Jonathan Trumbull's Choice

Jonathan Trumbull's Choice

“…they are most firmly resolved to defend their rights and privileges to the last extremeity”

                                              -Governor Jonathan Trumbull to Thomas Gage, April 28, 1775

Colonial Governors

At the outset of the American Revolution, the colonial governors sided with the Britain.  

Although they were elected by the colonists, they served at the pleasure of the King, and there is little doubt they thought it their duty to take actions in the best interest of His Majesty.

As the rebellion began, the governors dissolved their colonial assemblies.  This forced the colonists to form independent, extralegal governing bodies.  These organizations took the lead in creating militia units and assigning military positions for the Revolution.

These events unfolded across America, with one important exception…


Jonathan Trumbull had taken over as Governor of Connecticut in 1769 when his predecessor passed away.  He was admired and respected by his constituents.

When hostilities broke out in Lexington and Concord, the other colonial governors began dissolving their assemblies. 

Jonathan Trumbull hesitated.

Massachusetts Military Governor Thomas Gage wrote to Trumbull requesting assistance in suppressing the rebellion.  He needed men and supplies.

Trumbull took a revolutionary step…he did not dissolve his legislature.

Instead, he allowed them to meet.  They resolved to have Trumbull contact Gage and demand to know what actions he was taking to cease the fighting.

The Letter

Connecticut Governor Johnathan Trumbull had a decision to make.  Was his duty to uphold the wishes of his King or the wishes of his constituents?

Trumbull was the only colonial governor to side with the people of his State.

He wrote to Gage regarding the events in Massachusetts. 

Trumbull was polite but firm.  He demanded to know what was going to be done to restore peace and prosperity to the colonies.  Trumbull wanted answers for why the British were fortifying Boston.  He was curious why soldiers were going through the countryside taking ammunition and weapons.

Jonathan Trumbull was asking revolutionary questions.


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