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BRIEF MEMOIR OF
John TRUMBULL, the ancestor of the Trumbull family in this State, is said to have emigrated from Cumberland county, in England, and settled in Rowly, in Massachusetts: His second son, John Trumbull, (or Trumble) was a gentleman of distinction. He removed to Suffield, now in this State, (but then claimed by Massachusetts.) He had three sons, viz: John, Joseph, and Benoni. John was a clergyman of distinction in Watertown, in Connecticut. His son John was the author of McFingal and other valuable productions. Benoni was a clergyman, at Hebron, in this State. His son Benjamin Trumbull, D. D., was the historian, to whom this State is so much indebted for his early history of Connecticut :—He was a settled clergyman at North Haven. Joseph, the second son of John Trumbull, of Suffield, was a merchant at Lebanon ; and the first Governor Trumbull was the son of Joseph Trumbull, of Lebanon, and was there born, June 12, 0. S., 1710. He was educated at Harvard College, where he graduated in 1727, with the honors of the Institution, in reward of his industry and talents. Modest, yet accomplished in his mind and demeanor, he was fully qualified to become a useful member of society, and conspicuous in any business that should occupy his gigantic mind. Soon after he graduated, his attention was drawn to the study of theology with the Rev. S. Williams, of his own native town. He was soon licensed to preach, and immediately after was invited to settle in the ministry in the town of Colchester. At this time an elder brother, who was in business with his father, had sailed for London, in June, 1731.
For a long time a forlorn hope was entertained that the vessel had been captured by the Algerines; but distressing as was even this hope, time proved to be fallacious, and the vessel was never again heard from
The loss of this son, with the vessel and cargo, which wholly belonged to the family, so severely afflicted the father, that he found himself unfitted to close his mercantile concerns without the aid of his surviving son, (Jonathan,) who, with reluctance, declined the call of the church at Colchester.
IIe lest his profession, and closed up the business of his deceased brother, and commenced business for himself. He was many years a merchant at Lebanon, imported his goods directly from England; being strictly an upright dealer, he soon secured the confidence of the public. At the early age of 23, (in 1733,) he was elected a member of the General Assembly of the colony, where his strong powers of mind, and public business habits, were perceived ; by which he rapidly rose in office. And at the May session of the Legislature, 1739, he was chosen Speaker of the House of Representatives. And at the May session of said Assembly, 1740, he was elected one of the Assistants, or a member of the Council, where he was continued for many years, to do honor to himself and his State. In 1766, he was elected Lieutenant Governor, in which office he was continued until 1770 ; by virtue of which office, he became by law the Chief Judge of the Superior Court. Governor Pitkin, in 1770, being advanced in life, felt disposed, at his advanced age, to avoid the absorbing subjects which then agitated the public mind, viz.: the right of the British Parliament to tax the colonies ; the passage of the stamp act, &c.; which caused great excitement throughout the colonies. Though Governor Pitkin and some of the Assistants, took the oath enjoined by the British government, yet Lieut. Gov. Trumbull, sternly refused to take the oath, or see others demean themselves in so doing. No man in the colony at that time more coolly resisted the arbitrary acts of Parliament, or was more active, ardent, and energetic in the cause of his country than Jonathan Trumbull. In 1770, the electors of the colony, feeling that in those times of danger and distress, the most efficient, and energetic men in the colony should be placed at the head of the colonial Government, (and Gov. Pitkin wishing to retire) they elected Mr. Trumbull, Governor of the colony, to which office
he was successively elected until 1784. He was the only Governor when the war of the revolution commenced, who engaged in the cause of his country; and he held his office during the whole period of that eventful struggle. He was the most firm where there was the greatest danger. His persevering spirit in the most gloomy period, his ardor and zeal in his country's cause, endeared him to every whig in the colony and country. As a statesman, his opinions were clear, correct, and bold, while the soundness of his opinions was uniformly proved by the result. He was strictly a thinking and an honest man.
“His diligence, ability, and fidelity, were fully tested by the manner in which he performed the immense amount of business entrusted to him," a small part of which appear in the pages following this short biography of his life and history, with his Council of Safety, who sat with him during the war, in the recess of the General Assembly.
In addition to his duties as Governor, in attendance with the Legislature, from three to five sessions in a year, he sat in Council during the war more than 1200 days. His immense correspondence with the Governors of the other colonies, with General Washington, and other officers of the army, and with foreigners, must have occupied much of his time and attention. He was at all times prompt to comply with the requisitions of Gen. Washington for supplies of men, provisions, and money, to the full extent of his ability or the ability of the State. Connecticut was a great producing State, and furnished the United States with more troops and produce and munitions of war, according to her size, population, and ability, than any other State in the Union.
The correspondence of the Governor continued till his death.
“ The services of Gov. Trumbull, throughout the war, were of very great importance, not only to Connecticut, but to the United States. During the whole American war, he showed himself the honest and unshaken patriot, the wise and able magistrate. No man ever loved his country more. No man could guide the ship of state with more care. He was, happily, permitted to live to see the day when his native land enjoyed the blessings of peace, and the glory of her independence.
“ In October, 1783, Gov. Trumbull declined any further election to public office. “A few days,” said he, in his address to the General Assembly, “will bring me to the anniversary of my birth ; seventy-three years of my life will then be completed ; and, next May, fifty-one years will have passed since I was first honored with the confidence of the people in a public character. During this period, in different capacities, it has been my lot to be called to public service almost without interruption. Fourteen years I have had the honor to fill the chief seat of government. With what carefulness, with what zeal and attention to your welfare, I have discharged the duties of my several stations, some few of you, of equal age with myself, can witness for me from the beginning. During the latter period, none of you are ignorant of the manner in which my public life has been occupied! The watchful cares and solicitude of an eight years' distressing and unusual war have also fallen to my share, and have employed many anxious moments of my latest time ; which have been cheerfully devoted to the welfare of my country. Happy am I to find that all these cares, anxieties, and solicitudes are amply compensated by the noble prospect which now opens to my fellow citizens, of a happy establishment (if we are but wise to improve the precious opportunity) in peace, tranquillity, and national independence. With sincere and lively gratitude to Alinighty God, our great protector and deliverer, and most hearty congratulations to all our citizens, I felicitate you, gentlemen, the other freemen, and all the good people of the State, in this glorious prospect.
“ • Impressed with these sentiment of gratitude and felicitation, reviewing the long course of years in which, through various events, I have had the pleasure to serve the State ; contemplating, with pleasing wonder and satisfaction, at the close of an arduous contest, the noble and enlarged scences which now present themselves to my country's view; and reflecting, at the same time, on my advanced stage of life-a life worn out almost in the constant cares of office—I think it my duty to retire from the busy concerns of public affairs: that at the evening of my days I may sweeten their decline by devoting myself with less avocation and more attention to the duties of religion, the service of my God, and preparation for a future and happier state of existence ; in which pleasing employment I shall not cease to remember my country, and to make it my ardent prayer that Heaven will not fail to bless her with its choisest favors.
“* At this conspicuous moment, therefore, of my country's happiness, when she has thus reached the goal of her wishes, and obtained the object for which she has so long contended, and so nobly struggled, I have to request the favor from you, gentlemen, and through you, from all the freemen of the State, that, after May next, I may be excused from any further service in public life; and that from this time I may be no longer considered as an object of your suffrages for any public employment in the State.
“After thanking the Assembly for the aid which they had always afforded him in the discharge of his duties, the Governor availed himself of his experience, and rendered his last address "an advisory legacy" to his constituents.
“Governor Trumbull was seized with a malignant fever, and, after a few days' illness, died on the 17th of August, 1785.
“ The following letter, addressed by General Washington, to Jonathan Trumbull, the Governor's son, will be read with interest.
“ Mount VERNON, Oct. 1st, 1785. "MY DEAR SIR,
" • It has so happened that your letter of the first of last month, did not reach me until Saturday's post.
“You know too well the sincere respect and regard I entertained for your venerable father's public and private character, to require assurance of the concern I felt for his death ; or of that sympathy in your feelings, for the loss of him, which is prompted by friendship. Under this loss, however, great as your pangs may have been at the first shock, you have every thing to console you."
“• A long and well spent life in the service of his country, places Governor TRUMBULL among the first of patriots. In the social duties he yielded to no one ; and his lamp, from the common course of nature being nearly extinguished, worn down with age and cares, but retaining his mental faculties in perfection, are blessings which rarely attend advanced life. All these combined, have secured to his memory unusual respect and love here, and, no doubt, unmeasurable happiness hereafter.
««•I am sensible that none of these observations can have escaped you, that I can offer nothing which your own reason has