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Thomas Mifflin


General Thomas Mifflin was one of the most distinguished of the Pennsylvania delegates who signed the federal constitution. He was born in 1744, of parents who were Quakers or Friends. His education was intrusted to the Rev. Dr. Smith, with whom he was connected in cordial intimacy for more than forty years. Active and zealous, he engaged early in opposition to the measures of the British Parliament. He was a member of the first Congress in 1774. He took arms, and was among the first officers commissioned on the organization of the continental army, being appointed quartermaster general in August, 1775. For this offence he was read out of the Society of Quakers. In 1777 he was very useful in animating the militia, and enkindling the spirit which seemed to have been damped; but he was also suspected in this year of being unfriendly to the commander-in-chief, and of wishing to have some other person appointed in his place. His sanguine disposition and his activity might have rendered him insensible to the value of that coolness and caution which were essential to the preservation of such an army as was then under the command of Washington.
   In 1787, General Mifflin was a member of the convention which framed the constitution of the United States, and his name is affixed to that instrument. In October, 1788, he succeeded Franklin as president of the supreme executive council of Pennsylvania, in which station he continued till October, 1790. In September a constitution for this State was formed by a convention, in which he presided, and he was chosen the first governor. In 1794, during the insurrection in Pennsylvania, he employed to the advantage of his country the extraordinary powers of elocution with which he was endowed. The imperfection of the militia laws was compensated by his eloquence. He made a circuit through the lower counties, and at different places publicly addressed the militia on the crisis in the affairs of their country, and through his animating exhortations the State furnished the quota required. He was succeeded in the office of governor by Mr. McKean, at the close of the year 1799, and died at Lancaster, January 20, 1800, in the fifty-seventh year of his age. He was an active and zealous patriot, who had devoted much of his life to the public service.

Source: Marshall, James V.. The United States Manual of Biography and History. Philadelphia: James B. Smith & Co., 1856. Pages 177-178. (Some minor spelling changes may have been made.)


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Last modified January 1, 2004