Lebanon’s rich history is crucial to the town’s identity and to the story of Connecticut and even America itself. Lebanon is said to be best known for its role in the American Revolution, which earned the town the nickname the “Heartbeat of the Revolution.” The town was home to the only Revolutionary War-era Governor to support the revolution against the British. Gov. Jonathan Trumbull went on to convene the Council of Safety.
The primary meeting place for this group was Gov. Trumbull’s War Office which still stands along the Lebanon Green today. His son Joseph Trumbull served as commissary general for the Continental Army and War Office secretary William Williams signed the Declaration of Independence. Over the course of the war, Lebanon became a critical supply center for the Continental Army and helped earn Connecticut the nickname the “Provision State.” The town served as the site of the seven-month encampment of Lauzun’s Legion, the French cavalry unit led by General Rochambeau. It was here on the town Green that General George Washington viewed the French troops during a visit in March 1781.
Jonathan Trumbull went on to become the first Governor of Connecticut as a state, making him one of just two colonial governors to serve for both the colony and the state which formed amid the Revolution. His son Jonathan Trumbull Jr., who served as aide-de-camp for General George Washington, was elected to the House of Representatives and later the Senate. He was America’s second Speaker of the House and served as Governor of Connecticut from 1797 until his death in 1809. Jonathan Trumbull Sr.’s youngest son, named John Trumbull, is famous for his own role as the so-called “Painter of the Revolution.” His 1817 painting Declaration of Independence was used on the back of the two-dollar bill and hangs in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, along with three other of his paintings. His paintings are some of the most iconic from the period.
When the Lebanon Historical Society was chartered in 1965, the Board and its members began collecting objects and documents, organizing educational programs, and conducting genealogical and other historical research without a home base. In 1988, the group built the Lebanon Historical Society Museum and Visitor Center.
Today, the homes of Jonathan Trumbull and Johnathan Trumbull Jr. are open to the public for tours along with the War Office, the William Williams House, and the Wadsworth Stable. Lebanon is home to many colonial cemeteries, including Trumbull Cemetery, the final resting place of Jonathan Trumbull. Many of these locations are found along the historic town Green which now has a 1.5 mile walking path loop around it. It is one of the largest left in New England and may be the only town green still consistently in use for agriculture.