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
Sec. Oliver Wolcott, Jr.
Richard Morrell Staigg
Oil on canvas
62 x 52 1/2 x 4"
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.
About the Artist
Richard Morrell Staigg (1817 - 1881) received his early painting instruction from Jane Stuart, daughter of the early American portraitist Gilbert Stuart, in Newport, Rhode Island where Staigg's family had settled. Working as a portrait and miniature artist, he first exhibited in 1841 in Boston and spent most of his career in that city. His portrait of Oliver Wolcott, painted in 1880, nearly fifty years after Wolcott's death, was copied from an 1806 life portrait by John Trumbull.