George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Trumbull, 29 November 1789

From John Trumbull

New York 29th Novr 1789.

Sir

Had not the subject been accidentally introduc’d in the conversation with which you was pleas’d to honor me this Evening, I should never have thought of mentioning that any application from me bore a part in procurring to Mr Jefferson the civilities wch He receiv’d from the Custom House in England.1

But since it has been mention’d you will pardon my enclosing copies of the Letters which I wrote on the occasion to Mr Pitt & which I hope will not meet your disapprobation. I am with all possible Respect sir Your Obligd & Humble servant

Jno. Trumbull

ALS, DLC:GW.

John Trumbull (1756–1843) was the youngest son of Gov. Jonathan Trumbull of Connecticut and the brother of GW’s wartime aide Jonathan Trumbull, Jr. John Trumbull also served GW as an aide-de-camp but after a short and somewhat unsuccessful stint moved to active military service and, in the intervals between assignments, continued to study painting. In 1780 he was able, in spite of the war, to make arrangements to study painting with Benjamin West in London. In late 1780 he was briefly imprisoned in London on suspicion of treason. After his release he remained in London, with short interruptions, continuing his work with West and producing a series of paintings dealing with the events of the American Revolution. In 1787 and 1788 he spent some time in Paris, painting French officers associated with the American Revolution. During this time he usually stayed with Jefferson, and shortly before returning to the United States, Jefferson offered Trumbull the post of secretary of legation in Paris (Jefferson to Trumbull, 21 May 1789, in Boyd, Jefferson Papers, description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950–. description ends 15:143–44). In the summer of 1789 Trumbull spent some time in England, making preparations for his passage to America. He arrived in New York City on 26 Nov. (Trumbull, Autobiography, description begins Theodore Sizer, ed. The Autobiography of Colonel John Trumbull: Patriot-Artist, 1756–1843. 1953. Reprint. New York, 1970. description ends 163).

1Shortly before he sailed from England, Trumbull made extensive arrangements for Jefferson’s voyage to the United States. For his good offices in Jefferson’s behalf, see Boyd, Jefferson Papers, description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950–. description ends 15:515–17. Trumbull enclosed in his letter to GW a copy of his letter to William Pitt, 24 Sept. 1789, requesting “that orders may be sent down to the Custom House at Cowes, to suffer the Baggage of Mr Jefferson to pass from the Packet in which He will arrive from France on board the Ship in which He will embark for America, without being search’d or open’d,” and a second letter, 10 Oct. 1789, thanking Pitt for having “the goodness to comply with the request” (DLC:GW). See also Boyd, Jefferson Papers, description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950–. description ends 15:517–18.

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