Jonathan Trumbull—born on 12 October 1710, at Lebanon, Conn.—graduated from Harvard College in 1727 and returned to Lebanon to prepare for the ministry. After the death of his brother Joseph, who had been their father's business associate, he joined his father in business in 1731. Trumbull soon made a name for himself in commerce, establishing direct trade relationships with Great Britain instead of dealing through intermediaries in Boston or New York, as most Connecticut merchants had done. His business acumen enabled his enterprises to flourish, until an unexplained reversal in 1766 threw his firm into virtual bankruptcy.
While engaged in commercial ventures, he was active in politics and eventually rose to be speaker of the Connecticut General Assembly. He advanced to the Deputy Governorship in 1766 and served in that capacity for three and one-half years. With the death of Governor William Pitkin in October 1769, Trumbull became the governor of the colony. During the decade between the Stamp Act and the Battle of Lexington, while tensions increased between the 13 colonies and Great Britain and war clouds thickened over English settlements in North America, Trumbull staunchly supported colonial rights.
Trumbull’s major contribution to the Continental cause, though, lay in harnessing his business skill to the pressing task of providing war material for the Continental Army. He made Connecticut a primary source for supplies for General Washington's troops, assuring them a somewhat steady—-if sparse—flow of food, clothing, and munitions.
Late in the war, a whispering campaign, later determined to probably have been started by the British in order to discredit him, weakened his political position in his home state. While completely vindicated by a legislative investigation of his administration in January 1782, Trumbull continued to lose popularity in Connecticut because of his controversial, unpopular plan for half-pay for disbanded officers from the Continental Army.
Wearied by political life, Trumbull retired from public life in May 1784 and devoted the remainder of his life to the study of theology. Trumbull died on 17 August 1785. Bolstered by his unshakable faith that "the Lord reigneth," he had substantially aided the Continental cause during the War for Independence.
(SlpW.: t. 400; a. 18 12-pdrs.; cpl. 220)
The third Trumbull—an 18-gun sloop-of-war whose construction was financed by public subscription of the citizens of Norwich, Conn.—was apparently begun in mid-1799, under the direction of Naval Agent Joseph Howland. Commanded by Master Commandant David Jewett, Trumbull was apparently completed early the following year and, after fitting out, departed New London, Conn., in late March 1800. She joined Charlotte at New York and escorted the heavily-laden provision ship to the West Indies where she replenished the American squadron operating against the French in that vicinity.
Soon after her arrival in April, Trumbull began patrolling on station, ever alert for French merchantmen and warships as she protected American merchantmen in the area. She captured the armed French schooner Peggie in early May. On 3 August, Trumbull took the 10-gun French schooner Vengeance. Among the 130 people on board the prize were women and children and several officers of one of the rival factions in the civil war then raging on the island, Hispanola. The following day, the sloop captured another Fench vessel; one which is variously recorded as Tulipe, Tullie, or Cullie.
Ordered home with Vengeance as a prize, Trumbull arrived at New London late in the summer. After quick repairs there, Trumbull returned to her patrol station off Santo Domingo in October 1800, transporting Navy Agent Thomas T. Gantt to St. Kitts to relieve Thomas Clarkson.
Trumbull subsequently cruised off Puerto Rico for a time before she returned north in the spring of 1801. Arriving at New York, Trumbull was sold later that year; and her crew was discharged.