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Thomas Mifflin, 5th President of the United States in Congress Assembled, Signer US Constitution, Conway Cabal - A Stan Klos Biography

Thomas Mifflin
5th President of the United States
in Congress Assembled
November 3, 1783 to June 3, 1784

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MIFFLIN, Thomas, soldier, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1744; died in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 20 , January, 1800. He was graduated at Philadelphia college in 1760, entered a counting-house, traveled in Europe in 1765, and on his return engaged in commercial business in partnership with a brother.

In 1772 and 1773 he was a representative in the legislature, and in 1774 was one of the delegates sent to the Continental congress, and served on important committees. When the news came of the fight at Lexington he eloquently advocated resolute action in the town-meetings, and when troops were enlisted he was active in organizing and drilling one of the first regiments, and was made its major, thereby severing his connection with the Quaker society, in which he was born and reared.

General Washington chose him as his first aide-de-camp, with the rank of colonel, soon after the establishment of his headquarters at Cambridge. While there he led a force against a British detachment. In July, 1775, he was made quartermaster-general of the army, and, after the evacuation of Boston by the enemy, was commissioned as brigadier-general, 19 May, 1776. He was assigned to the command of a part of the Pennsylvania troops when the army lay encamped before New York, and enjoyed the particular confidence of the commander-in-chief. His brigade was described as the best disciplined of any in the army. In the retreat from Long Island he commanded the rear-guard, and through a blunder received the order to cover the retreat before all of the troops had embarked, but, after marching his men to the ferry, regained the lines before the enemy discovered that the post was deserted. In compliance with a special resolve of congress, Mifflin resumed the duties of quarter-master-general.

In November, 1776, he was sent. to Philadelphia to represent to the Continental Congress the critical condition of the army, and to excite the patriotism of the Pennsylvanians. After listening to him, congress appealed to the militia of Philadelphia and the nearest counties to join the army in New Jersey, sent to all parts of the country for re-enforcements and supplies, and ordered Mifflin to remain in Philadelphia for consultation and advice. He organized and trained the three regiments of associators of the city and neighborhood, sending a body of 1,500 to Trenton. In January, 1777, accompanied by a Committee of the legislature, he made the tour of the principal towns of Pennsylvania, and by his stirring oratory brought recruits to the ranks of the army. He came up with re-enforcements before the Battle of Princeton was fought. In recognition of his services, congress commissioned him as major-general on 19 February, and made him a member of the board of war.

He shared the dissatisfaction at the "Fabian policy" of General Washington, and sympathized with the views of General Horatio Gates and General Thomas Conway, but afterward declared that he had not shared in the desire to elevate the former to the supreme command. The cares of his various offices so impaired General Mifflin's health that he offered his resignation, but, congress refused to accept it. When the friends of Washington overcame the Conway Cabal, Mifflin was replaced by General Nathanael Greene in the quartermaster's department in March, 1778, and in October he and Gates were discharged from their places on the board of war.

An investigation of his conduct was ordered by congress in consequence of charges that the distresses of the army at Valley Forge were due to the mismanagement of the quartermaster-general. When the decree was revoked, after he had himself demanded an examination, he resigned his commission, but congress again refused to accept it, and placed in his hands $1,000,000 to settle outstanding claims. In January, 1780, he was appointed on a board to devise means for retrenching expenses. After the achievement of the Treaty of Paris he was elected as a delegate to the United States Unicameral Congress.

In a twist of fate, Thomas Mifflin was elected President of the United States in Congress Assembled, 3 November, 1783 with the Journals of the United States in Congress Assembled reporting:

Pursuant to the Articles of Confederation, the following delegates attended:

FROM THE STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE, Mr. A[biel] Foster, MASSACHUSETTS, Mr. E[lbridge] Gerry, who produced a certificate under the seal of the State, signed John Avery, Mr. S[amuel] Osgood, RHODE ISLAND AND PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS, Mr. W[illiam] Ellery and Mr. D[avid] Howell, CONNECTICUT, Mr. S[amuel] Huntington and Mr. B[enjamin] Huntington, NEW YORK, Mr. James Duane, NEW JERSEY, Mr. E[lias] Boudinot, MARYLAND, Mr. D[aniel] Carroll,Mr. J[ames] McHenry, VIRGINIA.Mr. J[ohn] F[rancis], Mr. A[rthur] Lee, NORTH CAROLINA,  Mr. [Benjamin] Hawkins, and Mr. [Hugh] Williamson, SOUTH CAROLINA, Mr. J[acob] Read, Mr. R[ichard] Beresford, Seven states being represented, they proceeded to the choice of a President; and, the ballots being taken, the honorable Thomas Mifflin was elected.

One of the most remarkable events of the United States history occurred under Mifflin's Presidency the very next month. In November of 1783 the British finally evacuated New York and Congress made the momentous decision to place the Continental Army on a "Peace Footing ". It was in Annapolis, where the US Government convened that the last great act of the Revolutionary War occurred in 1783. George Washington was formally received by President Thomas Mifflin and Congress.  Instead of declaring himself King, resigned his commission as Commander-in-Chief to the President of the United States.

What made this action especially remarkable was that George Washington, at his pinnacle of his power and popularity, surrendered the commission to President Thomas Mifflin. It was Mifflin who, as a Major General and a member of the Board of War, conspired to replace Washington as Commander-in-Chief with Horatio Gates in 1777. What follows is The United States in Congress Assembled Journal account of George Washington's December 23, 1783 resignation:

According to order, his Excellency the Commander in Chief was admitted to a public audience, and being seated, and silence ordered, the President, after a pause, informed him, that the United States in Congress assembled, were prepared to receive his communications; Whereupon, he arose and addressed Congress as follows:


'Mr. President:

The great events on which my resignation depended, having at length taken place, I have now the honor of offering my sincere congratulations to Congress, and of presenting myself before them, to surrender into their hands the trust committed to me, and to claim the indulgence of retiring from the service of my country.

Happy in the confirmation of our independence and sovereignty, and pleased with the opportunity afforded the United States, of becoming a respectable nation, I resign with satisfaction the appointment I accepted with diffidence; a diffidence in my abilities to accomplish so arduous a task; which however was superseded by a confidence in the rectitude of our cause, the support of the supreme power of the Union, and the patronage of Heaven.

The successful termination of the war has verified the most sanguine expectations; and my gratitude for the interposition of Providence, and the assistance I have received from my countrymen, increases with every review of the momentous contest.

While I repeat my obligations to the army in general, I should do injustice to my own feelings not to acknowledge, in this place, the peculiar services and distinguished merits of the gentlemen who have been attached to my person during the war. It was impossible the choice of confidential officers to compose my family should have been more fortunate. Permit me, sir, to recommend in particular, those who have continued in the service to the present moment, as worthy of the favorable notice and patronage of Congress.

I consider it an indispensable duty to close this last act of my official life by commending the interests of our dearest country to the protection of Almighty God, and those who have the superintendence of them to his holy keeping. Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great theatre of action, and bidding an affectionate farewell to this august body, under whose orders I have so long acted, I here offer my commission, and take my leave of all the employments of public life'

 

George Washington then advanced and delivered to President Mifflin his commission, with a copy of his address, and returned to having resumed his place, whereupon the President Thomas Mifflin returned him the following answer:

 

Sir,

The United States in Congress assembled receive with emotions, too affecting for utterance, the solemn deposit resignation of the authorities under which you have led their troops with safety and triumph success through a long a perilous and a doubtful war. When called upon by your country to defend its invaded rights, you accepted the sacred charge, before they it had formed alliances, and whilst they were it was without funds or a government to support you. You have conducted the great military contest with wisdom and fortitude, through invariably regarding the fights of the civil government power through all disasters and changes. You have, by the love and confidence of your fellow-citizens, enabled them to display their martial genius, and transmit their fame to posterity. You have persevered, till these United States, aided by a magnanimous king and nation, have been enabled, under a just Providence, to close the war in freedom, safety and independence; on which happy event we sincerely join you in congratulations.

Having planted defended the standard of liberty in this new world: having taught an useful lesson a lesson useful to those who inflict and to those who feel oppression, you retire from the great theatre of action, loaded with the blessings of your fellow-citizens, but your fame the glory of your virtues will not terminate with your official life the glory of your many virtues will military command, it will continue to animate remotest posterity ages and this last act will not be among the least conspicuous

We feel with you our obligations to the army in general; and will particularly charge ourselves with the interests of those confidential officers, who have attended your person to this interesting affecting moment.

We join you in commending the interests of our dearest country to the protection of Almighty God, beseeching him to dispose the hearts and minds of its citizens, to improve the opportunity afforded them, of becoming a happy and respectable nation. And for you we address to him our earnest prayers, that a life so beloved may be fostered with all his care; that your days may be happy, as they have been illustrious; and that he will finally give you that reward which this world cannot give.

President Thomas Mifflin's third month in office was equally eventful as he presided over another great US event. On January 14, 1784 Congress finally assembled enough States to ratify the Definitive Treaty of Peace , which half-ended the War with Great Britain (King George III did not ratify the treaty for Britain until April 9, 1784 which officially ending the War). On January 21st the following proclamation was published and appeared in the Pennsylvania Gazette:

PHILADELPHIA, January 21.
By the UNITED STATES in CONGRESS assembled.
A PROCLAMATION.

WHEREAS Definitive Articles of peace and friendship, between the United States of America and his Britannic Majesty, were concluded and signed at Paris on the 3d day of September, 1783, by the Plenipotentiaries of the said United States and of His said Britannic Majesty, duly and respectively authorized for that purpose, which definitive articles are in the words following:

And we, the United States in Congress assembled, having seen and duly considered the definitive articles aforesaid, did, by a certain article, under the seal of the United States, bearing date this 14th day of January, 1784, approve, ratify and confirm the same, and every part and clause thereof, engaging and promising that we would sincerely and faithfully perform and observe the same, and never to suffer them to be violated by any one, or transgressed in any manner, as far as should be in our power.

And being sincerely disposed to carry the said articles into execution, truly, honestly and with good faith, according to the intent and meaning thereof, We have thought proper, by these presents, to notify the premises to all the good citizens of these States, hereby enjoining all bodies of magistracy, legislative, executive and judiciary, all persons bearing office, civil or military, of whatever rank, degree or powers, and all others, the good citizens of these states, of every vocation and condition, that, reverencing those stipulations entered into on their behalf, under the authority of that federal bond, by which their existence as an independent people is bound up together, and is known and acknowledged by the nations of the world, and with that good faith, which is every man's surest guide, within their several offices, jurisdictions and vocations, they carry into effect the said definitive articles, and every clause and sentence thereof, strictly and completely.

Given under the seal of the United States. Witness his Excellency THOMAS MIFFLIN, our President, at Annapolis, this 14th day of January 1784, and of the sovereignty and independence of the United States of America, the eighth.
 

In March 1784 a congressional committee led by Thomas Jefferson proposed to divide up sprawling western territories into states, to be considered equal with the original 13.

Whereas the general Assembly of Virginia at their session, commencing on the 20 day of October, 1783, passed an act to authorize their delegates in Congress to convey to the United States in Congress assembled all the right of that Commonwealth, to the territory northwestward of the river Ohio: And whereas the delegates of the said Commonwealth, have presented to Congress the form of a deed proposed to be executed pursuant to the said Act, in the words following:

To all who shall see these presents, we Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Hardy, Arthur Lee and James Monroe, the underwritten delegates for the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the Congress of the United States of America, send greeting:

Known as the Ordinance of 1784, Jefferson's committee not only proposed a ban on slavery in these new states but everywhere in the U.S. after 1800. This proposal is narrowly defeated by the Southern Contingent of Congress despite President Thomas Mifflin's support.  The chance of abolishing slavery nationally is lost until the Civil War. It wouldn't be until July 1787, under President Arthur St. Clair, that an Ordinance would be passed to govern free of slavery the Northwest Territory which later became the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Earlier in 1784 Mifflin's Congress, through the efforts of James Monroe, granted the necessary ships papers  to the Empress of China:

We the United States in Congress assembled, make known, that John Green, captain of the ship called the Empress of China, is a citizen of the United States of America, and that the ship which he commands belongs to citizens of the said United States, and as we wish to see the said John Green prosper in his lawful affairs, our prayer is to all the beforementioned, and to each of them separately, where the said John Green shall arrive with his vessel and cargo, that they may please to receive him with goodness, and treat him in a becoming manner, permitting him upon the usual tolls and expences in passing and repassing, to pass, navigate and frequent the ports, passes and territories, to the end, to transact his business where and in what manner he shall judge proper, whereof we shall be willingly indebted.

On August 30, 1784 The Empress of China reached Canton, China.  It would return to New York City months later filled with a cargo of spices, silks, exotic plants, new metal alloys and tea inspiring a host of US Merchants to enter into the Far East trade.

Mifflin chose not to serve his full one year term as President of the United States in Congress Assembled and resigned on June 3, 1784.  The following motion was entered in to the Journals of the United States in Congress Assembled on June 3, 1784:

Resolved, That the thanks of Congress be given to his Excellency Thomas Mifflin, for his able and faithful discharge of the duties of President, whilst acting in that important station

Thomas Mifflin interest in politics did not end with the Presidency.  He was a member of the Pennsylvania Legislature and was elected speaker in 1785. In 1787 Mifflin was elected as a delegate to the convention that framed the constitution of the United States. Mifflin attended regularly, but made no speeches and did not play a substantial role in the Convention. He was one of its signers of the US Constitution on September 17, 1787.

He was elected a member of the supreme executive council of Pennsylvania in 1788, succeeded to its presidency, and filled that office till 1790. He presided over the convention that was called to devise a new constitution for Pennsylvania in that year, was elected the first governor over Arthur St. Clair, and re-elected for the two succeeding terms of three years. He raised Pennsylvania's quota of troops for the suppression of the whiskey insurrection, and served during the campaign under the orders of Governor Henry Lee, of Virginia.  Governor Mifflin was a member of the American philosophical society from 1768 till his death.

Not being eligible under the constitution for a fourth term in the governor's chair, he was elected in 1799 to the assembly during which time he affiliated himself with the emerging Republican Party. Thomas Mifflin, like his colleague Thomas Jefferson was wealthy most of his life, but a copious spender. Demands from his creditors forced him to leave Philadelphia in 1799, and he died in Lancaster the following year at 56. Pennsylvania remunerated his burial expenses at the local Trinity Lutheran Church.

Thomas's cousin, Warner Mifflin, reformer, born in Accomae county, Virginia, 21 October, 1745 ; died near Camden, Delaware. 16 October, 1798, was the son of Daniel Mifflin, a planter and slave-owner, and the only Quaker within sixty miles of his plantation. The son early cherished an interest in behalf of the slaves. In giving an account of his conversion to anti-slavery views, he writes of himself: "About the fourteenth year of my age a circumstance occurred that tended to open the way for the reception of those impressions which have since been sealed with indelible clearness on my understanding. Being in the field with my father's slaves, a young man among them questioned me whether I thought it could be right that they should be toiling in order to raise me, and that I might be sent to school, and by and by their children must do so for mine. Some little irritation at first took place in my feelings, but his reasoning so impressed me as never to be erased from my mind. Before I arrived at the age of manhood I determined never to be a slave-owner."

Nevertheless, he did become the owner of slaves-some on his marriage through his wife's inheritance, and others from among his father's, who followed him to his plantation in Delaware, whither the son had removed and settled. Finally, determining that he would "be excluded from happiness if he continued in this breach of the divine law," he freed all his slaves in 1774 and 1775, and his father followed the example. The son, on the day fixed for the emancipation of his slaves, called them one after another into his room and informed them of his purpose to give them their freedom, and this is the conversation that passed with one of them : "Well, my friend James," said he, "how old art thou? I am twenty-nine and a half years, master." "Thou should'st have been free, as thy white brethren are, at twenty-one. Religion and humanity enjoin me this day to give thee thy liberty; and justice requires me to pay thee for eight years and a half service, at the rate of ninety-one pounds, twelve shillings, and sixpence, owing to thee; but thou art young; and healthy; thou had'st better work for thy living; my intention is to give thee a bond for it, bearing interest at seven and a half percent. Thou hast now no master but God and the laws."

From this time until his death his efforts to bring about emancipation were untiring. Through his labors most of the members of his society liberated their slaves. He was an elder of the Society of Friends, and traveled from state to state preaching his anti-slavery doctrines among his people, and in the course of his life visited all the yearly meetings on the continent. He was much encouraged in his work by the words of the preamble of the Declaration of Independence. Referring to these, he writes : "Seeing this was the very substance of the doctrine I had been concerned to promulgate for years, I became animated with hope that if the representatives were men, and inculcated these views among the people generally, a blessing to this nation would accompany these endeavors."

In 1782 he appeared before the legislature of Virginia, and was instrumental in having a law enacted that admitted of emancipation, to which law may be attributed the liberation of several thousand Negroes. In 1783 he presented a memorial to congress respecting the African slave-trade, and he subsequently visited, in the furtherance of his work, the legislatures of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware. In 1791 he presented his noted "Memorial to the President, the Senate, and the House of Representatives of the United States" on the subject of slavery, and, on account of some reflections that were cast on him, he published a short time afterward his serious expostulations with the house of representatives in relation to the principles of liberty and the inconsistency and cruelty of the slave-trade and slavery. These essays show the undaunted firmness and zeal of the writer, his cogent reasoning and powerful appeals to the understanding and the heart.

From conviction he was against war, and on principle opposed the Revolution. On the day of the battle of Germantown he was attending the yearly meeting of the Quakers at Philadelphia, and the room in which they were assembled was darkened by the smoke of the battle. At this meeting the Friends renewed their "testimony" against the spirit of war, and chose Mifflin to undertake the service of communicating it to General Washington and General Howe. To perform this duty, he had to walk in blood and among the dead bodies of those that had fallen in the fight. In his conversation with Washington he said : "I am opposed to the Revolution and to all changes of government which occasion war and bloodshed." After Washington was elected president, Mifflin visited him in New York, and in the course of the interview the president, recollecting an assertion of Mifflin's at Germantown, said: "Mr. Mifflin, will you please tell me on what principle you were opposed to the Revolution?" "Yes, Friend Washington, upon the principle that I should be opposed to a change in the present government. All that was ever gained by revolution is not an adequate compensation for the poor mangled soldiers, for the loss of life or limb." To which Washington replied: "I honor your sentiments; there is more in that than mankind have generally considered." With reference to Mifflin, Brissot, in his "Examination of the Travels of Chastellux in America," says: "I was sick, and Warner Mifflin came to me. It is he that first freed all his slaves; it is he who, without a passport, traversed the British army and spoke to General Howe with so much firmness and dignity; it is he who, fearing not the effects of the general hatred against the Quakers, went, at the risk of being treated as a spy, to present himself to General Washington, to justify to him the conduct of the Quakers; it is he that, amid the furies of war, equally a friend to the French, the English, and the Americans, carried succor to those who were suffering. Well! this angel of peace came to see me."

 



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Thomas Mifflin

MIFFLIN, Thomas, soldier, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1744; died in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 20 , January, 1800. He was graduated at Philadelphia college in 1760, entered a counting-house, travelled in Europe in 1765, and on his return engaged in commercial business in partnership with a brother. In 1772 and 1773 he was a representative in the legislature, and in 1774 was one of the delegates sent to the Continental congress, and served on important committees. When the news came of the fight at Lexington he eloquently advocated resolute action in the town-meetings, and when troops were enlisted he was active in organizing and drilling one of the first regiments, and was made its major, thereby severing his connection with the Quaker society, in which he was born and reared. General Washington chose .him as his first aide-de-camp, with the rank of colonel, soon after the establishment of his headquarters at Cambridge. While there he led a force against a British detachment. In July, 1775, he was made quartermaster-general of the army, and, after the evacuation of Boston by the enemy, was commissioned as brigadier-general, 19 May, 1776. He was assigned to the command of a part of the Pennsylvania troops when the army lay encamped before New York, and enjoyed the particular confidence of the commander-in-chief. His brigade was described as the best disciplined of any in the army. In the retreat from Long Island he commanded the rear-guard, and through a blunder received the order to cover the retreat before all of the troops had embarked, but, after marching his men to the ferry, regained the lines before the enemy discovered that the post was deserted. In compliance with a special resolve of congress, Mifflin resumed the duties of quarter-master-general. In November, 1776, he was sent. to Philadelphia to represent to congress the critical condition of the army, and to excite the patriotism of the Pennsylvanians. After listening to him, congress appealed to the militia of Philadelphia and the nearest counties to join the army in New Jersey, sent to all parts of the country for re-enforcements and supplies, and ordered Mifflin to remain in Philadelphia for consultation and advice. He organized and trained the three regiments of associators of the city and neighborhood, sending a body of 1,500 to Trenton. In January, 1777, accompanied by a Committee of the legislature, he made the tour of the principal towns of Pennsylvania, and by his stirring oratory brought recruits to the ranks of the army. He came. up with re-enforcements before the battle of Princeton was fought. In recognition of his services, congress commissioned him as major-general on 19 February, and made him a member of the board of war. He shared the dissatisfaction at the "Fabian policy" of Gem Washington, and sympathized with the views of General Horatio Gates and General Thomas Conway, but afterward declared that he had not shared in the desire to elevate the former to the supreme command. The cares of his various offices so impaired General Mifflin's health that he offered his resignation, but, congress refused to accept it. When the friends of Washington overcame the Conway cabal, Mifflin was replaced by General Nathanael Greene in the quartermaster's department in March, 1778, and in October he and Gates were discharged from their places on the board of war. An investigation of his conduct was ordered by congress in consequence of charges that the distresses of the army at Valley Forge were due to the mismanagement of the quartermaster-general. When the decree was revoked, after he had himself demanded an examination, he resigned his commission, but congress again refused to accept it, and placed in his hands $1,000,000 to settle outstanding claims. In January, 1780, he was appointed on a board to devise means for retrenching expenses. After the achievement of independence he was elected to congress, was chosen its president, 3 November, 1783, and, when Washington resigned his commission as general of the army, replied to him in eulogistie terms. He was a member of the legislature in 1785, and was elected speaker. In 1787 he was a delegate to the convention that framed the constitution of the United States, and was one of its signers. He was elected a member of the supreme executive council of Pennsylvania in 1788, succeeded to its presidency, and filled that office till 1790. He presided over the convention that was called to devise a new constitution for Pennsylvania in that year, was elected the first governor over Arthur St. Clair, and re-elected for the two succeeding terms of three years. He raised Pennsvlvania's quota of troops for the suppression of the whiskey insurrection, and served during the campaign under the orders of Governor Henry Lee, of Virginia. Not being eligible under the constitution for a fourth term in the governor's chair, he was elected in 1799 to the assembly, and died during the legislative session Governor Mifflin was a member of the American philosophical society from 1768 till his death.--Thomas's cousin, Warner, reformer, born in Accomae county, Virginia, 21 October, 1745 ; died near Camden, Delaware. 16 October, 1798, was the son of Daniel Mifflin, a planter and slave-owner, and the only Quaker within sixty miles of his plantation. The son early cherished an interest in behalf of the slaves. In giving an account of his conversion to anti-slavery views, he writes of himself: "About the fourteenth year of my age a circumstance occurred that tended to open the way for the reception of those impressions which have since been sealed with indelible clearness on my understanding. Being in the field with my father's slaves, a young man among them questioned me whether I thought it could be right that they should be toiling in order to raise me, and that I might be sent to school, and by and by their children must do so for mine. Some little irritation at first took place in my feelings, but his reasoning so impressed me as never to be erased from my mind. Before I arrived at the age of manhood I determined never to be a slave-owner." Nevertheless, he did become the owner of slaves-some on his marriage through his wife's inheritance, and others from among his father's, who followed him to his plantation in Delaware, whither the son had removed and settled. Finally, determining that he would "be excluded from happiness if he continued in this breach of the divine law," he freed all his slaves in 1774 and 1775, and his father followed the example. The son, on the day fixed for the emancipation of his slaves, called them one after another into his room and informed them of his purpose to give them their freedom, and this is the conversation that passed with one of them : "Well, my friend James," said he, "how old art thou? I am twenty-nine and a half years, master." "Thou should'st have been free, as thy white brethren are, at twenty-one. Religion and humanity enjoin me this day to give thee thy liberty; and justice requires me to pay thee for eight years and a half service, at the rate of ninety-one pounds, twelve shillings, and sixpence, owing to thee; but thou art young" and healthy; thou had'st better work for thy living; my intention is to give thee a bond for it, bearing interest at seven and a half percent. Thou hast now no master but God and the laws." From this time until his death his efforts to bring about emancipation were untiring. Through his labors most of the members of his society liberated their slaves. He was an elder of the Society of Friends, and travelled from state to state preaching his anti-slavery doctrines among his people, and in the course of his life visited all the yearly meetings on the continent. He was much encouraged in his work by the words of the preamble of the Declaration of Independence. Referring to these, he writes : "Seeing this was the very substance of the doctrine I had been concerned to promulgate for years, I became animated with hope that if the representatives were men, and inculcated these views among the people generally, a blessing to this nation would accompany these endeavors." In 1782 he appeared before the legislature of Virginia, and was instrumental in having a law enacted that admitted of emancipation, to which law may be attributed the liberation of several thousand negroes. In 1783 he presented a memorial to congress respecting the African slave-trade, and he subsequently visited, in the furtherance of his work, the legislatures of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware. In 1791 he presented his noted "Memorial to the President, the Senate, and the House of Representatives of the United States" on the subject of slavery, and, on account of some reflections that were cast on him, he published a short time afterward his serious expostulations with the house of representatives in relation to the principles of liberty and the inconsistency and cruelty of the slave-trade and slavery. These essays show the undaunted firmness and zeal of the writer, his cogent reasoning and powerful appeals to the understanding and the heart. From conviction he was against war, and on principle opposed the Revolution. On the day of the battle of German-town he was attending the yearly meeting of the Quakers at Philadelphia, and the room in which they were assembled was darkened by the smoke of the battle. At this meeting the Friends renewed their "testimony" against the spirit of war, and chose Mifflin to undertake the service of communicating it to General Washington and General Howe. To perform this duty, he had to walk in blood and among the dead bodies of those that had fallen in the fight. In his conversation with Washington he said : "I am opposed to the Revolution and to all changes of government which occasion war and bloodshed." After Washington was elected president, Mifflin visited him in New York, and in the course of the interview the president, recollecting an assertion of Mifflin's at Germantown, said: "Mr. Mifflin, will you please tell me on what principle you were opposed to the Revolution?" "Yes, Friend Washington, upon the principle that I should be opposed to a change in the present government. All that was ever gained by revolution is not an adequate compensation for the poor mangled soldiers, for the loss of life or limb." To which Washington replied: "I honor your sentiments; there is more in that than mankind have generally considered." With reference to Mifflin, Brissot, in his "Examination of the Travels of Chastellux in America," says: "I was sick, and Warner Mifflin came to me. It is he that first freed all his slaves; it is he who, without a passport, traversed the British army and spoke to General Howe with so much firmness and dignity; it is he who, fearing not the effects of the general hatred against the Quakers, went, at the risk of being treated as a spy, to present himself to General Washington, to justify to him the conduct of the Quakers; it is he that, amid the furies of war, equally a friend to the French, the English, and the Americans, carried succor to those who were suffering. Well! this angel of peace came to see me."

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright © 2001 VirtualologyTM

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