Jonathan Trumbull - Encyclopedia

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JONATHAN TRUMBULL (1710-1785), American political leader, was born at Lebanon, Connecticut, on the 12th of October 1710. He graduated at Harvard in 1727, and began the study of theology, but in 1731 engaged in business with his father. He next studied law, was elected to the Assembly in 1773, and held public office almost continuously afterward. He served for seven years in the Assembly, being Speaker for three years, for seventeen years as county judge of Windham county, for twenty-two years (after 1740) as governor's assistant, for two years as deputy-governor (1767-1769), and for three years (1766-1769) as chief justice of the colony. In 1769 he was elected governor and continued in office until his voluntary retirement in 1784. During the War of Independence he was a valued counsellor of Washington. The story that the term "Brother Jonathan," a sobriquet for the United States, originated in Washington's familiar form of addressing him seems to be without any foundation. After the war Trumbull was a strong Federalist. He died in Lebanon on the 17th of August 1785.

His public papers have been printed in the Massachusetts Historical Society's Collections, 5th series, vols. ix.-x. (Boston, 1885-1888), and 7th series, vols. ii.-iii. (1902). See I. W. Stuart, Life of Jonathan Trumbull, sen. (Boston, 1859).

His son Jonathan (1740-1809) graduated at Harvard in 1759, served in the War of Independence as paymaster-general of the northern department in1775-1778and as a military secretary of Washington in 1778-1783, and was a member of the national House of Representatives in 1789-1795, serving as Speaker in 1791-1793, and of the United States Senate in 1 7951796; he was lieutenant-governor of Connecticut in 1796-1798, and governor in 1798-1809. Another son, Joseph (1737-1778), was a member of the first Continental Congress (1774-1775), became commissary-general of stores of the Continental army in July 1775 and commissary-general of purchases in June 1777, resigned in August 1777, and from November 1777 to April 1778 was commissioner for the board of war. A grandson of the first Jonathan, Joseph (1782-1861), was a Whig representative in Congress in1834-1835and in 1839-1843, and was governor of Connecticut in 1849-1850.

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