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Guide to the John Trumbull Papers
1775 - 1842
 MS 639, MS 2561

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400

© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Ashley Todd

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on December 14, 2011

Scope and Contents note

This collection is comprised of the correspondence and papers of John Trumbull and various family members, and five handwritten volumes, which include correspondence, receipts, shipping inventories and notes. The papers belong to MS 2561 and the bound volumes belong to MS 639. John Trumbull's correspondence dates from 1776-1842. It covers various topics, such as his artwork and exhibitions, his work as a commissioner for the Jay Treaty, the unrest in Europe resulting from the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars, his property in Genesee County, NY, and his Plan for Encouragement of the Arts. Primary correspondents include Anthony De Paggi, with whom Trumbull discussed subscriptions, etchings and engravings of his work; his brother Jonathan, Jr., with whom he discussed the state of affairs in Europe; and his wife Sarah, with whom he discussed his travels across the East Coast of the US for exhibitions of his artwork. A few of the letters are written in French.

The earliest of the volumes, Account Books (vol. 1), contains three smaller volumes entitled "Account of Sales and Receipts, 1790-1794" "Trumbull's Subscription Book, Boston 1790-1792" and "Exhibition of the Resignation of General Washington, 1824." The first two note the subscriptions for engravings made from his paintings and the third records the register of visitors, income and expenses pertaining to the 1824 exhibition of his painting the Resignation of General Washington that traveled throughout northeastern United States.

The earlier of two Letter Books (vol. 2) spans from 1796-1802 and deals primarily with Trumbull's work as commissioner charged with settling the 7th article of the Jay Treaty between the U.S. and Great Britain. Other topics include general discussions of politics, America's declining relationship with France and of Trumbull's business affairs. Correspondents include George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Oliver Wolcott, John Jay, Rufus King, and his brother Jonathan Trumbull. The second Letter Book (vol. 5) spans from 1810-17, with the bulk of the letters occurring between 1811-13 when Trumbull was in England. A primary topic in this volume is the War of 1812, particularly the impressment issue, including one letter to the Prime Minister, Spencer Perceval, another to Sir Robert Liston, and one which was published in the Morning Post. Other letters deal with business and personal affairs, including his detention in Britain as an enemy alien, and the career in the British Army of his natural son, John Trumbull Ray. There are also letters discussing American politics, and a strong attack on DeWitt Clinton. Correspondents include Rufus King, James Wadsworth and Samuel M. Hopkins. A list of all correspondents accompanies the volume.

Inventories (vol. 3) includes inventories and container lists of Trumbull's engravings, paintings and personal and household possessions as packed in cases for shipment across the Atlantic in 1803 to America, in 1808 in America and to London, and in 1813 returning to America. This volume also contains recipes for and notes documenting Trumbull's experiments with making colors, paints and varnish, as well as receipts for medicines and remedies for various ailments and household cleaning substances.

Mountmorrissland (vol. 4) includes accounts, letters and memoranda relating to the management of his property, Mountmorriss, located in Genesee County, NY. Topics include a subscription taken up in 1805 to improve the road leading to Dr. Samuel Willard's house in Stafford Springs, CT; the planting of ornamental and fruit trees on Trumbull's estate; and instructions on the rental and management of the property. Primary correspondents are Samuel M. Hopkins and James Wadsworth, his agents in Genesee County.

Arrangement Note

  1. Series I: John Trumbull Correspondence and Papers
  2. Series II: Jay Treaty
  3. Series III: Trumbull Family

This collection is organized into three series that are arranged chronologically and then alphabetically. Any undated materials were placed at the end of each series. Correspondence was arranged according to the member of the Trumbull family who sent or received it; however, in the event that correspondence was exchanged among the family members, the materials were organized by the sender.