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Jonathan Trumbull, Sr.

In office
Lieutenant Matthew Griswold
Preceded by None
Succeeded by Matthew Griswold

Born October 12, 1710
Lebanon, Connecticut
Died August 17, 1785 (aged 74)
Lebanon, Connecticut
Political party None
Spouse(s) Faith Robinson
Children Joseph Trumbull
Jonathan Trumbull, Jr.
Faith Trumbull
Mary Trumbull
David Trumbull
John Trumbull
Alma mater Harvard University

Jonathan Trumbull, Sr. (October 12, 1710 – August 17, 1785) (Originally spelled: Jonathan Trumble, was changed for an unknown reason) was one of the few Americans who served as governor in both a pre-Revolutionary colony and a post-Revolutionary state. During the American Revolution he was the only colonial governor who supported the American side.

Trumbull College at Yale is named for him, as is the town of Trumbull, Connecticut, just north of Stratford and Bridgeport. Trumbull County, Ohio, once part of the Connecticut Western Reserve, is also named for him. The mascot of Connecticut's flagship university, The University of Connecticut, is named "Jonathan" in his honor.


Early life

Trumbull was born in Lebanon, Connecticut, the son of Joseph Trumbull (1678–1755) and his wife née Hannah Higley. He graduated from Harvard College with a B.A. in 1727; three years after graduation, during which time he studied theology under the Rev. Solomon Williams at Lebanon, and was licensed to preach at Colchester, Connecticut, this became a Master of Arts degree. He became a merchant with his father in 1731, participating more fully in the business after the death of his brother at sea in 1732. From 1733-1740, he was a delegate to the general assembly, and, in 1739-40, was Speaker of the House. He was appointed lieutenant colonel in Connecticut's militia in 1739.

He married, on December 9, 1735, Faith Robinson (1718-1780), daughter of Rev. John Robinson. They were the parents of six children including:

He served as deputy-governor of the Colony of Connecticut from 1766–1769, and, on the death of the governor, became Governor of Connecticut in 1769, serving in that capacity until 1784.

Revolutionary War

British General Thomas Gage arrived in Boston, a city on the verge of violence, on May 13, 1774. Given the problems he was inheriting from Royal Governor Thomas Hutchinson, within a week of arriving Gage contacted Connecticut governor Jonathan Trumbull and expressed a "readiness to cooperate" with him "for the good of his Majesty's service."[1] When Gage sent Trumbull a request for assistance after the Battles of Lexington and Concord, Trumbull refused and made clear his choice to side with the Patriots. He replied that Gage's troops would "disgrace even barbarians," and he accused Gage of "a most unprovoked attack upon the lives and the property of his Majesty's subjects."[2]

Trumbull was a friend and advisor of General Washington throughout the revolutionary period, dedicating the resources of Connecticut to the fight for independence. Washington declared him "the first of the patriots."[3] When Washington was desperate for men or food during the war, he could turn to "Brother Jonathan."[4]

On July 6, 1775, along with other officers, the governor of Connecticut commissioned Nathan Hale as a first lieutenant in the newly raised Seventh Regiment.[5]


He was the only colonial governor to continue in office through the American revolution. He served as the Continental Army's Paymaster General (Northern Department) in the spring of 1778, until the untimely death of his mother forced him to resign his post. As part of his resignation, he requested that the remainder of his back pay be distributed to the soldiers of the Northern Department[6].

He received an honorary LL.D. from Yale University in 1775 and from the University of Edinburgh in 1787.

Governor Trumbull died in Lebanon, Connecticut and is buried at the Old Cemetery there. His home in Lebanon, the Jonathan Trumbull House, was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1965.


  1. ^ Phelps, Page 48.
  2. ^ Eddlem, Thomas R. 25-AUG-03 The New American
  3. ^ Phelps, Page 59.
  4. ^ Lefkowitz, Page 232.
  5. ^ Rose, Page 8.
  6. ^ Misc Letters to Congress 1775-1789


  • Phelps, M. William (2008). Nathan Hale: The Life and Death of America's First Spy, St. Martin's Press.
  • Lefkowitz, Arthur S.(2003). George Washington's Indispensable Men: The 32 Aides-de-Camp Who Helped Win the Revolution, Stackpole Books.
  • Rose, Alexander (2006). Washington's Spies: The Story of America's First Spy Ring, Bantam Books.

External links

See also

Political offices
Preceded by
William Pitkin (Colonial Governor)
Governor of Connecticut
Succeeded by
Matthew Griswold

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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From LoveToKnow 1911

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