Born October 12, 1710, the son of a prosperous farmer and merchant, Jonathan Trumbull graduated from Harvard College in 1727. While he was studying for the ministry, the death of his older brother forced him to enter the family business. He was elected to the 1773 colonial assembly, later serving as governor's assistant. Believing the Stamp Act unconstitutional, Trumbull refused to take the oath to enforce it. He became chief justice and, in 1769, governor of the colony.
Jonathan Trumbull was the only colonial governor to support the Revolution. A friend of Washington, he lent his support to the recruitment of soldiers and the acquisition of supplies. Trumbull resigned his office in 1784 after 50 years of public service. His patriotic farewell address to the legislature, "Declining Any Further Election to Public Office," pled for a strong financial and political union.
Honorary degrees were conferred upon Trumbull by Yale University and the University of Edinburgh. His eldest son, Joseph, was commissary general of the Continental Army and died during the war; his son Jonathan was confidential secretary to General Washington, second Speaker of the House of Representatives, and governor of Connecticut; his son John was the artist whose four paintings hang in the Capitol Rotunda; and his daughter Mary married William Williams, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Trumbull died on August 17, 1785, and is buried in Lebanon, Connecticut.