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Benjamin Trumbull, The Years at Yale 1755-1759

  • Sheldon S. Cohen (a1)


The reverend Benjamin Trumbull has generally been overshadowed by his more renowned relatives. His father's first cousin was Jonathan Trumbull, the Revolutionary War governor of Connecticut whose son, John, became one of America's most distinguished artists. Yet, notwithstanding such illustrious kinsmen, Benjamin Trumbull's long and diversified career also formed a prominent part of New England's past. He was born in Hebron, Connecticut, on December 19, 1735, and in his adult years served as both a chaplain and a soldier during the American Revolution, wrote a noteworthy history of colonial Connecticut, and, for sixty years prior to his death in 1820, he often influenced the religious atmosphere in his native state from his Congregational pulpit in North Haven. In all these differing roles, Benjamin Trumbull, like many of his well-known contemporaries, felt the durable effects of a colonial higher education.



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1. Dumas, Malone (ed.), Dictionary of American Biography (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1936), XIX, 78; Benjamin Trumbull's Yale Diary, The Benjamin Trumbull Papers, Box 1, Yale University Library. (The Trumbull diary is the library's most lengthy personal account of undergraduate life in the period before the beginning of the American Revolution.)

2. Morgan, Edmund S., The Gentle Puritan, A Life of Ezra Stiles, 1727-1795 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1962), pp. 2242; Tucker, Louis L., Puritan Protagonist, President Thomas Clap of Yale College (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1962), pp. 114-32.

3. Dexter, Franklin B., Biographical Sketches of the Graduate of Yale College, with Annals of the College History (New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1896), II, pp. 218.

4. Hoadly, Charles J. (ed.), The Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut (Hartford, 1850-1890), IX, 113–19; Dexter, Franklin B., “An Historical Study of the Powers and Duties of the Presidency in Yale College,” American Antiquarian Society, Proceedings, XII, No.1, (1903), pp. 34 ff.; Tucker, , op. cit., pp. 73-74.

5. Clap, Thomas, A Catalogue of the Library of Yale-College in New Haven (New London, 1743), pp. 144; Clap, Thomas, A Catalogue of the Most Valuable Books in the Library of Yale-College in New Haven (New Haven, 1755), pp. 1-40; Tucker, , op. cit., pp. 88-90.

6. Clap, Thomas, The Annals or History of Yale-College in New Haven in the Colony of Connecticut (New Haven, 1766), pp. 5455; see also, Dexter, , Yale Graduates, II, pp. 71-566.

7. Tucker, , op. cit. , pp. 175200.

8. Dexter, Franklin B. (ed.), Extracts from the Itineraries and Other Miscellanies of Ezra Stiles 1755-1794 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1916), p. 492; Dexter, , Yale Graduates, II, 357.

9. Dexter, Franklin B., “Student Life at Yale in the Early Days of Connecticut Hall,” New Haven Colony Historical Society, Transactions , VII (1907), 297.

10. Dexter, Franklin B., “On Some Social Distinctions at Harvard and Yale Before the Revolution,” American Antiquarian Society, Proceedings , IX, Part 1, (1894); Dexter, , Yale Graduates, II, 567-68. Trumbull's class was the largest to attend Yale College before the American Revolution.

11. Trumbull, Benjamin to Trumbull, Benoni, November 24, 1755, Benjamin Trumbull Papers, Box 1, Yale University Library.

12. Cowie, Alexander, “Educational Problems at Yale College in the Eighteenth Century,” Tercentenary Commission of the State of Connecticut, Publications , LV, (1936), 1820; Dexter, , Student Life at Yale, pp. 6-7; Morgan, , The Gentle Puritan, p. 43; see also, Morgan, Edmund S., “Ezra Stiles, the Education of a Yale Man 1742-46,” Huntington Library Quarterly, XVII (May 1954), pp. 254-55; Tucker, , op. cit., pp. 232-36.

13. Clap, , Annals of Yale College , pp. 8182; Morgan, , The Gentle Puritan, p. 47; Cowie, , op. cit., pp. 24-26.

14. Benjamin Trumbull's Yale Diary, Trumbull Papers, Box 1.

15. Dexter, , Yale Graduates , II, 35.

16. Trumbull, Yale Diary. For the biography of Daggett, see Dexter, , Yale Graduates , II, 153–67.

17. Trumbull, , Yale Diary.

18. Dexter, Franklin B., “New Haven in 1784,” A Selection from the Miscellaneous Papers of Fifty Years (New Haven: Tuttle, Morehouse & Taylor, Co., 1918), pp. 116–22; Connecticut Colony Public Records, X, 617.

19. Dexter, , Yale Graduates , II, 9.

20. Trumbull, , Yale Diary.

21. Ibid.

22. Trumbull, , Book of Accounts, Trumbull Papers, Box 1.

23. Ibid.

24. An Oration Celebrating the Reverend Mr. Goodrich, Late Tutor of Yale College in New Haven, Trumbull Papers, Box 1; Trumbull, Yale Diary.

25. Benjamin Trumbull, Book of Argumentations, Trumbull Papers, Box 1; Clap, , Annals of Yale College , pp. 8384.

26. Clap, , Annals of Yale College , p. 82; Morgan, , The Gentle Puritan, pp. 48-51, 54-55; Tucker, , op. cit, pp. 77-78, 119.

27. Trumbull, , Book of Argumentations.

28. Trumbull, , Book of Accounts; Trumbull, , Yale Diary.

29. Dexter, , Yale Graduates , II, 441.

30. Tucker, , op. cit. , pp. 183–87.

31. Dexter, , Yale Graduates , II, 442–43; Tucker, , op. cit., pp. 189-90. Noyes continued to serve on the Corporation until his death in June, 1761.

32. Clap, , Annals of Yale College , p. 81.

33. Benjamin Trumbull, Book of Astronomical Calculations, Trumbull Papers, Box 1; Tucker, , op cit. , pp. 8491.

34. Morgan, , The Gentle Puritan , p. 386.

35. Trumbull, , Yale Diary; The Connecticut Gazette , 17561759.

36. Trumbull, , Book of Accounts.

37. Morgan, Edmund S., The Puritan Family (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1966), pp. 6587; Trumbull, Benjamin, Letters to Trumbull, Benoni, Trumbull Papers, Box 1.

38. Trumbull, Benoni to Trumbull, Benjamin, January 22, 1758, Trumbull Papers, Box 1.

39. Clap, , Annals of Yale College , p. 81; Morgan, , The Gentle Puritan, p. 47.

40. Dexter, , Yale Graduates , II, 565–66; Tucker, , op. cit., pp. 156-58.

41. Trumbull Papers, Box 1.

42. Dexter, , Yale Graduates , II, 507.

43. Gale, Benjamin, A Letter to a Member of the Lower House of the Assembly of the Colony of Connecticut. … (New Haven, 1759) pp. 123; Dexter, , Yale Graduates, II, 564-65; Tucker, , op. cit., pp. 211-13.

44. Trumbull, , Yale Diary.

45. Connecticut Gazette , September 15, 1759. Benjamin Trumbull's Yale Diploma. Trumbull Papers, Box 1.

46. Morgan, , The Gentle Puritan , pp. 361–64. At this time, because of the dispute between President Clap and Noyes, the commencement ceremonies apparently were held on the campus rather than at the First Church on the New Haven Green.

47. Trumbull, , Yale Diary.

48. Dexter, , Yale Graduates , II, 568634.

49. Records of the Mutual Improvement Society of New Haven County. Trumbull Papers, Box 4.

50. Sprague, William B., Annals of the American Pulpit (New York: R. Carter Bros., 1857), I, 587.

51. Trumbull, Book of Argumentations; Storrs Lee, W., The Yankees of Connecticut (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, Inc., 1957), p. 44.


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