Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Trumbull, Benjamin

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TRUMBULL, Benjamin, historian, b. in Hebron, Conn., 19 Dec., 1735; d. in North Haven, Conn., 2 Feb., 1820. He was graduated at Yale in 1759, and received his theological education under Rev. Eleazer Wheelock, who delivered his ordination sermon in 1760, commending him to the people of North Haven as “not a sensual, sleepy, lazy, dumb dog, that could not bark back.” He continued in that charge for nearly sixty years, his preaching being interrupted only by the Revolution, in which he served both as a volunteer and as chaplain. After the war he published a pamphlet sustaining the claim of Connecticut to the Susquehanna purchase, which influenced the decision of congress in her favor. Yale gave him the degree of D. D. in 1796. He published “Twelve Discourses on the Divine Origin of the Holy Scriptures” (Hartford, 1790); “General History of the United States of America” (3 vols., Boston, 1765-1810); and “Complete History of Connecticut from 1630 till 1713” (2 vols., Hartford, 1797). The manuscript collections from which this history is compiled are in the Yale library. —

Appletons' Trumbull Benjamin - Lyman.jpg
Appletons' Trumbull Benjamin - Lyman signature.jpg

Benjamin's grandson, Lyman, senator, b. in Colchester, Conn., 12 Oct., 1813, began to teach at sixteen years of age, and at twenty was at the head of an academy in Georgia, where he studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1837. He removed to Belleville, Ill., and in 1841 was secretary of the state of Illinois. In 1848 he was elected one of the justices of the state supreme court. In 1854 he was chosen to represent his district in congress, but before his term began he was elected U. S. senator, and took his seat, 4 March, 1855. Until that time he had affiliated with the Democratic party, but on the question of slavery he took a decided stand against his party and his colleague, Stephen A. Douglas, especially on the question of “popular sovereignty.” In 1860 he was brought forward by some Republicans as a candidate for president. He had no desire to be so considered, and when his friend, Abraham Lincoln, was nominated, he labored with earnestness for his election. In 1861 he was re-elected to the U. S. senate, in which he did good service for the National cause, and was one of the first to propose the amendment to the Federal constitution for the abolition of slavery. He was one of the five Republican senators that voted for acquittal in the impeachment trial of Andrew Johnson, and afterward he acted with the Democratic party, whose candidate for governor of Illinois he was in 1880. Since his retirement from congress he has had a lucrative law-practice in Chicago.