‘Brother Jonathan’s’ Prayer for Washington


13th July 1775—Lebanon [Conn.]

Suffer me to join in Congratulating you, on your appointment to be General and Commander in Chief of the Troops raised or to be raised for the Defence of American Liberty.

Men who have tasted of Freedom, and who have felt their personal Rights, are not easily taught to bear with encroachments on either, or brought to submit to oppression. Virtue ought always to be made the Object of Government: Justice is firm and permanent.

His Majesty’s Ministers have artfully induced the Parliament to join in their Measures, to prosecute the dangerous and increasing Difference between Great Britain and these Colonies with Rigour and Military Force: whereby the latter are driven to an absolute necessity to defend their Rights and Properties by raising Forces for their Security.

The Honorable Congress have proclaimed a Fast to be Observed by the Inhabitants of all the English Colonies on this Continent, to stand before the Lord in one Day, with public Humiliation; Fasting and Prayer, to deplore our many sins, to offer up our joint supplications to God, for forgiveness, and for His merciful Interposition for us in this Day of unnatural Darkness and Distress.

They have with one united voice appointed you to the high station you possess—The Supreme Director of all Events hath caused a wonderful Union of Hearts and Counsels to subsist amongst Us.

Now therefore be strong and very courageous, may the God of the Armies of Israel, shower down the blessings of His Divine Providence on You, give you Wisdom and Fortitude, cover your Head in the Day of Battle and Danger, add Success—convince our Enemies of their mistaken measures—and that all their attempts to deprive these Colonies of their inestimable constitutional Rights and Liberties are injurious and Vain.

I am, with great Esteem & Regard Sir, Your most Obedient humble Servant

Jonathan Trumbull

Recommended: George Washington’s Sacred Fire

TML Editor’s Note: Jonathan Trumbull (1710-1785), was deputy governor of Connecticut (1766-69), governor of Connecticut (1769-1784) and a friend and advisor of General George Washington throughout the War for Independence. During the War, when the American Army was in desperate need of men, food, clothing, shoes, and munitions, Washington could rely on Jonathan Trumbull to the point that the State of Connecticut earned the nickname, “The Provisions State.”  Trumbull, besides serving as Connecticut Governor (and merchant), was also ex-officiou chairman of the Council of Safety. From 1775-1783 this council held more than eleven hundred meetings in Trumbull’s store in Lebanon, which came to be known as the “War Office.” Here came many distinguished officers of the Continental Army and French Allies. During these meetings it was said that General Washington, when in doubt as to the course of action, would remark, “Let us consult Brother Jonathan.” Trumbull was also a licensed minister.

Besides his other duties, in the Spring of 1778, Trumbull served as Paymaster General for the Continental Army’s Northern Department. Later, due to the death of his mother he felt the need to resign from that post. Consistent with his character and true patriot spirit, Trumbull requested that all back pay due him be distributed among the soldiers of the Northern Department.

Washington rated Jonathan Trumbull among “the first of the patriots.” Today, he remains one of Connecticut’s best-known governors, and many historians regard him as one of its greatest leaders. He was the only one of the thirteen colonial governors to support the Revolution at its beginning, and one of only two who remained in office throughout the duration of the war. Thus, he became Connecticut’s last colonial governor and its first state governor.

Earlier in life, Trumbull had graduated from Harvard and was a licensed minister at age 17. In his last months of his life, after retiring from the governorship (in May of 1784), Trumbull labored on paying off his debts (much of which were in result of his support for the Revolution) and the study of Hebrew and theology. On August 17, 1785, Jonathan Trumbull, only 15 months into his retirement, suffered a stroke and passed on to his reward. SF.

Letter Source: The Papers of George Washington, To General George Washington from Jonathan Trumbull, 13 July 1775. TML Editor’s Note compiled and adapted from various online historical resources..

They Were Believers is researched, compiled, and edited (with occasional commentary and explanatory notes) by Steve Farrell, Founder and Editor In Chief of The Moral Liberal. In this letter, I have modernized some of the spelling and improved the formatting. Copyright © 2012-2015 Steve Farrell.