George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., 13 July 1775

From Jonathan Trumbull, Sr.

Lebanon [Conn.] 13th July 1775


Suffer me to join in Congratulating you, on your appointment to be General and Commander in Chief of the Troops raised or to be raised for the Defence of American Liberty.

Men who have tasted of Freedom, and who have felt their personal Rights, are not easily taught to bear with encroachments on either, or brought to submit to oppression. Virtue ought always to be made the Object of Government: Justice is firm and permanent.

His Majesty’s Ministers have artfully induced the Parliament to join in their Measures, to prosecute the dangerous and increasing Difference between Great Britain and these Colonies with Rigour and Military Force: whereby the latter are driven to an absolute necessity to defend their Rights and Properties by raising Forces for their Security.

The Honorable Congress have proclaimed a Fast to be Observed by the Inhabitants of all the English Colonies on this Continent, to stand before the Lord in one Day, with public Humiliation; Fasting and Prayer, to deplore our many sins, to offer up our joint supplications to God, for forgiveness, and for His merciful Interposition for us in this Day of unnatural Darkness and Distress.1

They have with one united voice appointed you to the high station you possess—The supream Director of all Events hath caused a wonderful Union of Hearts and Counsells to subsist amongst Us.

Now therefore be strong and very courageous, may the God of the Armies of Israel, shower down the blessings of His Divine Providence on You, give you Wisdom and Fortitude, cover your Head in the Day of Battle and Danger, add Success—convince our Enemies of their mistaken measures—and that all their attempts to deprive these Colonies of their inestimable constitutional Rights and Liberties are injurious and Vain. I am, with great Esteem & Regard Sir Your most Obedient humble Servant

Jonth. Trumbull

ALS, DLC:GW; LB, Ct: Trumbull Papers.

Jonathan Trumbull, Sr. (1710–1785), of Lebanon, Conn., the only colonial governor to side with the Patriots, served as Connecticut’s chief executive from 1769 to 1784. The religious tone of this letter stems from his preparation for the ministry as a young man. The death of an elder brother kept him from the pulpit because he felt obliged to replace that brother as his father’s business associate. Knowledgeable in the ways of commerce and politics as well as theology, Trumbull successfully managed the flow of food, clothing, and munitions to the Continental army from his colony throughout the war. Despite occasional misunderstandings, GW and Trumbull established a close working relationship with one another, and GW came to hold the governor in great esteem. Three of Governor Trumbull’s sons also served with distinction in the Revolution. Joseph Trumbull (1738–1778) became the first commissary general of the Continental army on 31 July 1775. Jonathan Trumbull, Jr. (1740–1809), was Continental paymaster general for the northern department from 1775 to 1778, comptroller of the treasury from 1778 to 1779, and GW’s military secretary from 1781 to 1783. John Trumbull (1756–1843), an artist, acted as an aide-de-camp to GW between 27 July and 15 Aug. 1775 and later served as a brigade major and as a deputy adjutant general.

1On 12 June 1775 the Continental Congress recommended 20 July “as a day of public humiliation, fasting and prayer” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 2:87; General Orders, 16 July 1775).

Index Entries