravagant expenditures should be disposed with. The Committee made this recommendation a rule, which was inflexibly adhered to in their reports, and the Senate sustained its Committee.

During his term in the Senate, Senator Wolcott has acquired the reputation of being an intelligent, capable and industrious legislator. He is a man of good sense and sound judgment. In the ordinary walks of life, he has always been distinguished for his lively interest in all that tends to improve society and benefit his fellow men. He has always been a practical and active temperance man, and has devoted his attention to the cause of education, having for years freely given his time among all his other engagements, to the dischargeof the duties of School District Trustee, and President of the Board of Trustees of Falley Seminary.

Life Sketches of Government Officers and Members of the Legislature of the State of New York


Pages. 168-171