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  • Lyman Trumbull Collection

Lyman Trumbull was born in Colchester, Connecticut on October 12, 1813, to Benjamin and Elizabeth (Mather) Trumbull. In 1837 he moved to Belleville, Illinois, and won election to the state legislature as a Democrat in 1840.  Trumbull was appointed Secretary of State from 1841-1842 and later a justice of the State Supreme Court from 1848-1853.  As an opponent of slavery Trumbull joined the Republican Party in 1854 and ran successfully against Abraham Lincoln to become a United States Senator from Illinois. Trumbull remained in the United States Senate until 1873 after which he resumed practice of law in Chicago. In 1880 he tried as a Democrat for Governor of Illinois but was unsuccessful.                       

While in the United States Senate he favored new bills opposing 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 to create the Freedman’s Bureau to help blacks with 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 1866 Civil Rights Bill 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. 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 and they had four children.  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.

The finding aid for the Lyman Trumbull Family Papers, 1821-1917 at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library may be found at

A related finding aid containing from Lyman Trumbull's father and other family members may be found in the Benjamin Trumbull Family Papers, 1775-1896 at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. The link to the finding aid is

Photographs in this collection include several portraits of Lyman Trumbull taken throughout his life.

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