Thomas Mifflin

American politician (1744-1800)

Thomas Mifflin (January 10, 1744 – January 20, 1800) was an American merchant, soldier, and politician from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Thomas Mifflin
1st Governor of Pennsylvania
In office
December 21, 1790 – December 17, 1799
Preceded byHimself
as President of Pennsylvania
Succeeded byThomas McKean
7th President of Pennsylvania
In office
November 5, 1788 – December 21, 1790
Vice PresidentGeorge Ross
Preceded byBenjamin Franklin
Succeeded byHimself
as Governor of Pennsylvania
Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives
In office
Preceded byJohn Bayard
Succeeded byRichard Peters
3rd President of the Confederation Congress
In office
November 3, 1783 – June 3, 1784
Preceded byElias Boudinot
Succeeded byRichard Henry Lee
Continental Congressman
In office
In office
Personal details
Born(1744-01-10)January 10, 1744
Philadelphia, Province of Pennsylvania, British America
DiedJanuary 20, 1800(1800-01-20) (aged 56)
Lancaster, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political partyFederalist
Sarah Morris
(m. 1767; died 1790)
ProfessionMerchant, soldier, politician

Military service

The Death of General Mercer at the Battle of Princeton, January 3, 1777, painting by John Trumbull (Mifflin on far left, leading the cavalry charge)[1]

Early in the Revolutionary War, Mifflin left the Continental Congress to serve in the Continental Army. He was made a major, then became an aide-de-camp of George Washington.

On August 14, 1775, Washington appointed him to become the army's first quartermaster general, under order of Congress.[2] Even though he preferred to be on the front line, people said he was good at his job. Because he failed to properly supply Washington and the troops at Valley Forge, questions were raised. People said he had warehoused and sold supplies, instead of bringing them to Washington and his troops. After a talk with Washington,[3] Mifflin asked to be relieved as quartermaster general but was persuaded to resume those duties because Congress did not find a replacement.

Mifflin's leadership in the Battle of Trenton and the Battle of Princeton led to a promotion to major general.[4] In Congress, there was debate regarding whether a national army was more efficient or whether the 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, but Congress continued to ask his advice even after accepting his resignation.

Mifflin and his wife Sarah Morris, 1773 portrait by John Singleton Copley

Personal life


Although Mifflin's family had been Quakers for four generations, he was expelled from the Religious Society of Friends when he joined the Continental Army, because his involvement with the military contradicted that faith's pacifistic doctrines.[5] Mifflin became a member of the American Philosophical Society in 1768 and served for two years as its secretary.[4] He served from 1773 to 1791 as a trustee of the College and Academy of Philadelphia (now the University of Pennsylvania), including two years as treasurer (1773–1775).[6]


  1. Caldwell, John; Rodriguez Roque, Oswaldo (1994). "Thomas Mifflin". American Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. pp. 214–15.
  2. Risch, Erna (1981). Supplying Washington's Army. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Army Center of Military History. pp. 30–31. Archived from the original on 2010-06-17. Retrieved 2022-06-29.
  3. Unger, Harlow Giles (2010). Patrick Henry, Lion of Liberty. Da Capo Press.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Wright, Robert K., Jr.; MacGregor, Morris J., Jr. (1987). "Thomas Mifflin". Soldier-Statesmen of the Constitution. U.S. Army Center of Military History. pp. 109–11. Archived from the original on 2014-09-03. Retrieved 2022-06-29.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. "Thomas Mifflin". Archived from the original on April 22, 1999.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link) Citing Ferris, Robert G., ed. (1976). Signers of the Constitution: Historic Places Commemorating the Signing of the Constitution (revised ed.). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service. pp. 193–94.
  6. "Thomas Mifflin (1744–1800)". Penn in the 18th Century. University of Pennsylvania. Archived from the original on 2018-04-23.

Other websites

Party political offices
First Democratic-Republican nominee for Governor of Pennsylvania
1790, 1793, 1796
Succeeded by
Thomas McKean
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
Office abolished
Became Governor of Pennsylvania
New office
Previously 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
Office abolished