John Trumbull (poet)
John Trumbull was an American poet.
BiographyTrumbull was born in what is now Watertown, Connecticut
Watertown is a town in Litchfield County, Connecticut, United States. The population was 21,661 at the 2000 census. The zip code for Watertown is 06795. It is a suburb of Waterbury. It borders the towns of Woodbury, Middlebury, Litchfield, Plymouth, Bethlehem, and Thomaston.-Founding History:More...
, where his father was a Congregational preacher. At the age of seven he passed his entrance examinations at Yale
Yale University is a private, Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States...
, but did not enter until 1763; he graduated in 1767, studied law there, and in 1771–1773 was a tutor. In 1773 he was admitted to the bar
A bar association is a professional body of lawyers. Some bar associations are responsible for the regulation of the legal profession in their jurisdiction; others are professional organizations dedicated to serving their members; in many cases, they are both...
, in 1773–1774 practiced law in Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...
, working in the law office of John Adams
John Adams was an American lawyer, statesman, diplomat and political theorist. A leading champion of independence in 1776, he was the second President of the United States...
, and after 1774 practiced in New Haven, Connecticut
New Haven, Connecticut
New Haven is the second-largest city in Connecticut and the sixth-largest in New England. According to the 2010 Census, New Haven's population increased by 5.0% between 2000 and 2010, a rate higher than that of the State of Connecticut, and higher than that of the state's five largest cities, and...
. He was state attorney in 1789, a member of the Connecticut Assembly in 1792 and 1800, and a judge
A judge is a person who presides over court proceedings, either alone or as part of a panel of judges. The powers, functions, method of appointment, discipline, and training of judges vary widely across different jurisdictions. The judge is supposed to conduct the trial impartially and in an open...
of the Superior Court
In common law systems, a superior court is a court of general competence which typically has unlimited jurisdiction with regard to civil and criminal legal cases...
in 1801–1819. The last six years of his life were spent in Detroit, Michigan
Detroit is the major city among the primary cultural, financial, and transportation centers in the Metro Detroit area, a region of 5.2 million people. As the seat of Wayne County, the city of Detroit is the largest city in the U.S. state of Michigan and serves as a major port on the Detroit River...
, where he died.
While studying at Yale he had contributed in 1769–1770 ten essays, called "The Meddler", imitating The Spectator
The Spectator (1711)
The Spectator was a daily publication of 1711–12, founded by Joseph Addison and Richard Steele in England after they met at Charterhouse School. Eustace Budgell, a cousin of Addison's, also contributed to the publication. Each 'paper', or 'number', was approximately 2,500 words long, and the...
, to the Boston Chronicle
The Boston Chronicle was an American colonial newspaper published briefly from December 21, 1767 until 1770 in Boston, Massachusetts. The publishers, John Mein and John Fleeming, were both from Scotland. The Chronicle was a Loyalist paper in the time before the American Revolution...
, and in 1770 similar essays, signed " The Correspondent" to the Connecticut Journal and New Haven Post Boy. While a tutor he wrote his first satire
Satire is primarily a literary genre or form, although in practice it can also be found in the graphic and performing arts. In satire, vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement...
in verse, The Progress of Dulness (1772–1773), an attack in three poems on educational methods of his time. His great poem, which ranks him with Philip Freneau and Francis Hopkinson
Francis Hopkinson , an American author, was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence as a delegate from New Jersey. He later served as a federal judge in Pennsylvania...
as an American political satirist of the period of the War of Independence
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...
, was M'Fingal
McFingal: a modern epic poem. Or, The town-meeting is a mock epic poem written by American poet John Trumbull. This canto, about 1500 lines, contains some verses from Thomas Gage's Proclamation, published in the Connecticut Courant for the 7th and the 14th of August 1775; it portrays a Scottish...
, of which the first canto
The canto is a principal form of division in a long poem, especially the epic. The word comes from Italian, meaning "song" or singing. Famous examples of epic poetry which employ the canto division are Lord Byron's Don Juan, Valmiki's Ramayana , Dante's The Divine Comedy , and Ezra Pound's The...
, "The Town-Meeting", appeared in 1776 (dated 1775). After the war Trumbull was a rigid Federalist
Federalism (United States)
Federalism in the United States is the evolving relationship between U.S. state governments and the federal government of the United States. Since the founding of the country, and particularly with the end of the American Civil War, power shifted away from the states and towards the national...
, and with the "Hartford Wits
The Hartford Wits were a group of American writers centered around Yale University and flourished in the 1780s and 1790s. Mostly graduates of Yale, they were conservative federalists who attacked their political opponents with satirical verse...
" David Humphreys
David Humphreys (soldier)
David Humphreys was a American Revolutionary War colonel and aide de camp to George Washington, American minister to Portugal and then to Spain, entrepreneur who brought Merino sheep to America and member of the Connecticut state legislature...
, Joel Barlow
Joel Barlow was an American poet, diplomat and politician. In his own time, Barlow was well-known for the epic Vision of Columbus. Modern readers may be more familiar with "The Hasty Pudding"...
and Lemuel Hopkins, wrote the Anarchiad, a poem directed against the enemies of a firm central government.
- Trumbull Avenue in Detroit is named after him.
- John Trumbull Primary School in Watertown, CT
- M'Fingal Rd. in Watertown, CT was named after his poem.