Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Thomas Mifflin

                Thomas Mifflin, signer of the Constitution of the United States, was born on January 10, 1744, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  He was the son of John Mifflin and Elizabeth Bagnall.  He attended and graduated from the College of Philadelphia (now the University of Pennsylvania) in 1760 and then joined William Biddle’s mercantile business.  He traveled to Europe, returning in 1765.  After his return he and his brother, George Mifflin, established a commercial business partnership.  Thomas married Sarah Morris, his cousin, on March 4, 1765.

                Thomas was serving in the Continental Congress when he left to serve in the Continental Army early in the Revolutionary War.  He was expelled from the Religious Society of Friends even though his family had been Quakers for four generations.  He was expelled by the Quakers because his military service contradicted the pacifistic nature of his faith.  He later joined the Lutheran religion.

                After being commissioned as a major, Thomas became General George Washington’s aide-de-camp.  Then on August 14, 1775, Washington appointed Thomas to be the army’s first Quartermaster General under orders from Congress.  He preferred to serve on the front lines of battle, but he performed well in this appointment.  Because of his ability to lead others in battle, He was promoted to colonel and then brigadier general.  Even though he requested to be relieved of the job of Quartermaster General, he was persuaded to resume those duties for the simple reason that Congress could not find a replacement for him.

                Congress debated whether a national army or individual state armies was more efficient.  The debate resulted in the creation of the Congressional Board of War.  Thomas Mifflin served on this board from 1777 to 1778 and then rejoined the army.  Due to criticism of his service as Quartermaster General, he did not take an active role in the military.  He was accused of embezzlement, for which he welcomed an inquiry.  He resigned his commission as Major General even though no inquiry was held.  Congress continued to ask for his service even after accepting his resignation.

                Thomas was a member of the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly (1772-1776), and he served two terms in the Continental Congress (1774-1775 and 1782-1784).  He served as the presiding officer of the Congress for seven months (November 1783 to June 1784).  His most important duty while serving as president was to accept on behalf of Congress the commission of General George Washington, who resigned as Commander of the army in December 1783.  Congress had so little importance remaining after the war that Thomas had a difficult time convincing states to send delegates to Congress to ratify the Treaty of Paris.  The Treaty finally took place on January 14, 1784, and officially brought an end to the Revolutionary War.

                Thomas represented Pennsylvania as a delegate at the Constitutional Convention held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1787 and signed the finished Constitution.  He served in the house of Pennsylvania General Assembly (1785-1788).  He served as a member of the Supreme Executive Council of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; he was elected President of the Council on November 5, 1788, replacing Benjamin Franklin.  He was unanimously re-elected to the Presidency the following year on November 11, 1789.  He presided over the committee that wrote the 1790 Pennsylvania State Constitution, and the new document put an end to the Executive Council and replaced it with a single Governor.  Thomas became the last President of Pennsylvania as well as the first Governor of the Commonwealth on December 21, 1790.  He held the office of Governor until Thomas McKean succeeded him on December 17, 1799.  Thomas Mifflin then returned to the state legislature and served in that body until his death about a month later.  “Mifflin decreed that no less than six towns in Pennsylvania bear his name.”

                Thomas Mifflin died on January 20 or January 23 in 1800 and was buried in front of Trinity Lutheran Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  A Commonwealth of Pennsylvania historical marker at the church commemorates both Thomas Wharton and Thomas Mifflin, the first and last Presidents of Pennsylvania under the 1776 State Constitution.  The marker was dedicated in 1975 and is located on Duke Street in Lancaster.  It reads:  “Holy Trinity 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).”

                Mifflin was an American merchant and politician as well as a major general in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.  He was also 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.  He served as Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, President of the Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council, and the first Governor of Pennsylvania.  He was also a member of the American Philosophical Society.

                Thomas Mifflin has the distinction of having the following entities named in his honor:  Mifflin County, Pennsylvania; Governor Mifflin School District; Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania; Mifflintown, Pennsylvania; Mifflinville, 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 US 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 in Madison, Wisconsin; Mifflin Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Thomas Mifflin English Muffins in Azusa, California.  Dunder Mifflin, the fictional paper distribution company, is a parody of the large number of entities.

No comments:

Post a Comment