Lyman Trumbull

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Resolved, That the Secretary of State be directed to inform the Senate whether, in the loyal States of the Union, any person or persons have been arrested and imprisoned and are now held in confinement by orders from him or his Department; and if so, under what law said arrests have been made, and said persons imprisoned.

Senator James Dixon said of the resolution that "it seems to me calculated to produce nothing but mischief." [2]

As chairman of the Judiciary Committee (1861–1872), he co-wrote the Thirteenth Amendment, which prohibited slavery in the United States other than its use as punishment for crimes of which the party had been convicted; this became the sentence to "time at hard labor" that became assignable for certain crimes. It was also the constitutional loophole by which southern states abused convict lease labor, a practice lasting into the twentieth century.

Political cartoon by Thomas Nast: Senators Schurz and Trumbull in a scene from Shakespeare's Richard III Schurz and Trumbull as Richard III and Gloucester.png
Political cartoon by Thomas Nast: Senators Schurz and Trumbull in a scene from Shakespeare's Richard III

Johnson impeachment trial

Illustration of Senator Trumbull motioning on May 6, 1868 for the arrest of disorderly spectators at the impeachment trial of Andrew Johnson The Impeachment Trial, Washington, D.C.--The Order to Clear the Galleries, May 6th, 1868--Senator Trumbull Moving for the Arrest of the Disorderly Spectators (1).jpg
Illustration of Senator Trumbull motioning on May 6, 1868 for the arrest of disorderly spectators at the impeachment trial of Andrew Johnson

During President Andrew Johnson's impeachment trial, Trumbull and six other Republican senators [3] were disturbed by their belief that Thaddeus Stevens and Benjamin Wade and those of similar position had manipulated the proceedings against Johnson in order to give a one-sided presentation of the evidence.[ citation needed ] Trumbull, in particular, noted:

Once set the example of impeaching a President for what, when the excitement of the hour shall have subsided, will be regarded as insufficient causes, as several of those now alleged against the President were decided to be by the House of Representatives only a few months since, and no future President will be safe who happens to differ with a majority of the House and two-thirds of the Senate on any measure deemed by them important, particularly if of a political character. Blinded by partisan zeal, with such an example before them, they will not scruple to remove out of the way any obstacle to the accomplishment of their purposes, and what then becomes of the checks and balances of the Constitution, so carefully devised and so vital to its perpetuity? They are all gone. [4]

All seven senators, resisting the pressure imposed on them, broke party ranks and defied public opinion, voting for acquittal, although they knew their decision would be unpopular. [5] In addition, they were joined by three other Republican senators (James Dixon, James Rood Doolittle, Daniel Sheldon Norton) and all nine Democrats in voting against conviction. [6] None of the Republicans who voted against conviction were reelected. After the trial, Congressman Benjamin Butler of Massachusetts conducted hearings in the House on widespread reports that Republican senators had been bribed to vote for Johnson's acquittal. Butler's hearings and subsequent inquiries revealed evidence that some acquittal votes were acquired by promises of patronage jobs and cash cards. [7]


Lyman Trumbull LTrumbull.jpg
Lyman Trumbull

During the December 1871 congressional debate on the creation of Yellowstone National Park, Senator Trumbull, whose son Walter Trumbull was a member of the Washburn-Langford-Doane Expedition to Yellowstone in 1870, spoke in favor of the park concept:

Here is a region of the country away up in the Rocky Mountains, where there are the most wonderful geysers on the face of the earth; a country that is not likely ever to be inhabited for the purpose of agriculture; but it is possible that some person may go there and plant himself right across the only path that leads to the wonders, and charge every man that passes along between the gorges of these mountains a fee of a dollar or five dollars. He may place an obstruction there and toll may be gathered from every person who goes to see these wonders of creation. [8]

Later career

Trumbull's grave at Oak Woods Cemetery Grave of Lyman Trumbull (1813-1896) at Oak Woods Cemetery, Chicago.jpg
Trumbull's grave at Oak Woods Cemetery

After leaving the Senate in 1873, Trumbull set up a law practice in Chicago. He worked in private practice except for a brief period when he ran an unsuccessful campaign for governor (as a Democrat) in 1880. In January 1883, Trumbull was given a seat of honor at the dedication of the Pullman Arcade Theatre in George Pullman's company town. [9]

He became a Populist in 1894. According to Almont Lindsey's 1942 book, The Pullman Strike, Trumbull took part in defending Eugene Debs and other labor leaders of the American Railway Union, who had been convicted for violating a federal court injunction during the 1894 Pullman railroad strike. Trumbull was part of the three-member legal team, which included Clarence Darrow, when their habeas corpus case Ex parte In the Matter of Eugene V. Debs 'et al.' was heard by the US Supreme Court in 1895. [10] [11]

Trumbull died at his home in Chicago on June 25, 1896, and was buried at Oak Woods Cemetery. [12]


Front of Trumbull's house in Alton Lyman Trumbull House.jpg
Front of Trumbull's house in Alton

During his explorations in the west John Wesley Powell named Mt. Trumbull (and now the Mt. Trumbull Wilderness) in northwestern Arizona after the Senator. The Lyman Trumbull House is a National Historic Landmark. Trumbull has a street named after him in the city of Chicago; Lyman Trumbull Elementary School in Chicago was named after the Senator. Trumbull Park and adjacent Trumbull Park Homes in Chicago are named after the Senator.

See also

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  1. 1 2 3 Wilson, J. G.; Fiske, J., eds. (1900). "Trumbull, Benjamin"  . Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography . New York: D. Appleton. Lyman Trumbull is the subject of the second half of this article entitled with his father's name.
  2. United States. Congress. The Congressional Globe: Containing the Debates and Proceedings of the Second Session of the Thirty-Seventh Congress. Edited by John C. Rives. Washington, DC: Congressional Globe Office, 1862, p. 90.
  3. These seven senators were William Pitt Fessenden, Joseph S. Fowler, James W. Grimes, John B. Henderson, Lyman Trumbull, Peter G. Van Winkle, and Edmund G. Ross.
  4. White, Horace. The Life of Lyman Trumble. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1913, pp. 319.
  5. "The Trial of Andrew Johnson, 1868".
  6. "Senate Journal. 40th Cong., 2nd sess., 16 /26 May 1868, 943–51". A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774–1875. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress . Retrieved June 7, 2019.
  7. David O. Stewart, Impeached: The Trial of President Andrew Johnson and the Fight for Lincoln's Legacy (2009), pp. 240-249, 284-299.
  8. Amstutz, Jacquelyn R. The Art of Thomas Moran and William Henry Jackson: Its Influence on the Formation of Yellowstone National Park, Bowling Green: Jacquelyn R. Amstutz, 1981, p. 88
  9. Almont Lindsey, The Pullman Strike, 1942, p. 55
  10. Lindsey (1942), The Pullman Strike, p. 55
  11. Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Trumbull, Lyman"  . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  12. "Lyman Trumbull is Dead". The Champaign Daily Gazette . Chicago. June 25, 1896. p. 2. Retrieved June 13, 2022 via

Further reading

Lyman Trumbull
Lyman Trumbull - Brady-Handy.jpg
Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee
In office
March 4, 1861 March 3, 1873
Political offices
Preceded by Secretary of State of Illinois
Succeeded by
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member-elect to the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 8th congressional district

Succeeded by
U.S. Senate
Preceded by U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Illinois
Served alongside: Stephen A. Douglas, Orville H. Browning, William Richardson, Richard Yates, John A. Logan
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Democratic nominee for Governor of Illinois
Succeeded by