Jonathan Trumbull: Counselor & Governor

Instructor: Nate Sullivan

Nate Sullivan holds a M.A. in History and a M.Ed. He is an adjunct history professor, middle school history teacher, and freelance writer.

This lesson will discuss the life of the American patriot, Jonathan Trumbull, Jr. We will highlight his key achievements, including his roles as an aide to General Washington and as the governor of Connecticut.

Who Was Jonathan Trumbull, Jr.?

When we study the American Revolution we often learn about people like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin. However, there were thousands of other men and women who played important roles in this struggle. Some were completely 'ordinary' and their names have been lost to history, such as the many men who fought in the Revolutionary War as low-ranking soldiers. Others served in government in a variety of ways and their names and legacies have been recorded, but we typically don't hear much about them. Jonathan Trumbull, Jr. (1740-1809) is one such character. He was an American patriot who served as a solider in the Continental Army and held a number of important positions, including being an aide to General George Washington, the second Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the governor of Connecticut. Let's learn more about this figure of the American Revolution!

Jonathan Trumbull, Jr.
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Background and Early Life

Jonathan Trumbull, Jr. was the second son of the Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., who was a pretty interesting character himself. Jonathan Trumbull, Sr. was serving as the royal governor of Connecticut when the Revolutionary War broke out. Remarkably, he refused to take sides with the British and took up the patriot cause, making him the only governor to serve as both a British royal governor and an American governor.

Jonathan Trumbull, Sr.
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Jonathan, Jr. was born in Lebanon, Connecticut in 1740. He had five siblings, which was not uncommon during this time. Jonathan graduated from Harvard College in 1759 and then began his career in public service and politics. He first served on local committees and later in the state legislature.

Role In the Revolutionary War and Aide To General Washington

When the Revolutionary War broke out, young Jonathan enlisted in the Continental Army as a 'pay master,' in which he managed funds. His rank was colonel. He soon came to the attention of General George Washington, who requested that he serve in the highly-esteemed position of aide-de-camp, which was basically like a secretary or personal adviser. This was a very important position in which men would handle Washington's most important business. Alexander Hamilton was another famous aide-de-camp to Washington.

Alexander Hamilton, another aide-de-camp to General Washington.
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