CT’s RevWar Heritage
Elizabeth Alden ran a tavern that served military and political advisers visiting Governor Trumbull and the Council of Safety, as well as many soldiers, merchants, and citizens traveling the busy highway crossroads in Lebanon’s center.
Trumbull was born in Lebanon on October 10, 1710, the younger son of Joseph and Hannah (Higley) Trumbull. He graduated from Harvard with a B.A. in 1727 and after three years of study with the Reverend Solomon Williams of Lebanon, he was licensed to preach. By 1731 he was in business as a merchant with his father and older brother who died at sea in 1732. In 1735, he married Faith Robinson (1718-1780) of Duxbury, MA with whom he had six children.
A committed public servant, Trumbull served in local government, supported the local Congregational church, and helped established both a library and a school. In 1733 Lebanon elected Trumbull as delegate to the General Assembly and in 1740 the colony appointed him as an Assistant in the upper house.
Trumbull strongly opposed the Stamp Act and, in 1765 with other Assistants, walked out of a meeting of the Governor’s Council when Governor Thomas Fitch took the oath to support the act. In 1766 Trumbull was elected deputy governor and in 1769 when William Pitkin died in office, Trumbull became governor. He served in this capacity until 1784, the only colonial governor to serve through the American Revolution.
During the War, Trumbull devoted himself to managing the state, commanding the state militia and navy, and providing support for the Continental and French armies. Having lost his wife, eldest son, and one daughter during the war years, Trumbull resigned his office in 1785 and died in Lebanon August 17, 1785.
David Bushnell, a Westbrook CT native and Yale graduate, was also an inventor who is credited with creating the first combat submarine. In February 1775, Bushnell approached Gov. Jonathan Trumbull and the Council of Safety with his plans for a pedal- and pump-powered submarine called TURTLE. Apparently the Council was sufficiently impressed with his plans to allocate resources for the development of the vessel.
On September 6, 1776 Ezra Lee of Lyme, CT attempted to use the TURTLE to attach explosive “torpedoes” to the hulls of British vessels in New York Harbor. His attempt was unsuccessful, but one of the charges exploded in the East River, marking the onset of a new kind of warfare.
The TURTLE eventually sank when a sloop carrying it was sunk by the British. David Bushnell later claimed to have recovered the submarine, but if so, the original has been lost to history. Numerous models and modern working versions of the TURTLE have been created, including one at the Connecticut River Museum.
Major Benjamin Tallmadge, classmate of Nathan Hale, commands a crew of 2nd CT Light Dragoons who row eight whaleboats across Long Island Sound to raid a British supply depot at Ft. George, Mastic, Long Island NY. Sgt. Elijah Churchill, from Newington CT leads one of three groups of men, who capture 300 prisoners and burn several supply vessels and more than 300 tons of hay. Thereafter, the British are forced to rely on fodder shipped from England.