Wilson Cary Nicholas

Wilson Cary Nicholas

c. 1805

Gilbert Stuart

(American, 1755–1828)

Oil on canvas

Unframed: 72.8 x 59.8 cm (28 11/16 x 23 9/16 in.)

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas W. Moseley 1992.305



Wilson Cary Nicholas was born January 31, 1761, into a politically powerful family from Williamsburg, Virginia. In 1781, he left William and Mary College to join the Continental Army, in which he commanded George Washington’s lifeguard until it was disbanded in 1783. As a member of the Constitutional Convention, he returned to Virginia to campaign for the ratification of the U.S. Constitution in that state, where it passed by a margin of only ten votes. He then served several terms in the House of Delegates before being elected to the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives. He became the governor of Virginia in 1814, retiring in 1819 due to poor health and spending his remaining days in the home of his son-in-law, Thomas Jefferson Randolph, President Thomas Jefferson’s grandson. He died on October 20, 1820, and is buried at Monticello, the president’s former estate.

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