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Trumbull, Lyman (1813-1896) | Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

Name: Trumbull, Lyman (1813-1896)

Historical Note: Lyman Trumbull was born in Colchester, Connecticut on October 12, 1813 to Benjamin and Elizabeth (Mather) Trumbull. He attended Bacon Academy and began teaching school at the age of sixteen in Connecticut, 1829-1833.  He then taught school at Greenville, Georgia where he read law and was admitted to the bar in 1836.  In 1837 he moved to Belleville, Illinois and became active in state government by being elected to state legislature as a Democrat, 1840.  Trumbull was appointed Secretary of State, 1841-1842; Justice of State Supreme Court, 1848-1853.  As an opponent of slavery Trumbull joined the Republican Party in 1854 and became a United States Senator from Illinois, 1855-1873.  He resumed practice of law in Chicago but then in 1880 he tried as a Democrat for Governor of Illinois but was unsuccessful.   Trumbull accomplished great things for blacks as a lawyer.  One case was Jarrot v. Jarrot which he won.  The case granted freedom to all French black slaves and their descendants.  In 1862 he favored new bills that opposed black slavery, passing a bill ending slavery in District of Columbia, which was amended, allowing blacks to testify in federal court and supported a bill which forbade the use of the Union Army to return runaway slaves to their owners.  In 1864, Trumbull worked with another Senator and created the Freedman’s Bureau to help blacks in housing and later education.  He also voted for the first reconstruction act that created a new voters list that included African Americans.  Trumbull’s most prominent legislative achievement was his proposal of the 13th Amendment originally written by Senator John Henderson.  The 13th Amendment amended the United States Constitution so that slavery and servitude was illegal and it gave Congress the power to enforce it.  Trumbull was also a leading supporter of the Civil Rights Bill, 1866, that was designed to protect freed slaves form Southern Black Codes.Trumbull was one of seven Republicans who broke party ranks and voted against the conviction of President Johnson during his impeachment trial in the Senate.  Trumbull was dubious about the legitimacy of the impeachment process, had fears that it would ultimately hurt the Republican Party politically and was contemptuous of Benjamin Wade, who was next in line for the Presidency.  In 1872 he joined other Liberal Republicans in supporting Horace Greeley’s presidential candidacy against the reelection of President Grant.He married Julia Jayne (d. Aug. 16, 1868) in June of 1843.  Her father was Dr. Gershom Jayne of Springfield. They had four children together.  His second marriage was to Mary Ingraham, on November 3, 1877, with whom he had two daughters, Alma and Mae.  Only one son survived Trumbull in death.  He died June 25, 1896 in Chicago.

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