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THOMAS MIFFLIN (1744–1800)

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Originally appearing in Volume V18, Page 426 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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THOMAS MIFFLIN (1744–1800), American soldier and politician, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on the loth of January 1744, of Quaker parentage. He graduated at the college of Philadelphia (now the university of Pennsylvania) in 176o. As a member of the Pennsylvania house of representatives in 1772–1775, he was an ardent Whig, and in 1774 was a member of the first Continental Congress. After the outbreak of the War of Independence he devoted himself chiefly to the enlisting and drilling of troops, and was chosen major of a regiment. In June 1775 he entered the continental service as Washington's first aide-de-camp, and in August was chosen quartermaster-general. He became a brigadier-general in May 1776 and a major-general in February 1777. On the 5th of June 1776 he was succeeded as quartermaster-general by Stephen Moylan. Moylan, however, proved incompetent, and Mifflin resumed the office on the 1st of October. In the autumn of 1777 Mifflin was a leader in the obscure movement known as the Conway Cabal, the object of which was to replace Washington by General Horatio Gates. On the ground of ill health Mifflin tendered his resignation on the 8th of October, and on the 7th of November Congress accepted his resignation as quartermaster-general, but continued him in rank as major-general without pay. On the same day he was appointed a member of the new board of war, and on the following day was asked to continue as quartermaster-general until his successor should be appointed. On the 21st of November he urged before the old board of war and ordnance that Gates should be made president of the new board of war " from a conviction that his military skill would suggest reformations in the different departments of the army essential to good discipline, order and economy, and that his character and popularity in the army would facilitate the execution of such reformations when adopted by Congress." The attacks on Washington failed, and in March 1778 Mifflin was finally superseded as quartermaster-general by General Nathanael Greene. In October of the same year he was removed from the board of war. The sufferings of the troops at Valley Forge having been charged to his mismanagement as quarter- master-general, Congress, in June 1778, ordered an investigation; but before this inquiry had proceeded far, Congress granted him $r,000,000 to settle all claims against the office during his administration. In February 1779 he resigned his commission as major-general. During the war his eloquence was repeatedly of assistance to Congress in recruiting soldiers. He was a delegate in Congress in 1782–1784, and from November 1783 to November 1784 was president, in which office he received Washington's resignation of the command of the army and made a congratulatory address. In 1785–1788 he was speaker of the Pennsylvania general assembly (then consisting of only one house) ; he was a member of the Federal Constitutional Convention of 1787, and president of the state supreme executive council (or chief executive officer of the state) in 1788–1790. He was president of the Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention of 1789–1790; was the first governor of the state, from 1790 to 1799, after the adoption of the new state constitution; and during the Whisky Insurrection assumed personal command of the Pennsylvania militia. Towards the close of his last term as governor he was elected a member of the state assembly, but died during the first session, at Lancaster, on the loth of January 1800. See William Rawle, " Sketch of the Life of Thomas Mifflin," in Memoirs of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania (vol. 2, part 2, Philadelphia, 1830) ; and J. H. Merrill, Memoranda relating to the Mifflin Family (Philadelphia, 189o).
End of Article: THOMAS MIFFLIN (1744–1800)
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