Thomas Mifflin

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Thomas Mifflin
Thomas Mifflin.jpg
1st Governor of Pennsylvania
In office
December 21, 1790 – December 17, 1799
Preceded by Himself,
as President of Pennsylvania
Succeeded by Thomas McKean
7th President of Pennsylvania
In office
1788–1790
Preceded by Benjamin Franklin
Succeeded by Himself,
as Governor of Pennsylvania
Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives
In office
1785–1787
Preceded by John Bayard
Succeeded by Richard Peters
President of the Continental Congress
In office
November 3, 1783 – June 3, 1784
Preceded by Elias Boudinot
Succeeded by Richard Henry Lee
Continental Congressman
In office
1782–1784
In office
1774–1775
Personal details
Born (1744-01-10)January 10, 1744
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died January 20, 1800(1800-01-20) (aged 56)
Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Political party Federalist
Spouse(s) Sarah Morris
Residence Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Alma mater University of Pennsylvania
Profession Merchant, soldier, politician
Religion Lutheran
Signature

Thomas Mifflin (January 10, 1744 – January 20, 1800) was an American merchant and politician from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was a major general in the Continental Army and the 1st and 3rd Quartermaster General during the American Revolution, a member of the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly, a Continental Congressman from Pennsylvania, President of the Continental Congress, and a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Several of these activities qualify him to be counted among the Founding Fathers. He served as Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, President of the Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council and the first Governor of Pennsylvania.

Early life[edit]

Thomas Mifflin was born January 10, 1744 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, son of John Mifflin and Elizabeth Bagnall. He graduated from the College of Philadelphia (now the University of Pennsylvania) in 1760, and joined the mercantile business of William Biddle. After returning from a trip to Europe in 1765, he established a commercial business partnership with his brother, George Mifflin, and married his cousin, Sarah Morris, on March 4, 1765.[1] He was a member of the American Philosophical Society.

American Revolution[edit]

Early in the Revolutionary War, Mifflin left the Continental Congress to serve in the Continental Army. Although his family had been Quakers for four generations, he was expelled from the Religious Society of Friends because his involvement with a military force contradicted his faith's pacifistic nature.[2] He was commissioned as a major, then became George Washington's aide-de-camp and, on August 14, 1775 Washington appointed him to become the army's first Quartermaster General under order of Congress.[3] He was good at the job, but preferred to be on the front lines. His leadership in battle gained him promotions to colonel and then brigadier general. He asked to be relieved of the job of Quartermaster General, but was persuaded to resume those duties because Congress was having difficulty finding a replacement.

In Congress, there was debate regarding whether a national army was more efficient or if individual states should maintain their own forces. As a result of this debate the Congressional Board of War was created, on which Mifflin served from 1777 to 1778. He then rejoined the army but took little active role, following criticism of his service as quartermaster general. He was accused of embezzlement and welcomed an inquiry; however, one never took place. He resigned his commission—by then, as a major general—but Congress continued to ask his advice even after accepting his resignation.

Political career[edit]

Prior to Independence, Thomas Mifflin was a member of the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly (1772–1776). He served two terms in the Continental Congress (1774–1775 and 1782–1784), including seven months (November 1783 to June 1784) as that body's presiding officer. His most important duty as president was to accept on behalf of Congress the commission of General George Washington, who resigned in December 1783. The importance of Congress declined so precipitously after the war that Mifflin found it difficult to convince the states to send enough delegates to Congress to ratify the Treaty of Paris, which finally took place on January 14, 1784.[4]

Mifflin was a delegate to the United States Constitutional Convention in 1787, as well as a signer of the Constitution.[1] He served in the house of Pennsylvania General Assembly (1785–1788). He was a member of the Supreme Executive Council of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and on November 5, 1788, he was elected President of the Council, replacing Benjamin Franklin. He was unanimously reelected to the Presidency on November 11, 1789.[5] He presided over the committee that wrote Pennsylvania's 1790 State Constitution. That document did away with the Executive Council, replacing it with a single Governor. On December 21, 1790 Mifflin became the last President of Pennsylvania and the first Governor of the Commonwealth. He held the latter office until December 17, 1799, when he was succeeded by Thomas McKean. He then returned to the state legislature, where he served until his death the following month. Mifflin decreed that no less than six towns in Pennsylvania bear his name.

Death and legacy[edit]

Mifflin died in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, January 23, 1800.[6] He is buried in front of Trinity Lutheran Church in Lancaster. A Commonwealth of Pennsylvania historical marker at the church commemorates both Thomas Wharton and Mifflin, the first and last Presidents of Pennsylvania under the 1776 State Constitution. The marker, dedicated in 1975, is located on Duke Street in Lancaster.[7] It reads:

Holy Trinity
Lutheran Church
Founded in 1730.
A session for an Indian treaty was held in the original church building in 1762.
The present edifice was dedicated in 1766.
Here are interred the remains of Thomas Wharton (1778) and Gov. Thomas Mifflin (1800).

Entities named after Mifflin[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission entry for Thomas Mifflin, accessed May 2, 2007.
  2. ^ adherents.com entry for Thomas Mifflin
  3. ^ Risch 30-31
  4. ^ John K. Alexander, "Mifflin, Thomas", American National Biography Online, February 2000.
  5. ^ Minutes of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania, from its organization to the termination of the Revolution. [March 4, 1777 – December 20, 1790]. Harrisburg, Pub. by the State, 1852-53.
  6. ^ Robert K. Wright, Jr.; Morris J. MacGregor, Jr. (1987). "Thomas Mifflin". Soldier-Statesmen of the Constitution. U.S. Army Center of Military History. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  7. ^ Pennsylvania State Historical Marker for Thomas Mifflin
  8. ^ History of Mifflin Township, Franklin County, Ohio accessed May 24, 2010.
  9. ^ History of Quartermaster Center, Fort Lee, Virginia accessed May 2010.
  10. ^ History of Mifflin Hall, Penn State University Pennsylvania State University, accessed May 2010.

References[edit]

  • Taffe, Stephen R. (2003). The Philadelphia Campaign 1777–1778. Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas. ISBN 0-7006-1267-X. 
  • Boatner, Mark M. III (1974). Encyclopedia of the American Revolution. New York: David Mckay Company, Inc. ISBN 0-679-50440-0. 
  • Thomas Mifflin at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
  • Risch, Erna (1981). Supplying Washington's Army. Washington, D.C.: United States Army Center of Military History. 
  • Rowe, G. S. (1978). Thomas Mifflin: The Shaping of an American Republican. Boulder: University of Colorado Press. 
  • Tinckom, Harry M. (1950). The Republicans and Federalists in Pennsylvania. Harrisburg: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. pp. 113–134. 
  • Rossum, Kenneth R. (1952). Thomas Mifflin and the Politics of the American Revolution. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Elias Boudinot
President of the United States in Congress Assembled
November 3, 1783 – October 31, 1784
Succeeded by
Richard Henry Lee
Preceded by
Benjamin Franklin
President of Pennsylvania
November 5, 1788 – December 21, 1790
Succeeded by
Himself
As Governor of Pennsylvania
Preceded by
Himself
As President of Pennsylvania
Governor of Pennsylvania
December 21, 1790 – 1799
Succeeded by
Thomas McKean
Legal offices
Preceded by
Henry Hill
Member, Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania, representing the County of Philadelphia
October 20, 1788 – December 21, 1790
Succeeded by
Office abolished