August 17

This Day in History

American Revolution

Aug 17, 1785:

Connecticut Patriot Jonathan Trumbull dies

On this day in 1785, Jonathan Trumbull, governor of both the colony and state of Connecticut, dies in Lebanon, Connecticut, where he is buried.

Trumbull was born in 1710 in Watertown, Connecticut, and studied for the ministry at Harvard College, gaining his B.A. in 1727. After studying with Reverend Solomon Williams in Lebanon, he collected his M.A. and a license to preach at Colchester, Connecticut, in 1730. Despite these qualifications, he joined his father as a merchant in 1731, becoming more deeply involved in the family business after his brother was lost at sea in 1732. Soon after, he developed an interest in politics, becoming a delegate to the Connecticut General Assembly (1733-1740). In 1739, he was elected the assembly's speaker of the house and became a lieutenant colonel in the colonial militia.

Jonathan and Faith Trumbull had six children between 1735 and 1755; their four sons and two sons-in-law all followed in Jonathan Trumbull's patriotic footsteps. Their first born, Joseph, was the first commissary general of the Continental Army and their second born, Jonathan Jr., served as governor of Connecticut during the critical early years of the young republic. Their daughter Faith married Patriot General Jedidiah Huntington and another daughter, Mary, married William Williams, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. The Trumbulls' third son, David, was the commissary of the colony of Connecticut and the baby of the family, John, earned fame as the "Painter of the American Revolution," with a series of patriotic-themed paintings, including a rendering of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

When John was 10 years old, his father became the deputy governor of the colony of Connecticut. Three years later, in 1769, upon his predecessor's death, he took over the governorship. Trumbull served continuously in his capacity as governor of first the colony and then the state of Connecticut until 1784, the only governor to do so. For his efforts, Trumbull received honorary doctorates of law from both Yale University and the University of Edinburgh.

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