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Trumbull, Lyman

Lyman Trumbull, detail

Lyman Trumbull grew up in New England, matured in the Deep South, and in the Midwest had a long and eventful political career driven by principle and law. He was born in Connecticut, spent several years as a school principal and lawyer in Georgia, and arrived in Belleville, Illinois in 1837. By 1840 he was sitting in the Illinois house and soon after became Illinois Secretary of State. Characteristically, he resigned that post on a matter of principle in 1853. The Illinois legislature selected him over Abraham Lincoln for the U.S. Senate in 1854, and he went to Washington as a rebellious Democrat in opposition to the Nebraska Bill. By 1856 was voting as a Republican. Tall and slim, with a reputation as cold and conservative, the interplay between events and his deeply help principles seemed to drive Lyman Trumbull all his life. The Dred Scott decision appalled him, secession moved him to call for compromise, and during the war he fretted publically about the administration’s use of executive power. But he supported the Emancipation Proclamation and, most famously, co-authored the Thirteenth Amendment, after he insisted that an end to slavery could not be achieved with a mere act of Congress. He again infuriated his radical critics when he voted against the impeachment of President Johnson in 1868. This was electoral suicide and despite a run for governor as a Democrat in 1880, he never held office again. He died of cancer in June 1896 in Chicago. (By John Osborne)

Life span: 
10/12/1813 to 06/25/1896


How to Cite This Page: "Trumbull, Lyman," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College,