|1st Governor of Pennsylvania|
December 21, 1790 – December 17, 1799
as President of Pennsylvania
|Succeeded by||Thomas McKean|
|7th President of Pennsylvania|
November 5, 1788 – December 21, 1790
|Vice President||George Ross|
|Preceded by||Benjamin Franklin|
as Governor of Pennsylvania
|Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives|
|Preceded by||John Bayard|
|Succeeded by||Richard Peters|
|11th President of the Confederation Congress|
November 3, 1783 – June 3, 1784
|Preceded by||Elias Boudinot|
|Succeeded by||Richard Henry Lee|
January 10, 1744|
Philadelphia, Province of Pennsylvania, British America
|Died||January 20, 1800
Lancaster, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Profession||Merchant, soldier, politician|
Thomas Mifflin (January 10, 1744 – January 20, 1800) was an American merchant and politician from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He served in a variety of roles during and after the American Revolution, several of which qualify him to be counted among the Founding Fathers. He was the first Governor of Pennsylvania, serving from 1790 to 1799.
Born in Philadelphia, Mifflin became a merchant after graduating from the College of Philadelphia. He joined the Continental Army after serving in the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly and the Continental Congress. During the American Revolutionary War, he served as an aide to General George Washington and as the Continental Army's Quartermaster General, rising to the rank of major general. Mifflin returned to Congress in 1782 and was elected President of the Continental Congress in 1783. He served as Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from 1785 to 1787 and as President of the Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council from 1788 to 1790.
Mifflin was a delegate to the 1787 Philadelphia Convention and signed the United States Constitution. He presided over the committee that wrote Pennsylvania's 1790 constitution and became the state's first governor after the ratification of the new state constitution. Mifflin left office as governor in 1799 and died the following year.
Thomas Mifflin was born January 10, 1744 in Philadelphia in the Province of Pennsylvania. He was the son of John Mifflin and Elizabeth Bagnall. His great-grandfather John Mifflin Jr. (1661–1714) was born in Warminster, Wiltshire, England and settled in the Province of Pennsylvania. Thomas Mifflin 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. He was a member of the American Philosophical Society.
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. 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. Although it has been said that he was good at the job despite preferring to be on the front lines, questions have been raised regarding his failure to properly supply Washington and the troops at Valley Forge, as well as his having warehoused and sold Valley Forge supplies to the highest bidder. Reportedly, after Washington confronted him about this, Mifflin 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. His leadership in the battles Trenton and Princeton led to a promotion to major general.
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.
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 on December 23, 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 at the Maryland State House in Annapolis. Nonetheless, after the ratified versions of the Treaty of Paris were exchanged in France on May 12, 1784, Mifflin became the first United States president officially recognized by Great Britain. Mifflin had just appointed Thomas Jefferson as a minister to France on May 7, 1784, and he appointed his former aide, Colonel Josiah Harmar, to be the commander of the First American Regiment.
After serving as president, Thomas Mifflin was a delegate to the United States Constitutional Convention in 1787. He was a signatory to the Continental Association and the Constitution. 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. 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
Mifflin died in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, January 23, 1800. 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. It reads:
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
- Mifflin County, Pennsylvania
- Governor Mifflin School District
- Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania
- Mifflintown, Pennsylvania
- Mifflin, Pennsylvania
- Mifflinville, Pennsylvania
- Mifflin Cross Roads, Pennsylvania
- Mifflin Township, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania
- Mifflin Township, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania
- Upper Mifflin Township, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania
- Fort Mifflin, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania
- Several townships in Ohio
- West Mifflin, Pennsylvania
- Mifflin Hall (the main building at the U.S. Army Quartermaster Center and School at Fort Lee, Virginia Decommissioned July 30, 2010)
- Mifflin Hall (the U.S. Army Sustainment Center of Excellence Headquarters at Fort Lee, Virginia)
- Mifflin Hall (dormitory at the Pennsylvania State University University Park Campus)
- Thomas Mifflin School, School District of Philadelphia
- Mifflin Avenue, in Scranton, Pennsylvania
- Mifflin Street, Madison Wisconsin
- Mifflin Street, Philadelphia Pennsylvania
- Dunder Mifflin, the fictional paper distribution company, is a parody of the large number of entities named after Mifflin.
- Mifflin Square Park between 5th and 6th Streets, Ritner and Wolf Streets, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- "John Mifflin, II". Geni. Retrieved September 19, 2015.
- Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission entry for Thomas Mifflin Archived November 4, 2001, at the Wayback Machine., accessed May 2, 2007.
- Caldwell, John; Rodriguez Roque, Oswaldo (1994). "Thomas Mifflin". American Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. pp. 214–215.
- adherents.com entry for Thomas Mifflin
- Risch pp. 30–31
- Harlow Giles Unger, "Patrick Henry, Lion of Liberty", De Capo Press, 2010.
- Wright, Robert K. Jr.; MacGregor, Morris J. Jr. (1987). "Thomas Mifflin". Soldier-Statesmen of the Constitution. U.S. Army Center of Military History. pp. 109–111.
- "General George Washington Resigning His Commission". Architect of the Capitol.
- John K. Alexander, "Mifflin, Thomas", American National Biography Online, February 2000.
- 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.
- Robert K. Wright Jr; Morris J. MacGregor Jr (1987). "Thomas Mifflin". Soldier-Statesmen of the Constitution. U.S. Army Center of Military History. Retrieved November 26, 2013.
- United States Congress. "Thomas Mifflin (id: M000701)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
- Pennsylvania State Historical Marker for Thomas Mifflin Archived May 26, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
- History of Mifflin Township, Franklin County, Ohio Archived March 11, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. accessed May 24, 2010.
- Ackerman, Jan (May 10, 1984). "Town names carry bit of history". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 6. Retrieved October 31, 2015.
- History of Quartermaster Center, Fort Lee, Virginia accessed May 2010.
- History of Mifflin Hall, Penn State University Pennsylvania State University, accessed May 2010.
- 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.
- 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. 113–34.
- Rossum, Kenneth R. (1952). Thomas Mifflin and the Politics of the American Revolution. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Thomas Mifflin.|
- Brief biography and portrait at the University of Pennsylvania
- Biography and portrait at Quartermasters-General
|President of the United States in Congress Assembled
November 3, 1783 – October 31, 1784
Richard Henry Lee
|President of Pennsylvania
November 5, 1788 – December 21, 1790
As Governor of Pennsylvania
As President of Pennsylvania
|Governor of Pennsylvania
December 21, 1790 – 1799
|Member, Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania, representing the County of Philadelphia
October 20, 1788 – December 21, 1790