Jonathan Trumbull Sends Good News to George Washington

Connecticut Gov. Jonathan Trumbull was the only colonial governor to side with the patriots during the American Revolution.

Jonathan Trumbull

Jonathan Trumbull

When Gen. Thomas Gage arrived in Boston in the spring of 1774, he wrote to Trumbull saying he was ready to cooperate ‘for the good of his Majesty’s service.’ Trumbull had other ideas. After the Battles of Concord and Lexington, Gage asked Trumbull for help. Trumbull replied that the British troops would ‘disgrace even barbarians’ and accused Gage of unprovoked attacks on his Majesty’s subjects.

George Washington called Jonathan Trumbull ‘the first of the patriots,’ frequently writing to him to send more men, food, cannon and the always-scarce gunpowder for the Continental Army.  Trumbull complied, earning Connecticut the nickname ‘The Provision State.’ Since the British had cut off trade routes to the Caribbean, Connecticut farmers had plenty of food and livestock to sell to the army.

Jonathan Trumbull Writes a Letter

In August 1775, Washington had taken command of the rebel troops in Cambridge, Mass., as the siege of Boston dragged on. Jonathan Trumbull wrote a letter from his home in Lebanon, Conn., to Washington.

Lebanon, August 11, 1775.

SIR: Yesterday twelve o’ clock received your letter by Major Johnson; immediately gave the necessary directions. Some companies I ordered to New-London, others to New-Haven; Colonel Webb, with the companies that way, if not marched, to take his station at Greenwich. Same day at eleven o’ clock, received a letter from Brigadier-General Wooster, dated the ninth, at the Oyster-Ponds on Long-Island; he had with him four hundred and fifty men, besides militia, designing to preserve the stock at that place. The ships were then plundering Gardiner’ s Island; the people on the island had left it. He applied to me for three hundred pounds of powder; before I had made my answer and order for the powder, which I gave not withstanding our exhausted condition,) on receipt of your’ s inserted an extract from it for his observation,

I am informed a quantity of powder for the camp is to be at Hartford this evening, and more to follow soon. We have none lately arrived, which is daily expected. I request your direction that of the next quantity that comes to Hartford, there may be lodged there so much as you shall judge expedient; if what is expected do arrive in the mean time, shall have no occasion to use your allowance.

I am, most respectfully, Sir, your most obedient very humble servant,


His Excellency General Washington.

With thanks to American Archives at Northern Illinois University Libraries.  Photo: Detail from ‘Jonathan Trumbull engraving circa 1855’ courtesy Yale University Manuscripts & Archives Digital Images Database. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.


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