Thursday, November 1, 2012

President Thomas Mifflin

President Thomas Mifflin
Click Here to view the US Mint & Coin Acts 1782-1792
Fifth President of the United States 
in Congress Assembled
November 3, 1783 to November 2, 1784

Copyright © Stan Klos, President Who? Forgotten Founders 2004 & 2008 

Thomas Mifflin of Pennsylvania was the Fifth United States in Congress Assembled President (USCA President), serving under the Articles of Confederation from November 3, 1783 until November 2, 1784. Mifflin's Congressional session first convened at the Maryland State House in Annapolis on December 13, 1783 and concluded its business on June 3, 1784.

Mifflin was born in Philadelphia on January 10, 1744. He graduated in 1760 from the College of Philadelphia (University of Pennsylvania). In 1772 he became a member of the Pennsylvania colonial Assembly, where he served until 1774. That year, Mifflin, Charles Thomson and Joseph Reed actively called for delegates to be appointed to a Continental Congress. Mifflin was chosen to attend the First Continental Congress in 1774 and the Second in 1775, both in Philadelphia, while Charles Thomson was selected to be the first (and only) Secretary of Congress, serving from 1774 until March 3, 1789. In 1775, the United Colonies Continental Congress created the Continental Army and commissioned Mifflin, who became General George Washington’s aide-de-camp. Later that year he was appointed by Washington to be the Army’s first Quartermaster General. In late 1777 Mifflin was involved in the “Conway Cabal” controversy when he agreed with Brig. General Conway’s suggestion, in a letter to Congress, that General Horatio Gates should replace George Washington as Commander-in-Chief. Washington stayed, while Mifflin and Gates were discharged from their places on the congressional War Board in 1778.

After the war, Mifflin returned to Congress in 1782. Mifflin was elected USCA President while Congress was in session at Princeton.  The USCA Journals record that a  number of Congressional Delegates met on November 26th, according to adjournment, but there not being a sufficient number of states assembled to proceed to business, Congress was adjourned from day to day, till December 13th, 1783, when seven states finally formed a quorum at the Maryland State House in Annapolis.  Ironically, on December 23, 1783, President Mifflin,  accepted George Washington’s resignation as Commander-in-Chief of the United States Military before a seven state quorum of Congress.

It was not until January 14, 1784, that Congress formed the required Nine State Quorum to ratify the Treaty of Paris.  On that date after ratification,  President Mifflin and Secretary Charles Thomson signed the Treaty of Paris Proclamation and then sent three signed copies on three separate ships to Great Britain to insure its arrival before the endorsement deadline. 

While Mifflin was President, Congress notably  issued ships papers for the first trade mission to China, appointed Thomas Jefferson a minister to France, elected John Jay Secretary of Foreign Affairs, accepted Virginia's western land secession and passed the Ordinance of 1784, which was the first step to creating a Northwest Territorial Government

From 1785 until 1788, Mifflin served in the Pennsylvania Assembly holding the position of Speaker, attended the Constitutional Convention and signed the Constitution. Mifflin then became President of Pennsylvania from 1788  until 1790 (following Benjamin Franklin), and continued as Pennsylvania’s first governor from 1790 until 1799, during most of President Washington’s two terms of office. 

Thomas Mifflin died on January 20, 1800, 37 days after the death of Washington and is buried at the Lutheran Church of the Holy Trinity in downtown Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Students and Teachers of US History this is a video of Stanley and Christopher Klos presenting America's Four United Republics Curriculum at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. The December 2015 video was an impromptu capture by a member of the audience of Penn students, professors and guests that numbered about 200.

Presidents of the United States in Congress Assembled
March 1, 1781 to March 3, 1789

March 1, 1781
July 6, 1781
July 9, 1781
Declined Office
July 10, 1781
November 4, 1781
November 5, 1781
November 3, 1782
November 4, 1782
November 2, 1783
November 3, 1783
June 3, 1784
November 30, 1784
November 22, 1785
November 23, 1785
June 5, 1786
June 6, 1786
February 1, 1787
February 2, 1787
January 21, 1788
January 22, 1788
January 21, 1789

Mifflin was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on January 10, 1744 to Philadelphia City Alderman John Mifflin[1] and Elizabeth Bagnall. Thomas, a fourth generation Philadelphia Quaker, attended the Academy and College of Philadelphia (University of Pennsylvania) of which his father was a trustee.  Upon graduation in 1760, through his father’s mercantile contacts, he secured a position as an apprentice at an important Philadelphia mercantile house that was owned by William Coleman:

William Coleman, an important Patriot, built his one and one-half story Georgian-style summer home, servant’s house and stable in 1756-58 on 12 acres of land. Coleman was a highly educated and successful merchant who ended his career as a justice of the provincial Pennsylvania Supreme Court. William Coleman and his wife Hannah raised their orphaned nephew George Clymer. Clymer became a distinguished Patriot and signer of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Benjamin Franklin, a close and long-standing friend, said of Coleman, “He has the coolest, clearest head, the best heart, and the exactest morals of almost any man I ever met.”[2]

In 1764 Mifflin travelled throughout Europe in the course of the mercantile business and made key business contacts with French and London merchants including David Barclay.[3] In France he was schooled in French and riding. In a December letter to Jacob Lewis,  Mifflin found it necessary to profess his preference for America stating that  “all the charms of that country [France]  have had no effect than in making me better pleased with the simple and honest manners of my countrymen."  

Upon his return to Philadelphia in 1765, Mifflin founded an import and export business with a younger brother George Mifflin.[4]  The store was located at the corner of Front and Chestnut Streets specializing in East Indian and European goods including ozanbrigs trousers and Irish linens.[5] Mifflin's entrepreneurial pursuits were responsible for the formulation of his initial objections and protests of Parliament's taxation policy. In his first year as a Philadelphia Importer he publicly spoke and campaign against Great Britain's initial attempts to levy taxes on the colonies.   In support of 1765 Stamp Act Congress, Mifflin supported and signed the non-importation agreement.  He quickly became a leader among other Philadelphia Whig merchants opposing the Townshend Acts (1767) and in boycotting English goods.

In 1765 he began courting his distant cousin, Sarah Morris, the daughter of Morris and Susannah Morris. Mifflin, by numerous accounts, “was remarkably handsome, though his stature did not exceed five feet eight. His frame was athletic, and capable of bearing much fatigue. His manners were cheerful and affable; his elocution open, fluent, and distinct.”  He won Susannah’s heart and they were married on March 4, 1767 at the Fairhill Meetinghouse in Philadelphia.  According to John Adams, Sarah was “a charming Quaker girl."[6]  In 1767 he also  joined the American Philosophical Society, served as its Secretary for two years and remained a distinguished member until 1799.

Mifflin was a very active citizen in colonial Philadelphia being elected Pennsylvania Hospital’s manager and also serving as the Director of Library Company of Philadelphia (1768-1770).  In 1771 Mifflin ran and won election as a Philadelphia's warden, who had supervision over the watch and street lighting.   He was also a member of the Hand-in-Hand Fire Company and a subscriber to the City Tavern which would host many unofficial gatherings of the Continental Congress during the U.S. founding period.

On the weekends, Thomas and Sarah would often escape to their country place at the Schuylkill Falls that had a windmill pumping water into his garden which was a local attraction to boaters along the river.[7]  Even in the winter the Mifflin’s would escape the city to the Schuylkill River residence where he would often spend time ice skating with neighbors.

In 1772 he began the first of four uninterrupted terms in the Pennsylvania Colonial State Legislature of Pennsylvania. The following year Mifflin and Sarah travelled to New England to attend the funeral of his mother who was born and raised in Boston.  Here, Mifflin met Merchant John Hancock and political activist  Samuel Adams.  Mifflin was able to observe firsthand that British taxes and unjust laws had a devastating effect on these fellow merchants colonial businesses.

The couple also made the acquaintance of John and Abigail Adams and sat for a portrait accomplished by John Singleton Coplet.  Adams wrote of meeting the Mifflins:

Drank Tea at Dr. Coopers with Mr. Adams, Mr. S. Elliot, Mr. T. {p. 84} Chase, and with Mr. Miffling [Mifflin], of Phyladelphia, and a French Gentleman. Mr. Mifflin is a Grandson, his Mother was the Daughter, of Mr. Bagnall of this Town, who was buried the day before Yesterday. Mr. Mifflin is a Representative of the City of Philadelphia—a very sensible and agreeable Man. Their Academy emits from 9 to 14 Graduates annually. Their Grammar School has from 90 to 100 scholars in all. Mr. Mifflin is an easy Speaker—and a very correct Speaker.[8]

Portrait of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Mifflin is an oil on ticking by, John Singleton Copley, Circa 1772 – image courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Returning home to Philadelphia, Mifflin organized several Pennsylvania town meetings to support Boston's resistance to the Coercive Acts. In these meetings Mifflin argued that although the British acts only applied to Boston, in reprisal to the "Tea Party," successful implementation would embolden Parliament to tax all the other colonial ports in North America.  Mifflin’s reputation as a merchant leader was greatly enhanced due to these efforts and his personal association with John Hancock, John and Samuel Adams. Mifflin’s standing won him an appointment to the first Continental Congress in 1774.  At 30 years of age, he was the youngest member of the Philadelphia delegation that included the venerable Benjamin Franklin, aged 68.

Mifflin, due to the influence of John and Samuel Adams, became one the most radical members of the First Continental Congress. In his youthful enthusiasm, when word reached Philadelphia the New England Delegates were approaching Philadelphia, Mifflin rode out of town to greet them on a hot August day.  John Adams wrote of his approach to Philadelphia:

We then rode to the red Lion and dined. After Dinner We stopped at Frankfort [Frankford] about five Miles out of Town. A Number of Carriages and Gentlemen came out of Philadelphia to meet us. Mr. Thomas Mifflin, Mr. McKean of the Lower Counties, one of their Delegates, Mr. Rutledge of Carolina, and a Number of Gentlemen from Philadelphia. Mr. Folsom and Mr. Sullivan, the N. Hampshire Delegates. We were introduced to all these Gentlemen and most cordially welcomed to Philadelphia.[9]

Thomas and Sarah Mifflin often entertained the New England Delegates at their house which John Adams described as "grand, spacious, and elegant."   Adams wrote:

 Walked a little about Town. Visited the Markett, the State house, the Carpenters Hall where the Congress is to Sit, &c—then call'd at Mr. Mifflins—a grand, spacious, and elegant House. Here We had much Conversation with Mr. Charles Thompson [Thomson], who is it seems about marrying a Lady a Relation of Mr. Dickensons with 5000£. st[erling]. This Charles Thompson is the Sam. Adams of Phyladelphia—the Life of the Cause of Liberty, they say. [10]

Three days before the First Continental Congress Delegates would convene at Carpenters’ Hall, John Adams again was entertained at the Mifflin’s residence:

Dined at Mr. Thom. Mifflins with Mr. Lynch, Mr. Middleton, and the two Rutledges with their Ladies. The two Rutledges are good Lawyers. Govr. Hopkins and Govr. Ward were in Company. Mr. Lynch gave us a Sentiment “The brave Dantzickers, who declare they will be free in the face of the greatest Monarch in Europe.”—We were very sociable, and happy. After Coffee We went to the Tavern, where we were introduced to Peyton Randolph Esqr., Speaker of Virginia, Coll. Harrison, Richard Henry Lee Esq., and Coll. Bland. Randolph is a large, well looking Man. Lee is a tall, spare Man. Bland is a learned, bookish Man. These Gentlemen from Virginia appear to be the most spirited and consistent, of any. Harrison said he would have come on foot rather than not come. Bland said he would have gone, upon this Occasion, if it had been to Jericho.[11]

That evening, Adams again found himself at the Mifflins writing on Caesar Rodney’s apple size head and Delegate Rutledge’s inarticulate way of speaking through his nose:

Spent the Evening at Mr. Mifflins with Lee and Harrison from Virginia, the two Rutledges, Dr. Witherspoon, Dr. Shippen, Dr. Steptoe, and another Gentleman. An elegant Supper, and We drank Sentiments till 11 O Clock. Lee and Harrison were very high. Lee had dined with Mr. Dickenson, and drank Burgundy the whole Afternoon. Harrison gave us for a Sentiment “a constitutional Death to the Lords Bute, Mansfield and North.” Paine gave us “May the Collision of british Flint and American Steel, produce that Spark of Liberty which shall illumine the latest Posterity.”2 Wisdom to Britain and Firmness to the Colonies, may Britain be wise and America free. The Friends of America throughout the World. Union of the Colonies. Unanimity to the Congress. May the Result of the Congress, answer the Expectations of the People. Union of Britain and the Colonies, on a Constitutional Foundation—and many other such Toasts. Young Rutledge told me, he studied 3 Years at the Temple. He thinks this a great Distinction. Says he took a Volume of Notes, which J. Quincy transcribed. Says that young Gentlemen ought to travel early, because that freedom and Ease of Behaviour, which is so necessary, cannot be acquired but in early Life. This Rutledge is young—sprightly but not deep. He has the most indistinct, inarticulate Way of Speaking. Speaks through his nose—a wretched Speaker in Conversation. How he will shine in public I dont yet know. He seems good natured, tho conceited. His Lady is with him in bad Health. His Brother still maintains the Air of Reserve, Design and Cunning—like Duane, and Galloway, and Bob Auchmuty. Caesar Rodney is the oddest looking Man in the World. He is tall—thin and slender as a Reed—pale—his Face is not bigger than a large Apple. Yet there is Sense and Fire, Spirit, Wit and Humour in his Countenance. He made himself very merry with Ruggles and his pretended Scruples and Timidities, at the last Congresss. Mr. Reed told us, at dinner, that he never saw greater Joy, than he saw in London when the News arrived that the Nonimportation agreement was broke. They were universally shaking Hands and Congratulating each other. He says that George Haley is the worst Enemy to America that he knew there—swore to him that he would stand by Government in all its Measures, and was allways censuring and cursing America.[12]

On Sunday evening, the night before the delegates were to meet in the morning at the City Tavern and walk over to Carpenters’ Hall, John Adams notes that “Mr. Mifflin spent the evening with us at our lodgings.”

On the morning of September 5, 1774 the delegates, upon entering Carpenters’ Hall, declined Speaker of the House Joseph Galloway’s offer to convene at the Philadelphia State House (Independence Hall).  The members convened, elected Peyton Randolph their President or presiding officer and the First United American Republic [13] was born.  The gathering would later name itself the Continental Congress of the United Colonies of North America. 

Mifflin’s business and patriotic fervor was embraced by his fellow Delegates as the members appointed him to serve on numerous important committees.  Shortly after the First Continental Congress went into session elections were held for the State Assembly.  John Adams wrote to Abigail about Mifflin’s reelection:

The Spirit and Principles of Liberty, here, are greatly cherished, by our Presence and Conversation. The Elections of the last Week in this City, prove this. Mr. Dickenson was chosen almost unanimously a Representative of the County. The Broadbrims began an opposition to your Friend Mr. Mifflin, because he was too warm in the Cause. This instantly alarmed the Friends of Liberty and ended in the Election of Mr. Mifflin, by Eleven hundred Votes out of thirteen, and in the Election of our Secretary Mr. Charles Thompson to be a Burgess with him. This is considered here as a most compleat and decisive Victory in favour of the American Cause. And it [is] said it will change the Ballance in the Legislature here against Mr. Galloway who has been supposed to sit on the Skirts of the American Advocates. [14]

In Congress, one Mifflin committee founded a Continental Association to enforce its resolutions which created an embargo against English goods. In the deliberations over the trade sanctions, Mifflin proposed the “stoppage of Flax seed and Lumber to the West Indies,” adding that the “Non Importation of dutied Articles to commence 1st Aug. 1775.”[15]  

It was not all business during the First Continental Congress as Adams recalls in this outing to the country:

Attended my Duty on the Committee, untill one O Clock, and then went with my Colleagues and Messrs. Thompson and Mifflin to the Falls of Schuylkill, and viewed the Museum at Fort St. Davids, a great Collection of Curiosities. [16]

The Society of Fort St. David was a fishing club with a house near the Falls of Schuylkill. At the falls there was a small Museum filled principally with indigenous people’s antiquities.   The following day Adams recalls that Mifflin was a spirited speaker in congress:

The Deliberations of the Congress, are spun out to an immeasurable Length. There is so much Wit, Sense, Learning, Acuteness, Subtilty, Eloquence, &c. among fifty Gentlemen, each of whom has been habituated to lead and guide in his own Province, that an immensity of Time, is spent unnecessarily. Johnson of Maryland has a clear and a cool Head, an extensive Knowledge of Trade, as well as Law. He is a deliberating Man, but not a shining orator—His Passions and Imagination dont appear enough for an orator. His Reason and Penetration appear, but not his Rhetoric. Galloway, Duane, and Johnson, are sensible and learned but cold Speakers. Lee, Henry, and Hooper [are] the orators. Paca is a deliberater too. Chase speaks warmly. Mifflin is a sprightly and spirited Speaker. John Rutledge dont exceed in Learning or oratory, tho he is a rapid Speaker. Young Edward Rutledge is young, and zealous—a little unsteady, and injudicious, but very unnatural and affected as a Speaker. Dyer and Sherman speak often and long, but very heavily and clumsily.[17]

The debates resulted in the passage of the Articles of Association on October 20, 1774. The colonies believed that Great Britain would redress their grievances, enumerated in the Articles of Association, only after they imposed economic sanctions.  

With this important measure behind them, Congress began debating the letters that were to be sent to King George III and the people of Quebec.  Adams writes:

In Congress, nibbling and quibbling—as usual. There is no greater Mortification than to sit with half a dozen Witts, deliberating upon a Petition, Address, or Memorial. These great Witts, these subtle Criticks, these refined Genius's, these learned Lawyers, these wise Statesmen, are so fond of shewing their Parts and Powers, as to make their Consultations very tedius. Young Ned Rutledge is a perfect Bob o' Lincoln—a Swallow—a Sparrow—a Peacock—excessively vain, excessively weak, and excessively variable and unsteady—jejune, inane, and puerile. Mr. Dickinson is very modest, delicate, and timid. Spent the Evening at home. Coll. Dyer, Judge Sherman and Coll. Floyd came in and spent the Evening with Mr. Adams and me. Mr. Mifflin and General Lee came in. Lee's Head is running upon his new Plan of a Battallion.[18]

The letters were passed and the First Continental Congress adjourned on October 26th resolving to meet again in May 1775 should the King and Parliament not remedy their grievances.   Delegate Mifflin’s fervor and close ties with the Massachusetts delegation insured his re-election to the Second Continental Congress in the spring of 1775.

When the news of the Lexington battle reached Philadelphia in April 1775, Mifflin advocated resolute action to all who would listen.   He, still a Quaker, attended many Pennsylvania town-meetings supporting colonial armed resistance. His direct involvement in recruiting armed patriots was most potent. Together, he and John Dickinson were instrumental in reviving the volunteer colonial Associators defense force that resisted the French in the Seven Years’ War.[19] All of this work occurred while he was serving as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress which had convened in the Pennsylvania State House on May 10, 1777. 

Once the troops were enlisted, Mifflin was elected a Major becoming active in organizing and drilling the 3rd Philadelphia Battalion. This was an action that spoke volumes to his commitment to colonial self-government and its defense.  Mifflin was one of the few legislators ready to substitute Continental Congress ballots with bullets in aid to Boston. John Adams, who had returned as a Massachusetts delegate to the Second Continental Congress wrote:

The military Spirit which runs through the Continent is truly amazing. This City turns out 2000 Men every day. Mr. Dickinson is a Coll.—Mr. Reed a Lt. Coll.—Mr. Mifflin a Major. He ought to have been a Genl. for he has been the animating Soul of the whole. Coll. Washington appears at Congress in his Uniform and, by his great Experience and Abilities in military Matters, is of much service to Us. Oh that I was a Soldier!—I will be.—I am reading military Books.—Every Body must and will, and shall be a soldier.[20]

On June 14, 1775 the Second Continental Congress created the Colonial Army as a national armed force.   After the appointment of George Washington as Commander-in-Chief, the Delegates began to debate commissions for other officers. John Adams recalls Delegate Thomas Mifflin weighing in on the second in command behind Washington:  

The next Question was who should be the Second Officer. General Lee was nominated, and most strenuously Urged by many, particularly Mr. Mifflin who said that General Lee would serve cheerfully under Washington, but considering his Rank, Character and Experience could not be expected to serve under any other. That Lee must be aut secundus, aut nullus.— To this I as strenuously objected.[21] 

Mifflin resigned as a Continental Congress delegate enlisting into the Pennsylvania Militia with the rank of major to serve under the new Commander-in-Chief, General Washington. Washington knew Mifflin as a fellow delegate and promoted him as his first aide-de-camp on June 23rd.   John Adams wrote to James Warren on the loss of Mifflin as a fellow delegate:

Major Mifflin goes in the Character of Aid de Camp to General Washington. I wish you to be acquainted with him, because, he has great Spirit Activity, and Abilities, both in civil and military Life. He is a gentleman of Education, Family and Fortune.[22]

In a letter to Nathanael Greene, Adams went even further praising Washington’s promotion of Thomas Mifflin: 
Mifflin, was a Gentleman of Family, and Fortune in his Country, of the best Education and Abilities, of great Knowledge of the World, and remarkable Activity. Besides this, the Rank he had held as a Member of the Legislature of this Province, and a Member of Congress, and his great Merit in the civil Department, in Subduing the Quaker and Proprietarian Interests added to the Tory Interests of this Province to the American system of Union, and especially his <surprising> Activity and success in infusing into this Province a martial Spirit and Ambition which it never felt before, were thought Sufficient Causes for his Advancement.[23]

In a letter to Abigail, he writes of Major Mifflin and the Generals leaving Philadelphia for Boston and news on the Battle of Bunker Hill:  

I have this Morning been out of Town to accompany our Generals Washington, Lee, and Schuyler, a little Way, on their Journey to the American Camp before Boston. The Three Generals were all mounted, on Horseback, accompanied by Major Mifflin who is gone in the Character of Aid de Camp. All the Delegates from the Massachusetts with their Servants, and Carriages attended. Many others of the Delegates, from the Congress—a large Troop of Light Horse, in their Uniforms. Many Officers of Militia besides in theirs. Musick playing &c. &c. Such is the Pride and Pomp of War. I, poor Creature, worn out with scribbling, for my Bread and my Liberty, low in Spirits and weak in Health, must leave others to wear the Lawrells which I have sown; others, to eat the Bread which I have earned.—A Common Case. We had Yesterday, by the Way of N. York and N. London, a Report, which distresses us, almost as much as that We had last fall, of the Cannonade of Boston. A Battle at Bunkers Hill and Dorchester Point—three Colonels wounded, Gardiner mortally. We wait to hear more particulars. Our Hopes and our Fears are alternately very strong. If there is any Truth in this Account, you must be in great Confusion.[24]

On July 3, George Washington, with Thomas Mifflin as his aide, arrived in Cambridge, Massachusetts and presented his Commander-in-Chief credentials to the Massachusetts Militia who had successfully confined the British to Boston since April 19, 1775.   Washington took charge of new Continental Army setting up his headquarters at 105 Brattle Street in Cambridge.  The Continental Congress’ Declaration of Arms proved fruitful as supplies and troops began pouring into the military works surrounding Boston from all parts of the colonies.   Washington began the work of organizing militias from numerous colonies into an army by appointing senior officers (as opposed to militia elected officers), standardizing officer uniforms, drilling, and improving the siege works around Boston.  Washington, with the arrival of about 2,000 Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia long range riflemen,  positioned sharpshooters at key vantage points to harass and pick-off British regulars from their lines surrounding Boston.

Meanwhile, back in Philadelphia, the Quaker congregation who had admonished Mifflin in March 1775 for his actions in raising troops for the Pennsylvania Militia, brought the Major’s standing before a meeting house gathering.  The charges were "joining with and promoting measures pursued by the People for asserting their Civil privileges in such manner as are inconsistent with our Peaceable Profession & Principles” and they were not denied by Major Mifflin. On July 27, 1775 Thomas Mifflin was disowned by the Quakers of Philadelphia.   

On August 14th, recognizing Mifflin’s talents as a savvy businessman and a popular officer, Washington appointed him Quartermaster General of the Continental Army.  As the first Quartermaster General Mifflin went about his work procuring and allotting supplies to the military forces.  

The difficult position of Quartermaster-General he assigned to Mifflin. The duties were new and arduous. Everything was in confusion. Order had to be established, system to be inaugurated, and a vigilant watchfulness maintained that the army should want for nothing which could contribute to its efficiency and to its comfort.[25]

During this period Mifflin lived up to Washington’s expectations minimizing price gauging by war profiteers that had characterized eighteenth-century procurement efforts during the French and Indian War. 

During the siege, Major Mifflin participated in a skirmish with the British when they attempted to seize Continental Army cattle.   On November 12, 1775 Abigail  Adams wrote to John Adams:

I have nothing remarkable to write you. A little Skirmish hapned last week. The perticuliars I have endeavourd to collect, but whether I have the facts right I am not certain. A Number of Cattle were kept at Leachmores point where two Centinals were placed, in a high tide this an Island. The Regulars had observed this and a Scheme was laid to send a Number of them over and take of the Stock. Accordingly a number of Boats and about 400 men were sent; they landed it seems, unperceived by the Centinals who were a sleep; one of whom they killed the other took prisoner. As soon as they were perceived, they pouredd the cannon from Prospect Hill upon them which sunk one of their Boats, but as the tide was very high, it was difficult getting over, and some time before any alarm was given. A Coll. Tomson of the Riffel Men, Marchd instantly with his Men, and tho a very stormy day, regarded not the tide, nor wated for Boats, but Marchd over, neck high in water, and dischargd their peices, when the Regulars ran without waiting for to get of their Stock, and made the best of their way to the opposite Shore. The General sent his thanks in a public manner to the brave officer and his Men. Major Mifflin I hear was there, and flew about as tho he would have raisd the whole Army.[26]

George Washington reported the action to John Hancock, the President of the Continental Congress as thus:

Yesterday I had a proof of it, as a party of the Enemy, about four or five hundred taking the advantage of the High Tide, landed at Leechmore's point, which at that time was in effect an Island, we were alarmed, and of course ordered every man to examine his cartouch Box, when the Melancholy Truth appeared, and we were Obliged to furnish the greater part of them with fresh ammunition. The Damage done at the point was the taking of a Man, who watched a few Horses and Cows, Ten of the latter they carried of Colonel Thompson marched down with his Regiment of Riflemen and was joined by Colonel Woodbridge with a part of his and a part of Patterson's regiment, who gallantly waded through the water and soon obliged the Enemy to embark under cover of a Man of War, a Floating Battery and the Fire of a Battery on Charles Town Neck. We have two of our Men dangerously Wounded by grape shot from the Man of War and by a Flag out this day we are informed the Enemy lost two of their Men.[27]

Although Mifflin was not mentioned in Washington’s letter his actions were deemed heroic by other with the Pennsylvania Gazette reporting on November 29, 1775 reported:

“Extract of a letter from an Officer of distinction in the American Army near Boston, dated November 15, 1775.” It stated that “We had a skirmish the other day on Litchmore point with General Clinton and a body of his myrmidons. Col. Thompson and his riflers acquitted themselves most nobly. Our friend MIFFLIN played the part of himself—that is of a HERO.”

Another account reports:
 Mifflin solicited and obtained the command of a party to oppose them, and succeeded, with half-disciplined militia, in repelling the regular soldiery. An eye-witness, the aged and venerable General Craig, declared to the writer, that he ' “never saw a greater display of personal bravery than was exhibited on this occasion in the cool and intrepid conduct of Colonel Mifflin." [28]' 

In early December 1775 Abigail Adams answered Sarah Mifflin’s request to join her, the Major and others for an afternoon coffee in their Boston residence.   Abigail wrote John Adams the following day remarking on the infertility and delicate nature of Sarah and of her admiration of Major Mifflin: 

I had received a Message from Mrs. Mifflin some time agone desireing I would visit her. My Pappa who you know is very obliging in this way accompanied me, and I had the pleasure of drinking coffe with the Dr. and his Lady, the Major and his Lady and a Mr. and Mrs. Smith from New York,  A daughter of the famous Son of Liberty Capt. Sears,  General Gates and Lee, a Dr. McHenery  and a Mr. Elvin,  with many others who were strangers to me.  … Major Mifflin you know I was allways an admirer of, as well as of his delicate Lady. I beleive Phyladelphia is an unfertile soil, or it would not produce so many unfruitfull women. I always conceive of these persons as wanting one addition to their happiness, but in these perilous times I know not whether it ought to be considerd as an infelicity, since they are certainly freed, from the anxiety every parent must feel for their rising ofspring.[29]

The November skirmish, Mifflin’s good work as Washington’s Quartermaster General resulted in his promotion to Colonel on December 22, 1775.   

During the winter, there was little opportunity for Colonel Mifflin to distinguish himself further in battle.  His role as quartermaster general, however, remained herculean as he was responsible for supplying the troops during a very cold 1775-76 winter siege of Boston. John Adams had the occasion of dining with Colonel Mifflin and General Washington during the winter siege writing:

I then went to Cambridge where I dined at Coll. Mifflins with the General, and Lady, and a vast Collection of other Company, among whom were six or seven Sachems and Warriours, of the French Cagnawaga Indians, with several of their Wives and Children. A savage Feast they made of it, yet were very polite in the Indian style. One of these sachems is an Englishman a Native of this Colony whose Name was Williams, captivated in his Infancy with his Mother, and adopted by some kind Squaw—another I think is half french Blood.  I was introduced to them by the General as one of the grand Council Fire at Philadelphia which made them prick up their Ears, they came and shook Hands with me, and made me low Bows, and scrapes &c. In short I was much pleased with this Days entertainment.[30]

During the winter, George Washington sought the establishment of a Congressional Board to coordinate the war effort with the Commander-in-chief. On January 24, 1776, Congressional delegate Edward Rutledge, echoing General George Washington's words, proposed that a war office be established similar to Great Britain.  No action was taken until the 26th when the Continental Congress appointed a committee "to repair to New York, to consult and advise ... respecting the immediate defense of the said city."[31]

In late February, Mifflin was assigned the responsibility for providing the necessary transportation of the captured Fort Ticonderoga cannons to key Continental Army siege positions around Boston.  On March 2, the Fort Ticonderoga cannons began firing on British positions forcing them to scramble deeper into the town limits to avoid the shells of the long range cannons.  On March 5, on the orders of Commander-in-Chief Washington, Colonel Mifflin led his transport crews[32]  in their mission to move the heavy Fort Ticonderoga artillery onto Dorchester Heights.   This was a strategic move that ended Britain's occupation in Boston.

John Sullivan reported, on March 15th, to Delegate John Adams in Philadelphia:

Dear Sir I had not time on the 15 Inst. to finish my Letter and now beg Leave to give you Some further Intelligence viz. on Saturday Evening our People took possession of Nook Hill near Boston. They5 Continued a Cannonading all night without hurting a Man. In the morning they found the Approaches So near and being Suspicious that we were about taking possession of Noddles Island they Embarked Early on Sunday morning and fell Down to the Castle. We Saw the Ships under way about 8 in the morning and the River full of Boats with Armed Soldiers. This gave an Alarm as Some Suspected they were about to Land at Dochester but having a full view of them with a Glass from Plowed Hill I found they were going on board the Ships. I then took my Horse and Rode Down to Charlestown Neck where I had a Clear view of Bunkers Hill. I Saw the Sentrys Standing as usual with their Firelocks Shouldered but finding they never moved I Soon Suspected what Regiment they belonged to and upon taking a Clear view with my Glass found they were only Effigies Set there by the flying Enemy. This Convinced me that they were Actually fled for if they meant to Decoy us they would have taken away Every appearance of Men. By this time I was Joined by Colo. Mifflin who with my Brigade Major agreed to go up Sending two persons Round the works to Examine whether there was any of them in the Rear of the works while we went up in the front. I at the Same time Sent for a Strong party to follow us on to the Hill to assist us in Running away (if necessary). We found no persons there and bravely Took a fortress Defended by Lifeless Sentries. I then brought on the party to Secure what we had So bravely won and went Down to the other works where we found all Abandoned but the works not Injured in any part. We hailed the ferry Boat which came over and Informed us that they had abandoned the Town. We then gave Information to the General who ordered me with the Troops under my Command to take possession of Charlestown and General Putnam with 2000 men to take possession of the works in Boston and on Monday morning his Excellencey Make his Entry into Boston and Repaired to Mr. Hancocks House where we found his Furniture Left without Injury or Diminution. [33]

Commander-in-Chief Washington reported to President John Hancock in a March 19, 1776 letter:

 Sir: It is with the greatest pleasure I inform you that on Sunday last the 17th. Instant, about 9th O'Clock in the forenoon the Ministerial Army evacuated the Town of Boston, and that the Forces of the United Colonies are now in actual Possession thereof. I beg leave to congratulate you Sir, and the Honorable Congress on this happy event, and particularly as it was effected without endangering the Lives and property of the remaining unhappy Inhabitants.[34]

Sir William Howe's account of the evacuation, in a March 21, 1776 letter to the Earl of Dartmouth, reports:

 On the 2d inst. at night they began a cannonade upon the town; the same was repeated on the evening of the 3d and 4th. On the 5th in the morning it was discovered that the enemy had thrown up three very extensive works with strong abatties on the commanding hills on Dorchester Neck, which must have been the employment of at least 12,000 men. In a situation so critical I determined upon immediate attack; the ardour of the troops encouraged me in this hazardous enterprise, and regiments were expeditiously embarked on board transports to fall down the harbour; but the wind unfortunately coming contrary and blowing very hard the ships were not able to get to their destination.…The weather continuing boisterous the next day and night gave the enemy time to improve their works, to bring up their cannon, and to put themselves into such a state of defense that I could promise myself little success by attacking them under such disadvantages; wherefore I judged it most advisable to prepare for the evacuation of the town.…This operation was effected on the 17th, and all the rear guard embarked at 9 o'clock in the morning, without the least loss, irregularity or accident."

With Boston secured, Colonel Mifflin’s next task was to manage the complex logistics of moving Continental Army troops and supplies south to defend New York harbor from an invasion of British regulars.  

In the summer of 1776, the important port of New York Harbor was limited to lower Manhattan Island and it was here that George Washington order General Charles Lee to begin the building defenses for the Continental Army.  Lee ordered barricades and redoubts built in and around the city.  He also built along a bastion, called Fort Stirling, on Brooklyn Heights from which troops combed Long Island clearing out Loyalist and procuring supplies. 

In early May, Washington arrived in New York to unfinished works, an undermanned army, and troops too concentrated on Manhattan Island. Washington ordered that several thousand men be moved to Long Island and begin the construction of three more forts on eastern side of Brooklyn  to support Fort Stirling.

In that same month, Congress considered the promotion of Thomas Mifflin to brigadier general.  John Adams led the effort writing to Abigail on May 15, 1776:

We have been very busily engaged for 4 or 5 days in procuring Assistance for Boston. Congress has at last voted three Additional Battalions for Boston and that the five old ones be filled up, and we shall send you a Major General and a Brigadier General—Gates and Mifflin I hope but can’t promise.[35]

On May 16th the Continental Congress elected Horatio Gates a Major General and Thomas Mifflin a Brigadier General.  The final decision on the appointments, however, rested with George Washington and on the 16th the five Massachusetts delegates signed a letter informing Washington of their preference stating “that no officers in the Service would be more agreeable to us” than Gates and Mifflin.  Washington agreed[36] and Mifflin was relieved of his quartermaster duties and assigned to command Pennsylvania troops while the army was encamped in New York.   There was dissension on Mifflin’s appointment by New England Delegates who believed their colonels were more deserving of the promotion. Adams wrote defending Mifflin’s appointment to James Ward. 

You Speak of a General Mifflin who was young in experience, and in the Service. I wish our Massachusetts Collonels, old as they are, had as much Activity, and as extensive Capacities and Accomplishments as that young General. However he is not so very young. He is old in Merit in the American Cause. He has the utmost Spirit and Activity, and the best Education and Abilities. He is of one of the best Families and has an handsome Future in his Country. He has been long a Member of the Legislature here, and of Congress. He was long the most indefatigable and successful Supporter of the American Cause in this Province, where it has laboured more than anywhere else. He was the prime Conductor, and the Center of Motion to that association, which has compleated the Reduction of this Province to the American Union, and has infused a martial Spirit into a People who never felt any Thing like it before. You can Scarcely name a Man, anywhere who has more Signal Merit.[37]

On the promotion of Horatio Gates, Adams provides us with an inside look into New York politics and his adversary Alexander Hamilton.  

Horatio Gates Esqr. was elected a Major General and Thomas Mifflin Esqr. Brigadier General. I take Notice of this Appointment of Gates, because it had great Influence on my future fortunes. It soon occasioned a Competition between him and Schuyler, in which I always contended for Gates, and as the Rivalry occasioned great Animosities among the Friends of the two Generals, the consequences of which are not yet spent. Indeed they have affected the Essential Interests of the United States and will influence their ultimate Destiny. They effected an Enmity between Gates and Mr. Jay who always supported Schuyler, and a dislike in Gates of Hamilton who married Schuylers daughter, with which Mr. Burr wrought so skillfully as to turn the Elections in New York not only against Hamilton but against the Federalists, and whatever Hamilton may have pretended, I am persuaded that the decided part I had acted and the free Speeches I had made in Congress against Schuyler and in favour of Gates, had been rankling in Hamiltons heart from 1776 till he wrote his Libel against me in 1799. Gates's Resentment against Jay, Schuyler and Hamilton made him turn in 1799 against me, who had been the best Friend and the most efficacious Supporter he ever had in America. I had never in my Life any personal Prejudice or dislike against General Schuyler: on the contrary I knew him to [be] industrious, studious and intelligent: But the New England Officers, Soldiers and Inhabitants, knew Gates in the Camp at Cambridge. Schuyler was not known to many and the few who had heard of him were prejudiced against him from the former French War. The New England Soldiers would not enlist to serve under him and the Militia would not turn out. I was therefore under a Necessity of supporting Gates. Mr. Duane, Mr. Jay, Colonel Harrison &c. supported Schuyler. There is no difficulty therefore in Accounting for Hamiltons ancient any more than his modern Malice against me.

On June 12, 1776, Congress passed a resolution to establish the Board of War. Five delegates of Congress were initially appointed; John Adams, Roger Sherman, Benjamin Harrison, James Wilson, and Edward Rutledge.  The Board was assisted by a permanent secretary, Richard Peters. The Board of War began functioning on June 21st, 1776 assuming the prescribed responsibilities for compiling a master roll of all Continental Army officers; monitoring returns of all troops, arms, and equipment; maintaining correspondence files, and securing prisoners of war.  

On June 29th, the British fleet appeared and by that evening 45 British ships were anchored in Lower New York Bay just off Staten Island. By week’s end there were 130 ships and on July 2nd, British troops began to land on Staten Island. The few Continental regulars stationed on the island resisted but they were no match for General Howe’s thousands of British Regulars and they fled the island.  Those who remained in the Staten Island citizen's militia switched over to the British side.  Ships continued to arrive and by mid-August the British fleet numbered over 400 ships and 32,000 troops who were all camped on Staten Island. 

General Mifflin, in his assessment of his situation to Elbridge Gerry, motivated the delegate to write John Adams:

The fourth Thing is an Augmentation of the Army at New York. By undoubted Intelligence it is the Intent of the Enemy to aim at taking a Ridge about 12 Miles from Kings Bridge which runs from River to River and thus endeavour to cut of[f] the Communication between the Camp and the eastern Colonies. General Mifflin is of opinion that 5000 Men added to the 25000 already ordered here will enable the General to possess himself of the Ridge, and I am certain that not a Man less will answer the purpose. It is not worthwhile to starve the Campaign for such an inconsiderable Number, and I am for bringing them from the NE Colonies and letting the Army know that we expect them to beat these Fellows at all Events. I cannot see the Necessity of keeping two Regiments at Rhode Island and am for ordering one of them to this place.[38]

Washington, who was promised 28,000 troops, managed to muster fewer than 19,000 troops to defend New York.  The bulk of Continental troops, however, were colonial militiamen that were undisciplined, under armed, and ill trained.  General Mifflin was assigned, along with his three companies, to Fort Washington where they prepared defenses. Major Alexander Grayton, who served and did not like General Mifflin recalls:

We were here under the command of General Mifflin, and immediately employed in the construction of that fortress, under the direction of Colonel Putnam, who, as already mentioned, was our principal engineer; and, considering his want of experience, not destitute, perhaps, of merit in his profession.  ... The intelligence proved untrue, if such, indeed, had been received. But it is not improbable that it was merely a contrivance of General Mifflin, to inure us to alarms, and render us alert, objects that, to a certain extent, were not without utility; but the General was a bustler, who harassed us unnecessarily; and, considering the unavoidable severity of our duty, to the real injury of the health of the troops. His manners were better adapted to attract popularity than to preserve it. Highly animated in his appearance, and possessing, in an eminent degree, the talent of haranguing a multitude, his services, in giving motion to the militia, were several times, in the course of the war, felt and acknowledged; but, that he was equally calculated to keep alive military ardour and confidence, cannot be affirmed. He was full of activity, and apparently of fire; but it rather resembled the transient blaze of light combustibles, than the constant steady flame of substantial fuel; though, in saying this, it should be mentioned, that I have no ground to insinuate that his fortitude was not equal to any demand that might have been made upon it. He assumed a little of the veteran, from having lain before Boston; was very fond of telling us that he would bring us into a scrape; and it must be confessed, that he was considerably happy in the display of that apathy to human carnage which is affected by great commanders, in the spirit of which the great Frederick tells us, that, "When sovereigns play for provinces, the lives of men are but as counters." So much 'tis better to direct the game than be a component part of its machinery! But whatever might have been Mifflin's deficiencies, he had many qualifications for his station that too many others, placed in higher ones, wanted.[39]

In early August Mifflin took time to write John Adams concerning a soldier who was ordered to his command by Congress:

Camp at Mount Washington1 August 5th. 1776 Dear Mr. Adams Monsieur Weibert who was orderd by Congress to this Post has requested me to apply in his Behalf to you for Rank and pay in our Army; and has desird me to give you my Opinion of his Conduct and Services. Monsieur Weibert is in my Opinion a Gentleman of much Knowledge in his profession. He has been very, attentive to the perfecting this post and has never absented himself One Hour from his Duty once he arrivd here. Whoever is to command here, while the Works are incompleat, will find Monsieur of infinite Service to him. As a Man of Science and Business I think he is further entitled to the pay of Lieutenant Colonel.  Rank no Doubt is his principal Object. Indeed it is essential to the Service as he cannot otherwise command Captains and Subalterns who Superintend work, or Fatigue, parties. The Rank and pay of Lt Col may not be too great a Reward for his Services. The whole however is submitted to you at his Request to solicit or not as you think proper.[40]

On August 22, the British invaded the southwest shore of Long Island, about ten miles south from the East River. On August 27th the British feigned a main army attack on the Continental works on the Guan Heights.  During the attack, Howe’s main army circled around the Continental Army’s rear lines and attacked their flank.  All but 400 Maryland troops panicked and fled.   The Maryland long range riflemen stood their ground stalling the British flanking move enabling most of the army to reassemble at Washington’s main defenses on Brooklyn Heights.   The British dug in for a siege surrounding Washington and his Continental forces that were trapped with their backs against the East River.  A bold British Naval maneuver could have easily wiped them out.

The British siege operations included the digging of trenches that slowly came closer to American defenses. Washington ordered General Thomas Mifflin and his 1,200 man force to cross the East River and join him at Brooklyn Heights.  Upon his arrival, General Mifflin volunteered to inspect the Continental Army’s outer defenses and the British siege preparations on the rainy afternoon of August 28th.   Mifflin assessed the situation while Washington harassed the British siege crews with cannon bombard well into the night.  

General Mifflin reported back to Washington that evening advising his  position was untenable and retreat across the East River was the best course of action.  Orders went out to General William Heath stationed at Kings Bridge (the Bronx)  to commandeer and send every flat bottomed boat or sloop without delay. At 4:00 p.m., on August 29th, Washington held a council with his generals. Mifflin repeated his earlier advice to Washington for a full retreat across the East River to Manhattan.  The generals agreed with Mifflin’s recommendation and the evacuation was ordered.  

Mifflin and his two Pennsylvania Regiments were ordered to make up the rear guard, while his Massachusetts regiment, who were mainly sailors and fisherman, were assigned the duty of ferrying troops across the East River into Manhattan. Five hours into retreat there was confusion in orders sent to Thomas Mifflin who remained on the front lines with his men tending to fires and all the other feign duties necessary to mask the Continental Army’s retreat to Manhattan.

At two o'clock the next morning Scammell, an aid to Washington, came to General Mifflin and told him that the boats were waiting to carry the troops over. Mifflin told him he must be mistaken, that the commander-in-chief could not mean the troops under his command. Scammell assured him that he did, and General Mifflin then ordered Colonel Hand to call in his advance pickets and march to the ferry. Ere long he halted, to take up his camp equipage, when General Mifflin came up and asked him why he had halted. After explaining, General Mifflin exclaimed: "Damn your pots and kettles! I wish the devil had them! March on!" Hand obeyed, but he had not gone far when he met Washington. "Is not this Colonel Hand?" Receiving an affirmative answer, Washington expressed his surprise that he had abandoned his post. He denied that he had done so.

That moment General Mifflin came up and Washington exclaimed: "Good God! General Mifflin; I am afraid you have ruined us by so unseasonably withdrawing the troops from the lines." General Mifflin replied, "I did it by your order." Washington said this could not be. Mifflin swore, "By God, I did," and asked, "Did Scammell act as an aid-de-camp for the day, or did he not?" Washington acknowledged that he did thus act, and then Mifflin told him that he received his orders through Scammell.

Washington declared it was a dreadful mistake, that matters were in confusion at the ferry, and that unless Hand could resume his post before the enemy discovered his absence the consequences would be "most disagreeable." Happily this was done, and the retreat was accomplished in safety. By six o'clock on the morning of the 30th the whole army of nine thousand men was safe in New York. Washington with his staff was on horseback all night and never left the ferry steps at Brooklyn until the last soldier had departed.[41]

Upon learning of Thomas Mifflin’s role in the Long Island evacuation, Joseph Ward wrote John Adams:

Far be it from me to derogate from the merits of the celebrated General; he has great merit and deserves the esteem of his Country. I believe he fills the rank he now holds with dignity, and that it was wise to appoint him to the command of the Troops of his own State.[42]

The British, outsmarted, remained in Long Island until September 15 preparing for an assault on Manhattan.  On that date they landed in force at Kip’s Bay and overran Manhattan with the exception of Harlem Heights.  Samuel Parsons gives this account in a letter to John Adams:

Before landing at Kip's Bay (about the foot of what is now 34th St.) on 15 Sept., the British laid down a very heavy raking fire from their warships in the East River. When British soldiers debarked from transports, appearing out of the smoke of the naval guns, Connecticut militia under the command of Col. William Douglas fled without firing a shot. Their panic was communicated to Gen. John Fellows' brigade of Massachusetts militia and from them to Gen. Parsons' Connecticut Continental regiments. Gen. Washington, who had ordered Fellows and Parsons to move up to the support of the units stationed along the river, reported later that the two generals did their best to form their men into a holding line but that they could not stop the panic.  The brigade under General Parsons were soon obliged to retire from the waterside, and give ground for the enemy to land. General Mifflin immediately marched from Mount Washington with a thousand men, to the ground near and below this place [Harlem], where he made a stand, threw up some works, rallied our retreating troops, and in an hour after had the principal part of our army (who were stationed below us) drawn up in good order on the heights”[43]

The Continental Army Harlem Heights position now under the command of General George Washington, Major General Nathanael Greene, and Major General Israel Putnam, totaled around 2,000 men. Together, they held their high ground position in Harlem against the advancing 5,000 man British division.   By flanking the superior British forces, Washington’s troops pushed the British back.   The surprised British troops withdrew into lower Manhattan joining Howe’s main force. This proved to be Washington’s first battlefield victory of the war. 

The British soldiers, who poured into lower Manhattan, where regrouping when a fire broke out at Fighting Cocks Tavern, near Whitehall Slip.  The fire burnt wildly and  destroyed nearly a quarter of buildings on Manhattan Island. British leaders accused the colonial rebels of the treachery.  Royal Governor William Tryon believed that Washington was responsible, writing that "Many circumstances lead to conjecture that Mr. Washington was privy to this villainous act"[44] and that "some officers of his army were found concealed in the city."  The Americans, on the other hand, accused the British of setting the fire in hopes that that the city would be plundered. A Hessian major noted that some who fought the blaze managed to "pay themselves well by plundering other houses nearby that were not on fire."[45] The residents, whose property was either burned or plundered, assumed that one side or the other had started it. After the fire, Nathan Hale was executed for spying. 

Meanwhile, Congress was livid over the loss of wagons containing most of the Continental Army's powder, baggage and critical supplies that fell into to the hands of advancing British troops in both Long Island and Manhattan. After a three-day congressional investigation the committee recommended that quartermaster Moylan, who was given the difficult task to protect the British controlled waterways, resign his office. In an effort to restore order and the morale of the soldiers, General Mifflin was re-appointed Quartermaster General by a special resolve of Congress. This new assignment bitterly disappointed Mifflin.  General Nathanael Greene, despite Mifflin’s heroic actions in Boston, Long Island, and Harlem, emerged as Washington's principal military adviser.  This was a role which Mifflin coveted.

George Washington did not object to Mifflin's re-assignment and the disgruntled quartermaster assumed the mundane duties of protecting and delivering the supply necessary for the Continental Army to conduct the war. The Journals of the Continental Congress report:

Resolved, That Brigadier General Mifflin be authorized and requested to resume the said office, and that his rank and pay, as brigadier, be still continued to him. 

That a committee of three four be appointed to confer with Brigadier General Mifflin: The members chosen, Mr. Richard Henry Lee, Mr. Roger Sherman, Mr. John Adams, and Mr. Elbridge Gerry.” [46]

In late October, General Mifflin was sent to Philadelphia to report to the Continental Congress on the critical condition of the army.  While Mifflin was in Philadelphia, British General William Howe landed troops in Westchester County, intending to cut off Washington's escape route from New York. Washington retreated out of New York City and onto a hilltop just outside of White Plains, NY.   Unable to hold the high ground, Howe’s forces once again outflanked Washington whose troops were forces into a fighting retreat north of White Plains.  267 British and Hessians were killed, wounded or missing at White Plains but the true numbers on American losses remain uncertain as reports varied wildly, ranging from 150 to 500 being killed, wounded and captured. On November 16, 1776 the Continentals once again engaged the British in New York and lost Fort Washington forcing the battered army’s retreat into New Jersey.

It was a wise move by the Commander-in-Chief to send General Mifflin to rally Philadelphia, as Congress was preparing to take flight to Baltimore. Washington's Continental Army was soon forced south through northern and central New Jersey.  Finally the Continental Army, numbering about 1000 men, were forced to cross the Delaware into Pennsylvania to avoid annihilation.  It was then that the citizens of Philadelphia began to panic. Business was suspended, schools were closed and agitated Patriots and Tories gathered in the streets. As news of the Continental Army's plight filtered in, roads leading from the city were crowded with refugees all fleeing the city.

In the Pennsylvania Statehouse square, a town meeting was called and General Thomas Mifflin addressed the crowd and much of Continental Congress. After listening to his appeals for unity and support, Congress stayed their ground long enough to issue resolutions calling for the militia of Philadelphia and those in the nearest counties to join Washington's beleaguered Army. Congress also sent word to all parts of the country for reinforcements and supplies, and then ordered Mifflin to remain in Philadelphia for consultation and advice.

Mifflin organized and trained three regiments of militia of the city and adjoining neighborhoods, and sent a body of men to Washington. The General also orchestrated the complex re-supply of the Washington's ragged American forces once they reached safety on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River. These Mifflin measures were critical components needed by Washington who forces, even with Mifflin’s fresh Philadelphia recruits, amounted to 2400 men.    

In a surprise attack, the Continental Army led by George Washington crossed the Delaware River and attacked the winter quarters of a brigade composed primarily of German troops from Hesse-Kassel in Trenton, New Jersey on December 26th. The Hessian brigade, under the command of Colonel Johann Rall, was defeated and he died of wounds sustained in the battle.  The Hessian forces suffered 22 fatalities, 83 serious injuries, and 896 captures. The Americans suffered only two fatalities and five injuries from war wounds.  Further to the south Washington’s plan to surprise  and capture more British forces was foiled by ice:

Washington ordered General Cadwalader with his brigade to cross the river at Dunk's Ferry, and advance on the enemy under Count Donop at Mount Holly, Bordentown, Burlington and Black Horse, while General Ewing in command of the Flying Camp and New Jersey militia was to cross at Trenton landing, and prevent the Hessians in Trenton under Colonel Rahl from joining Colonel Donop. Washington himself crossed above Trenton, moved down on the other side and gained an important victory, taking nearly all of the Hessians prisoners. Colonel Hand's regiment participated in this action, and likewise Captain Forrest's company of Procter's Pennslvania Artillery with six pieces. The ice in the river prevented Cadwalader and Ewing from executing their part of the plan. Consequently Count Donop with the detachments farther down the river escaped to Princeton. "Otherwise," says Wilkinson, "these German cantonments would have been swept." General Cadwalader crossed near Bristol on the 27th and took a position at Crosswicks, "whilst a similar number," so Wilkinson says, "drawn by General Mifflin from the city and adjacent counties crossed at various places and rendezvoused at Bordentown about the same time."[47]

General Mifflin and his Philadelphia Associators met up with Washington just outside of Trenton.  Here the General fought with Washington and repulsed a British attack at Assunpink Creek in Trenton. That night Washington held a council of war. The Commander-in-Chief, at the suggestion of General Arthur St. Clair, decided to evacuate their Trenton position by circling around General Lord Cornwallis' forces and mounting an attack against the British garrison at Princeton.

The advanced Continental troops, under the command of Brigadier General Hugh Mercer, numbered 350 and clashed with two British regiments under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Charles Mawhood.  General Mercer’s horse was shot out from underneath him and he was quickly surrounded by British regulars because his men were overrun. Mercer, an old French and Indian War veteran, refused to surrender and was slashed repeatedly by numerous British soldiers.  Earlier, Washington had ordered the militia under Brigadier General John Cadwalader to support Mercer advance into Princeton.  When they came upon the flight of Mercer's men the militia turned in full retreat.

Washington with his Continental forces finally reached the engagement and rallied the fleeing militia to counter attack the British troops. A surprised Colonel Mawhood was force to order a retreat and most of his British Regulars fled to Cornwallis’ lines in Trenton. Brigadier General John Sullivan forces cut off retreating British troops who took refuge in Princeton’s Nassau Hall.  It was here the British surrendered ending the battle. Cornwallis, who now had intelligence of Washington’s action in Princeton, was on the move to engage the Continental Forces in Princeton. Americans, who were wary of the superior British Army in their rear, quickly gathered weapons from the battlefield and commandeered abandoned British supply wagons.   General Mercer, who was found mortally wounded on the battlefield was taken to a field hospital and died nine days later despite the best efforts of Dr. Benjamin Rush.

In planning his next move, Washington received intelligence that a British pay chest of 70,000 pounds was stored in New Brunswick, and he wanted to move north to capture the badly needed money.  Major Generals Henry Knox and Nathanael Greene advised against the maneuver and Washington moved his army first to the Somerset Courthouse and then to Morristown where he established a winter quarters in its hills.  

The battle at Princeton was Thomas Mifflin’s last major action in the 1776 campaign. One month later, during the week of February 17th, the Continental Congress debated at length on the rules that should govern the promotion of general officers.  The three areas of consideration were 1) Promotions following strict succession;   2) Promotions on merit; and 3) Promotions that met quotas for the states according to the number of troops raised by each.  

The debates were cantankerous as all three principles were taken into account by delegates who ardently favored one over another.   During that week, five men were raised to the rank of major general: William Alexander (Lord Stirling), Thomas Mifflin, Arthur St. Clair, Adam Stephen, and Benjamin Lincoln. Nine men were made brigadier generals: Enoch Poor, John Glover, John Paterson, Anthony Wayne, James M. Varnum, John P. De Haas, William Woodford, Peter Muhlenberg, and George Weedon.  

The new major generals, including Thomas Mifflin, were promoted ahead of men who had earned earlier commissions as brigadiers. Benjamin Lincoln, a general in the Massachusetts militia, had no Continental commission and Brigadier General Benedict Arnold, a Connecticut native, particularly felt the sting of being bypassed. 

In March, John Adams wrote John Avery of Mifflin’s assurances as quartermaster general:

The Hopes you give me, that our Quota will be ready in a few Weeks rejoices me much. We want nothing but an Army, now in the Field to answer our Purpose. I had this Morning the Pleasure of a Conversation with Major General Mifflin who assures me that he has Tents of the very best Quality, compleatly ready for an Army of 20,000 Men to take the Field, and that in three Weeks he shall have enough compleated for 10,000 more, that he has entrenching Tools enough compleated for the whole Army the whole Campaign. That he has Camp Kettles and Canteens enough—and that he has Horses, Waggons and Magazines of Forage ready, So that this Department, which was last Year in So much Disorder, which occasioned Us such Losses, of Men, Baggage and Stores is now in a good Arrangement, and promises, more Comfort to the Army.[48]

By early April, due to the expanding war theater, The Board of War came to realization that they could not keep pace with the volume of work.  The Board recommended that the Continental Congress create a permanent administrative body to coordinate and conduct the war with Washington and his generals.  Thomas Mifflin was a major supporter of this reorganization.

The popularity of General Mifflin in his home state of Pennsylvania had now extended into all the States.  In 1776 the General Thomas Mifflin Privateer, was commissioned in his honor and it was piloted by Captain Daniel McNeill.  Within one year, the General Thomas Mifflin’s war exploits against the British were remarkable to the extent that the French Navy exchanged of salutes with Captain McNeill at Brest, in the summer of 1777.  This naval signaling with the General Thomas Mifflin attributed France’s recognition of U.S. Sovereignty[49] well before the enactment of the Franco-American treaties.

All throughout the summer of 1777 British General William Howe attempted to draw George Washington and the Continental Army into a battle in northern New Jersey.   By June, intelligence reported that Howe, instead of meeting up with Burgoyne in the Hudson River Valley was preparing to invade Philadelphia.  John Adams wrote Abigail:

This Week has produced an happy Reconciliation between the two Parties in this City and Commonwealth, the Friends of the new Constitution and those who wish for Amendments in it. . . .Mifflin invited the People to assemble in the State House Yard, at the Desire of General Washington, who sent them an Account that the Motions of the Enemy indicated an intention to begin an Expedition, and that every Appearance intimated this City to be their Object.  Mifflin made an Harrangue, in which he applauded the Exertions of the Citizens last December, ascribed the successes of Trenton and Princeton to their Behaviour and exhorted them to the same Spirit, Unanimity and Firmness, upon this occasion. Advised them to choose their Officers, under the new Militia Law and meet him in the common on Fryday. The Citizens by loud shouts and Huzzas, promised him to turn out, and accordingly, they met him in great Numbers Yesterday. Mean Time, Generals Armstrong, Mifflin and Reed, waited on the Assembly, to interceed with them, to gratify those who wished Amendments in the Constitution with an Appeal to the People.[50]

Meanwhile, in the northern theater, with British General John Burgoyne and a powerful army on the march south from Canada, Congress had directed Major General St. Clair to defend this critical American fortress on Lake Champlain:

The Congress having received Intelligence of the approach of the Enemy towards Ticonderoga, have thought proper to direct you to repair thither without delay. I have it therefore in Charge to transmit the enclosed Resolve [not included], and direct that you immediately set out on the receipt hereof.[51]

The Americans had held the fort since May 1775 when Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold carried out their daring and famous raid. The victory, one of the few enjoyed by the Continentals in the early stages of the war, had as much psychological as strategic importance. To possibly lose Fort Ticonderoga to the British just two years later was an unappetizing prospect to Congress and all the people of the United States.

General St. Clair's prospects did not look bright. He took command of the garrison's 2,500 ragged troops on June 12th. Burgoyne's much stronger and well-disciplined force of over 7,000 British and Hessian troops attacked from the west via Mount Hope and from the east across Lake Champlain. Sensing he was about to be surrounded, St. Clair made the difficult decision to abandon the fort on July 5th and retreat southward. Not even a month into his command, St. Clair was forced to surrender America's most prized fortress. 

In a strange twist of fate, news of the fort’s easy capitulation convinced General William Howe that Burgoyne's force could manage without his assistance, and Howe turned his attention to Philadelphia instead of moving up the Hudson to link up with Burgoyne and St. Leger. Even George III got carried away when he learned of St. Clair's retreat, shouting "I have beat them! I have beat all the Americans!" [52]

 In August General Howe embarked his army on transports and landed them at the northern end of Chesapeake Bay near Elkton Maryland. Marching north towards Philadelphia the well-fortified British regulars easily routed light American forces in several skirmishes.  Washington was forced to defend Philadelphia and positioned the Continental Army behind Brandywine Creek. While General Wilhelm von Knyphausen and his 5,000 troops prepared to attack Washington at the Chadds Ford crossing, Howe secretly marched 15,000 troops further north and crossed the Brandywine beyond Washington's right flank.

Once again, poor intelligence resulted in Howe’s column surprising the Continental Army’s in rear of their right flank.  Washington ordered three divisions to stall 15,000 the British-Hessian regulars force near a Quaker meeting house.  After an arduous fight, Howe's wing broke through the newly-formed American right wing and General Knyphausen attacked Chadds Ford and crumpled the American left wing. Washington's army went into full retreat.  It was elements of Nathanael Greene's division that held off Howe's column long enough for Washington’s army to escape to the northeast. The defeat and subsequent maneuvers enabled the British to captured Philadelphia on September 26th.  

The Continental Congress, learning of the rout fled first to Lancaster, and then to York-town, Pennsylvania where the Subsequent provided a natural barrier to another British offensive.

National Collegiate Honor’s Council Partners in the Park Class of 2017 students at Fort Mifflin holding up a printing of the  Declaration of Independence Goddard Broadside. On January 18th, 1777, after victories at Trenton and Princeton, John Hancock's Congress ordered a true copy of the Declaration of Independence printed complete with the names of all the sign­ers. Mary Katherine Goddard, a Baltimore Postmaster, Printer and publisher, was given the original engrossed copy of the Declaration to set the type in her shop. A copy of the Goddard printing was ordered to be sent to each state so the people would know the names of the signers.  – For more information visit our National Park and NCHC Partners in the Park Class of 2017 website
 After General Sir William Howe's British-Hessian army occupied Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on September 26, 1777, it became necessary to supply his troops. Fort Mifflin on Mud Island in the middle of the Delaware and Fort Mercer at Red Bank, New Jersey, together with river obstructions and a small flotilla under Commodore John Hazelwood prevented the Royal Navy from shipping provisions into the city. With Philadelphia effectively blockaded by the Americans, the Howe brothers were forced to lay siege to Fort Mifflin in order to clear the river. A Hessian attempt to storm Fort Mercer failed with heavy losses on October 22 in the Battle of Red Bank. Two British warships which had run aground near Mud Island were destroyed the next day. General George Washington reinforced Fort Mifflin throughout the siege, but the garrison never numbered more than 500 men. After a few setbacks, the British finally assembled enough artillery and warships to bring Fort Mifflin under an intense bombardment beginning on November 10. No longer able to reply to the British bombardment, Thayer ordered the survivors to row across to New Jersey in the night and left the flag flying.  

National Collegiate Honor’s Council Partners in the Park Class of 2017 students at Fort Mifflin's Barracks, where the stayed for the PITP session from January 1 - 7, 2017. Heat was supplied by fireplace and undersized kerosene heaters. – For more information visit our National Park and NCHC Partners in the Park Class of 2017 website
The namesake of the Fort Mifflin, who was trying to manage logistical workload caused by 1777 expansion of the Continental Army, was overwhelmed with disgust at the loss of his estate and hometown of Philadelphia to the British occupation. Congress, earlier that year, had approved a new Quartermaster's Department to conduct the ever expanding war.  Mifflin had not fully implemented the reforms and changes before Philadelphia fell.  He, along with all the supporting governmental bodies, was forced to flee the city during the British occupation.  Dispirited, critical of Nathanael Greene, and falling out of favor with Washington, Thomas Mifflin resigned as quartermaster on October 8, 1777 claiming ill health.  Mifflin then retired to his 1200 acre farm in Reading, Pennsylvania and awaited the decision of Congress on his resignation.

On October 17, 1777, Congress approved a plan to reorganize the Board of War consisting of three permanent members, men who were not members of Congress, plus a clerical staff.  Congress greatly expanded the board's duties to include the supervising of military recruitment and production military armaments to conduct the war. The Board was designated as the official intermediary in dealing with the Army and the 13 states on military affairs.

On October 20, 1777 Congress received the news that General Burgoyne was defeated at Saratoga and surrendered to General Horatio Gates.  On October 21st with the news of Gates victory at Saratoga Benjamin Rush wrote John Adams.

My dear friend, I fear you will class me with the weeping philosophers of antiquity, but I cannot help it. He who can be happy while his country is wasting her blood, and treasure to no purpose must be more or less than a man. General Gates' unparalled success gave me great pleasure, but it has not obliterated the remembrance of the disorders I have seen in the army in this department. On the contrary I am more convinced than ever of the necessity of discipline and System in the management of our Affairs. I have heard several Officers who have served under General Gates compare his Army to a well regulated family. The same Gentlemen have compared Genl. Washington's imitation of an Army to an unformed mob. Look at the Characters of both! The one on the pinnacle of military glory—exulting in the Success of Schemes planned with wisdom, and executed with vigor  and bravery—and above all see a country saved by their exertions. See the Other out generaled and twice beated—obliged to witness the march of a body of men only half their number thro' 140 miles of a thick settled country—forced to give up a city the capital of a state and After all outwitted by the same Army in a retreat. If our Congress can witness these things with composure, and suffer them to pass without an enquiry I shall think we have not Shook off monarchical prejudices, and that like the Israelites of old we worship the work of our hands.

In the British army Pickets are relieved once or twice every day, and guards every two hours. In Genl. Washington's Army it is no uncommon thing for pickets to remain five days and guards 24 hours without a relief and destitute at the same time of provisions except such as they plunder or buy with their own money. This negligence is a fruitful Source of diseases in our Army.  In the British Army hospitals are never without Guards. In G W's Army Guards which might save the lives of hundreds are used to parade before the doors of our major Generals. One of them had no less than a Sergant and 18 men to guard himself, and his baggage thr'o this town.

There are nearly as many Officers as men in our Army. Every Regiment has a Surgeon with one or two mates. Each of these (Officers—Surgeons and mates) has a Servant drawn from the ranks to attend them who is always exempted on this Account from camp and field duty. I have been told the General has forbidden it a hundred times in General Orders—But the evil continues—and no wonder for Officers ride up to his Quarters with Soldiers behind them in the capacity of Servants. Some of the martinets in my department have trod in their footsteps. But I believe I have at the expence of the friendship of many of them put a stop to the evil. Who ever heard of an Army being disciplined by Orderly books? You might  as well think of conquering an enemy by writing letters at him.

Dont tell me that our Army has driven Howe out of Philadelphia. Gates has saved Pensylvania in the State of New York just as much of [as] Pitt conquered America in Germany. I have no Objection to our country's being delivered by a miracle provided we could secure perpetuity of them. I have never heard of but one city whose walls fell down at the blowing of a ram's horn. Military Skill—industry and bravery are the ordinary weapons made use off for that purpose. God alone I know must save us at last, but I wish for the future honor and, safety of our country he may do it thr'o the instrumentality of human Wisdom and human Virtue. A peace just now would leave us without Generals—Officers or Soldiers in the middle and Southern states, and if our deliverance is now accomplished, it has been effected thr'o the instrumentality of ignorance, idleness, and blunders. “A great and good God (says Genl. Conway in a letter to a friend) has decreed that America shall be free, or and weak counsellors would have ruined her long ago.”   …  Should not General Washington immediately demand the enlargement of Gen. Lee's person upon parole within Howe's lines? What honors, or marks of gratitude will you confer on Gates—Lincoln &c. Suppose you introduce a constellation to be worn on the breast containing 13 stars as a reward for military exploits?  But nothing but heaven can ever repay them for the Services they have rendered their country. God bless you!     PS: …  Genl Mifflin must not be suffered to resign his command in the Army. If he is—you will soon receive a hundred others.[53]

With Gates’ victory over Burgoyne the stage was now set for Washington detractors, which now included Major general Mifflin, to replace him as Commander-in-Chief.  On October 27th Rush again wrote Adams:

You know already my Opinion of the cause of the misfortunes which have befallen our troops, and that I have always ascribed them to Other sources than the negligence of Officers, or the Wickedness of Commissaries and Quarter masters General. Characters appear in One age, and are only to be known in Another. General CONWAY who was the nerves—MIFFLIN who was the Spirit—and LEE who was the Soul of our Army have all been banished from Head Quarters. The last has been most unjustly condemned by a Court Martial for saving our Army at Monmouth on the 28 of last June.3 Genl. Washington was his accuser.4 The congress I believe disapprove of the Sentence, but are so much Afraid of the workmanship of their own hands that they are afraid to reverse it. I blush for my Country when I tell you that several members of congress leave the house when the Affair is bro't on the carpet.[54]

John Adams, along with the other delegates, was not only in the throes of war but in a heated debate over the finalization of the Articles of Confederation.  Additionally, the day after Benjamin Rush wrote Adams, John Hancock resigned from the Presidency. John Adams, the leader of the powerful Adams-Lee Coalition,[55] decided to back Francis Lightfoot Lee as Hancock's successor. Henry Laurens, a merchant delegate from South Carolina who had emerged as a non-partisan leader in the drafting of the Constitution of 1777, did not support the Virginian’s nomination.  Instead, through an October 15th, 1777 motion, Laurens lobbied the Continental Congress Delegates to grant Hancock his earlier request for a two month leave of absence:  

Our President gave notice yesterday of his purpose to quit the Chair & Congress next week. I moved the House to intreat & solicit his continuance, to my surprise I was seconded & no more.[56]

Laurens measure was tabled and Hancock on October 29th vacated the Presidency. Secretary Charles Thomson assumed the chair that same afternoon to continue the debate on the Articles of Confederation.  Three days later, to Laurens astonishment, the chair nominated him to be the President of the Continental Congress. 

On November 1st, 1777 the vote was taken and with unanimous approval Laurens became the Second[57] President of the United States Continental Congress (Peyton Randolph and Henry Middleton were presidents of the United Colonies Continental Congress). This was a high tribute because Laurens was a freshman delegate and not a signer of the Declaration of Independence.  His character, independent thinking and merchant’s no nonsense approach to the constitutional debates so impressed the Delegates that he became the leading nominee.  It was widely believed that Laurens could lead this fledgling nation to complete the first constitution of the United States and win the war with Great Britain. Delegate Roberdeau wrote:

Henry Laurens, Vice President of South Carolina, a worthy, sensible, indefatigable Gentleman, was this day chosen by a unanimous vote, except his own, President of Congress. [58]

On November 1, 1777 the new President, Henry Laurens, issued a Thanksgiving Day Proclamation.  President Laurens next major order of business occurred on November 7, 1777, when the Continental Congress resolved:

Whereas, Major General Mifflin, by his letter of the 8th day of October last, has requested leave to resign his commissions of major general, and quarter master general in the army, on account of his ill state of health:

Resolved, That General Mifflin's resignation of his commission of quarter master general be accepted, but that his rank and commission of major general be continued to him, without the pay annexed to that office, until farther order of Congress.
Congress proceeded to the election of a Board of War, and the ballots being taken,

General Mifflin, Colonel Timothy Pickering, and Colonel Robert H. Harrison, were elected.[59]

Also on November 7th John and Samuel Adams were voted a “leave of absence to visit their families.”  Although the Board of War measure was now behind them the delegates remained in York for three more days resuming the work on finalizing the Articles of Confederation.  On November 10th John Adams left York traveling first to Lancaster and then to Thomas Mifflin’s farm in Reading where he spent the night.  At Reading John Adams paid Mifflin “92 dollars in Behalf of Mr. Hiltsheimer ... for keeping one Horse to the 11. Aug. and another to the 19. Septr.”[60]  There is no doubt the conversation between the two founders was over the Board of War and the northern army’s victory at Saratoga.

On November 15th, 1777, without much further debate the Articles of Confederation was passed by Congress.  The Perpetual Union of the United States of America was now in the womb of nations.  Its birth, however, required its ratification by all 13 States and this would not be realized until March 1, 1781 under President Huntington.  Henry Laurens would sign the document, not as President of the Continental Congress, but as a delegate from South Carolina when South Carolina formally ratified the Articles of Confederation on July 9, 1778. 

Upon learning of his appointment, Thomas Mifflin accepted the position and set off for York where he began to lobby Congress to expand the Board and appoint Horatio Gates as its President.  On November 24th the Journals of Congress state:

The Board of War reported, "That they have had a conference with General Mifflin on the late establishment made by Congress for conducting the war department, and are unanimously of opinion, that a sufficient number of commissioners have not been appointed for giving due weight to the execution of the regulations which may be recommended by the Board, and adopted by Congress, and particularly for enabling one of the board of commissioners to visit, from time to time, the different armies, posts, or garrisons, in order to see that the regulations adopted by Congress are carried into execution, and to examine what are the wants of the army, and what defects or abuses prevail, from time to time, in the different departments;"

Whereupon, That it would further greatly tend to facilitate the Business of the Department, especially at the commencement of the new Establishment, Prio Qu. to secure the Continuation of the Services of the Secretary of the late Board of War, who in their opinion has discharged the Duties of an arduous and complicated Department in its infant Stage, with Honour to himself, and much Disinterestedness, and with Fidelity and advantage to the Public.

The Board further beg leave to represent that General Mifflin has expressed a warm Solicitude that Major General Gates should be appointed President of this Board, 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; a Task in the opinion of this Committee more arduous and important, than the formation of any new Establishment, however wise it may be in Theory! On these principles your Committee are of opinion That two additional Commissioners should be appointed to execute the Department of the War Office in pursuance of the resolution of Congress of the 17th. of Octr. and that any three of the said Commissioners should be a Quorum to transact business, anything in the former resolutions respecting the Board to the contrary notwithstanding. …

Resolved, That  two additional commissioners be appointed to execute the department of the war office, in pursuance of the resolution of the 17 October last, and that any three of the said commissioners be a quorum to transact business, anything in the former resolutions respecting the Board to the contrary notwithstanding.[61]

Thomas Mifflin was successful and returned to the comforts of his Reading farm for the winter of 1777-1778 while George Washington and his troops suffered the indignities of Valley Forge.  Major Alexander Grayton, who served and did not like General Mifflin recalls:

The ensuing winter, at Reading, was gay and agreeable, notwithstanding that the enemy was in possession of the metropolis [Philadelphia]. The society was sufficiently large and select; and a sense of common suffering in being driven from their homes had the effect of more closely uniting its members. ... The variety and bustle they bring along with them give a spring to the mind; and when illumined by hope, as was now the case, they are, when present, not painful, and when past, they are among the incidents most pleasing in retrospection. Besides the families established in this place, it was seldom without a number of visitors, gentlemen of the army and others. Hence, the dissipation of cards, sleighing parties, balls, &c. was freely indulged.

General Mifflin, at this era, was at home, a chief out of war, complaining, though not ill, considerably malcontent, and apparently not in high favour at head-quarters. According to him, the ear of the commander-in-chief was exclusively possessed by Greene, who was represented to be neither the most wise, the most brave, nor most patriotic of counsellors. In short, the campaign, in this quarter, was stigmatised as a series of blunders; and the incapacity of those who had conducted it unsparingly reprobated. The better fortune of the northern army was ascribed to the superior talents of its leader; and it began to be whispered, that Gates was the man who should, of right, have the station so incompetently sustained by Washington. There was, to all appearance, a cabal forming for his deposition, in which, it is not improbable, that Gates, Mifflin, and Conway, were already engaged, and in which the congenial spirit of Lee, on his exchange, immediately took a share.[62]

The Adams-Lee Faction steadily worked to bring Congress to the opinion that the safety of the country demanded Horatio should replace George as Commander-in-Chief. The plot, however, had few active supporters in Congress and the Continental Army. Chief supporters of the scheme rounded off some impressive patriots supporting General Gates including James Lovell, Benjamin Rush, Thomas Mifflin and their organizer General Thomas Conway, a French officer of Irish lineage. Even John and Samuel Adams contributed powerfully to hostility against George Washington by ridiculing his "Fabian Policy" calling for "a short and violent war" and preaching according to Henry Laurens historian D. D. Wallace " … that the worship of a man amounted to amounted to the sin of idolatry which would certainly call down the curse of Heaven" [63]

John Adams exclaimed on the repulse of the British from Delaware River Forts:

Thank God the glory is not immediately due to the Commander-in-Chief, or idolatry and adulation would have been so excessive as to endanger our liberties. [64]

As the attacks on Washington mounted the plotters made wild charges of his incompetence. It was asserted that cowardice restrained Washington from driving General Howe out of Philadelphia in 1777 even though he had two to three times more forces than the British. For example, James Lovell the delegate from Massachusetts maintained that Washington marched his army up and down with no other purpose then to wear out their clothing, shoes, and stockings. The facts on this particular case, however, were that General Howe's foraging parties had greater numbers than Washington's entire army encamped in Valley Forge.  An attack on Philadelphia would have decimated the Continental Army. 

Lovell wrote again to Samuel Adams to complain about his fellow delegates coming to Washington’s defense, stating:

You could not expect more smartness in a Resolve which was meant to rap a Demi G- over the Knuckles, than what you found in the one hinted at. What a fatality attends some men in the choice of their favorites! It seems as if honest men are not to be found in the 13 United States sufficient to make aids de Camp, Secretaries and privy Councellors to one great Man, whom no Citizen shall dare even to talk about say the Gentlemen of the Blade. [65]

The Continental Congress Delegates, most unknowingly, made  matters more complex for Washington when they placed Generals Gates and Mifflin on the Board of War and installed  Thomas Conway, against Washington's protest, as Inspector General of the Continental Army.  In these influential positions the scheme to replace Washington was pressed forward by a series of "interferences, shackles, vexations and slights to resign his command" according to Revolutionary War Historian Wallace. 

Despite Mifflin’s quartermaster experience, the Cabal’s incompetence of managing the Board of War, Commissary and Quartermaster departments left wagon loads of clothing and provisions standing in the woods much to the chagrin of Henry Laurens. The sufferings of Washington and his troops at Valley Forge were either due to these men's incompetence or, as some historians maintain,  deliberate decisions that they thought would eventually insure the replacement  of Washington as Commander-in-Chief with Horatio Gates.  The Valley Forge tragedy was not a product of the new nation’s poverty or the refusal of its citizens to contribute to the War effort.  It was a political travesty.

Irrefutable proof of a conspiracy against George Washington came to light when General Stirling sent the Commander-in-Chief a quote from Thomas Conway's letter to Gates:

Heaven has been determined to save your country, or a weak general and bad counselors would have ruined it. [66]

Washington’s only response was to send the quote back to Conway on November 9, writing only: “A letter, which I received last night, contained the following paragraph.” [67]

On November 28th, learning of Stirling’s loyalty,  Thomas Mifflin sent a letter to Gates alerting him that the extract from Conway’s letter had been sent to Washington, and how the Commander-in-Chief responded. Mifflin’s letter indicated he agreed that Conway’s letter was just. In this letter he cautioned Gates to be careful; as such open correspondence will “injure his best friends.” [68]

Washington never made this letter public.   Gates, however, did not heed Mifflin’s advice and wrote Washington a letter ranting about a so called scoundrel who supposedly leaked Conway’s letter to the public.  To Washington’s bewilderment, Gates foolishly copied Congress thus making the letter public.  Henry Laurens learned of this through his son, a Washington Aide-to-Camp. John Laurens wrote to his father from headquarters on January 3rd, 1778 giving this assessment in a brief sentence identifying the Cabal’s true “head”.

Conway has weight with a certain party, formed against the present Commander-in Chief at the head of which is General Mifflin. [69]

General Conway's letter gave George Washington no other option but to defend himself openly against the conspiracy as it was now in the public eye.  Washington wrote to Laurens on January 4th, 1778 that it was “beyond the depth of my comprehension” that Gates would make public the correspondence.  Washington wrote a letter to Gates and copied Congress notifying him that it was his own aide, Wilkinson, who had been indiscreet and not anyone in his camp.

 President Laurens wrote to his son:
"Talking of General Conway's Letter which has been circulating as formerly intimated, & of which General Gates declared both his ignorance & disapprobation, I took occasion to say, if General Conway pretends sincerity in his late parallel between the Great F____ [Fredrick] & the great W____ [Washington] he has, taking this Letter into view, been guilty of the blackest hypocrisy - if not, he is chargeable with the guilt of an unprovoked sarcasm & is unpardonable. The General perfectly acquiesced in that sentiment & added such hints as convinced me he thought highly of Conway. Shall such a Man seperate friends or keep them asunder? It must not be. My Dear son, I pray God protect you." [70]

Laurens was anxious to play the role of "peacemaker" between Gates and Washington walking the middle ground. In the end Laurens neutrality embolden the Cabal but the scheme to replace George Washington with Horatio Gates fell apart in early 1778 when the plan was made public. 

One after another the delegates and generals hasten to disclaim any connection to the Conway and Gates. The reaction of the people was clear, George Washington was strongly entrenched in the minds and hearts of the common man and they wanted him to remain the Commander-in-Chief. The public's affection towards Washington did not "endanger our libertieis" as Adams predicted but rather gave them new support as the people rallied around the Commander-in Chief. The Cabal was dead; the people had spoken.  General Nathanael Greene, Mifflin’s rival, was placed in charge of the quartermaster's department in March, 1778. 

In a letter to Colonel Delany, written on the February 1, 1788, Mifflin maintained:

As a man of sense and honor, you must judge what rny feelings must be, when I am told that my old acquaintance, Colonel Delany, had charged me with a design of ruining General Washington, and of setting up General Gates in opposition to him. As a friend to my country, I have spoken my sentiments on public matters with decency and firmness. I love and esteem General Washington, and know him too well even to wish for an exchange. I love my country, and for her sake deprecate the idea of such a change. But I have seen, and among my friends have  said, that General Washington's judgment in military points was frequently counteracted by what I believed a dangerous influence. I have quoted Long Island and Mount Washington as instances of that influence, and have lamented that the General did not consider the great value of his own private judgment, a judgment universally admitted and admired.[71]

The Conway Cabal emerged once again in the summer of 1778 when Thomas Mifflin was addressed as "pivot" in Laurens June 11th letter to his son. In this letter Laurens writes about Congress's call for an investigation into General Mifflin's quartermaster activities:

If you were here in this Room I could entertain you five minutes with description of an excellent attempt in favor of pivot which was not only ousted but brought on a proposition which, as a Man of honor he must have wished for, as a Man of politeness he must have wished for it, because all the World wished for it. Your antagonists I find have not yet turned their backs, the more motions they make the more I suspect them. When they shall be fairly gone I will sing te deum, but 'till then my duty & my Interest dictate infidelity & command me to be watchful. The long continuance of repeated accounts marking their intended embarkation has injured our Cause more than you are aware of. Adieu. [72]

Laurens according to the Library of congress

… was alluding to the call for an investigation of former quartermaster general Thomas Mifflin that Congress approved this day. [73]

In previous correspondence with his son, Laurens had used the term "pivot" to designate Mifflin's role in the so-called Conway Cabal. That John Laurens understood the use of it as a reference to Mifflin is indicated by this statement in his June 14th reply:

The inquiry into the conduct of the late quarter masters, must give pleasure to every man who wishes to see the betrayers of public trusts brought to condign punishment. [74]

General Mifflin would later be exonerated of these charges.  This incident, however, ended Mifflin's military career and brought about Congress accepting his resignation   on February 25, 1779.  Despite these difficulties, Congress continued to call upon General Mifflin for his expertise.  On January 20th, 1780, Mifflin was appointed on a board to devise means for retrenching expenses. In this capacity he once again became a stalwart and strong advocate of General Washington during the darkest days of the revolution. The thanks of Congress were voted to him and Colonel Pickering, for "the wise and salutary plans."   

In 1782, Thomas Mifflin joined the ranks of Congress as a delegate to the United States, in Congress Assembled.

November 12, 1782, Pursuant to the order of the day, the House proceeded to the election of Delegates to represent this State in Congress, and the ballots, being taken, it appeared, that the Honorable Thomas Mifflin, Thomas Fitzsimmons, James Wilson, John Montgomery, and Richard Peters, Esquires, were duly elected.[75]

Mifflin took his seat on November 20th in Philadelphia and served competently.  On December 12th, 1782 the USCA found it necessary to send a delegation to Rhode Island passing this resolution:

That a deputation be sent from Congress to the State of Rhode Island to inform that state of the propects which Congress have of loans and other supplies for the ensuing year (for the purpose of making a full and just representation of the public affairs of the United States,) and of urging the absolute necessity of a compliance with the resolution of Congress of the 3d day of February, 1781, respecting the duty on imports and prizes, as a measure essential to the safety and reputation of these states.

Resolved, That the deputation consist of three members, and that previous to their departure they confer with the Superintendant of finance, the Secretary at War and the Secretary for foreign affairs, who are hereby directed to communicate to them such information, from their respective departments, as may be most conducive to the end proposed: the members chosen, Mr. [Samuel] Osgood, Mr. [Thomas] Mifflin and Mr. [Abner] Nash.[76]

The following month, on an interesting committee assignment, Thomas Mifflin worked with James Madison to establish a Library for the United States as evidenced by this motion:

A come., consisting of Mr. Madison, Mr. Mifflin & Mr. Williamson reported in consequence of a motion of Mr. Bland, a list of books proper for the use of Congress, and proposed that the Secy. should be instructed to procure the same. In favr. of the Rept. it was urged as indispensable that Congress shd. have at all times at co?ard such authors on the law of Nations, treaties, Negotiations &c as wd. render their proceedings in such cases conformable to propriety; and it was observed that the want of this information was manifest in several important acts of Congress. It was further observed that no time ought to be lost in collecting every book & tract which related to American antiquities & the affairs of the U. S., since many of the most valuable of these were every day becoming extinct, & they were necessary not only as materials for a Hist: of the U.S., but might be rendered still more so by future pretensions agst. their rights from Spain or other powers which had shared in the discoveries & possessions of the New World. Agst the Report were urged 1st. the inconveniency of advancing even a few hundred pounds at this crisis; 2dly., the difference of expence between procuring the books during the war & after a peace. These objections prevailed, by a considerable majority. A motion was then made by Mr. Wilson, 2ded. by Mr. Madison, to conclue the purchase for the present to the most essential part of the books.[77]

The measure failed to be enacted due to the lack of funding in the U.S. Treasury.

In another interesting measure after the USCA was forced to relocate to Princeton due to soldier mutiny (see for a full account) a Thomas Mifflin headed committee proposed:

Congress took into consideration On the report On the a Committee, consisting of Mr. A[rthur] Lee, Mr. [Oliver] Ellsworth and Mr. [Thomas] Mifflin, appointed to prepare a plan of an equestrian statue of the Commander in Chief,

Resolved, That the statue be of bronze: The General to be represented in a Roman dress, holding a truncheon in his right hand in the other hand bearing a wreath of laurel, [and his head encircled with a laurel wreath]. The statue to besupported by a marble pedestal, on the four faces of which are to be represented, in basso relievo, the four [following] principal events of the war, in which General Washington commanded in person, viz. The evacuation of Boston--the capture of the Hessians at Trenton--[the battle of Princeton]--the action of Monmouth, and the surrender of York. On the upper part of the front of the pedestal, to be engraved as follows: The United States in Congress assembled ordered this statue to be erected in the year of our Lord 1783, in honor of George Washington, Esquire the illustrious Commander in Chief of their the Armies [of the United States of America], during the war which vindicated and secured their Liberty, Sovereignty and Independence. Resolved, That a statue conformable to the above plan, be executed by the best artist in Paris [Europe], under the superintendence of the Minister of the United States at the Court of Versailles; and that the Treasurer furnish money to defray the expence of the same, [be furnished from the treasury of the United States].[78]

The statue was so ordered in an attempt to have General Washington move to a house that they prepared for him just north of Princeton in a community known as Rocky Hill.  The USCA was in the throes of trying to form a permanent peacetime military establishment.  Nationalists like President Boudinot were being challenged radical delegates who viewed any standing federal army as a central government plot to weaken the states.  George Washington’s presence was deemed, by the federally minded delegates, if legislation was to be formulated to include a standing Army for the united States of America. Washington was reluctant to attend but flattery measure of erecting a statue worked and despite Martha Washington’s illness, the couple arrived in Princeton on August 23, 1782.  They were greeted by a reception hosted by the President of the College of New Jersey and Congress.  For more on Washington’s role in the Princeton Congress please visit

Journals of the United States in Congress Assembled Containing  the Proceedings From the Third Day of November, 1783 t0 the Third Day of June, 1784 - Volume IX, Published by order of Congress - Philadelphia, Printed by John Dunlap, Printer to the United States in Congress Assembled -- Image Courtesy of

 Mifflin’s work for the reminder of the Princeton session stood out in the minds of the other delegates.  Despite having to leave early for Philadelphia, when it came time to adjourn and relocate the next USCA to Annapolis the members elected him President on November 3, 1783 without him being present.[79]  Daniel Carroll of Maryland was elected to serve as chairman in his absence.   On November 4th the USCA authorized the final discharge of the Continental Army "except 500 men, with proper officers." The USCA then Adjourned to Annapolis scheduling to reconvene November 26th at the Maryland State House.

The Maryland State House was designed by Joseph Horatio Anderson in 1771. Its construction began in 1772 but was not completed until 1779 due to the struggle for Independence.  The building was constructed in red brick Georgian style with a small portico projecting out from the center crowned by a pediment. The State House entrance is accented with two high arched windows that complement the large rectangular windows on both stories lining the fa├žade. A cornice above the windows is topped by another pediment and the sloping roof gives way for a central octagonal drum atop which rests a distinctive dome. The great dome is topped by a balustrade balcony, another octagonal drum and a lantern. The Interior of the Dome, from floor to ceiling, is 113' with the building itself encompassing 120,900 square feet under roof.  It is the oldest American State Capitol still in continuous legislative use. Here on February 2, 1781, the Maryland legislature ratified the Articles of Confederation thus dissolving the old U.S. Continental Congress government. Now, two and half years later, the new government known as the United States in Congress Assembled (USCA) was scheduled to convene to accept the resignation of Commander-in-Chief George Washington and ratify the Treaty of Paris which would finally end the war with Great Britain.  

On November 22nd, John Thaxter, Jr., John Adams' private secretary, arrived in Philadelphia and presented the Treaty of Paris to President Thomas Mifflin for ratification consideration by the USCA in Annapolis.  Mifflin, concerned over the nine state quorum challenges wrote the Governors of the states from Philadelphia, on November 23, 1783 this circular letter.

"I have the honor to inform you, that Mr. [John] Thaxter, the private Secretary to Mr. [John] Adams, arrived here from France last evening; being dispatched, by our Minister at Paris [Benjamin Franklin], with a copy of the definitive treaty of peace between the United States of America and Great Britain; which was signed on the 3rd of September last. As I find by the last article of the treaty, it is stipulated that 'the ratifications thereof, expedited in good & due form, shall be exchanged between the contracting parties in the space of six months or sooner if possible'; to be computed from the day of the signature; and as much of that time is elapsed, I think it proper to give your Excellency this information, to the end that the delegates of your State may be impressed with the necessity of their attending in Congress as soon as possible..."[80]

As feared by President Mifflin, the USCA failed to achieve a quorum in November and well into December only managing the lower limit of seven states on the 13th to convene the Annapolis Congress. Below, Delegate Hugh Williamson gives his account  of the initial session in Annapolis:

To: William Blount 
Dear sir, Annapolis 28th Novr. 1783 On the 25th I arrived at this Place, we had adjourned to the 26th but have not yet made a Congress, Virginia alone being here. Yesterday the Delegates were chosen for this State, viz Jas McHenry, Coll. Lloyd, Mr Stone & Mr Chase. Mr Stone who is a Lawyer is said to be a man of considerable abilities mental and Col. Loy'd of the first abilities pecuniary in the State. He appears also to be clever. I left Mr Spaight at Philada. & expect him here on Monday. 
The State House here is certainly an elegant Building. The Room we are to sit in is perhaps the prettyest in America. Be so good as give me a detail of assembly news. The acct. of western Lands in particular. As soon as I have settled at a private Lodging, which I hope will be on to morrow I shall try to connect the Chain of occurrences which have lately been interrupted.... 
Journals of the United States in Congress Assembled Containing  the Proceedings From the Third Day of November, 1783 t0 the Third Day of June, 1784 Open to the December 13th, 1783 start of the Annapolis, MD session - -- Image Courtesy of 

The Journals of the United States in Congress Assembled report:
December 13  -  A number of members met on November 26 according to adjournment, but there not being a sufficient number of states assembled to proceed to business, Congress was adjourned from day to day, till December 13th, 1783, when seven states appearing the following states and members appeared from New Hampshire, Mr. Abiel Foster, Massachusetts, Mr. Elbridge Gerry, Mr. Samuel Osgood, Mr. George Partridge, Rhode Island, Mr. William Ellery, Mr. David Howell, Pennsylvania,Mr. Tibetans Mifflin, Mr. Cadwalader Morris, Delaware, Mr. James Tilton, Mr. Eleazer McComb, Maryland, Mr. James McHenry, Mr. Edward Lloyd, Virginia, Mr. Thomas Jefferson, Mr. Samuel Hardy, Mr. Arthur Lee, Mr. James Monroe, North Carolina, Mr. Benjamin Hawkins, Mr. Hugh Williamson, Mr. Richard Dobbs Spaight, South Carolina, Mr. Jacob Read, 

The Articles of Confederation, by constitutional requirement, mandated that nine states were needed to ratifying treaty and bind all the states so no vote was taken by the delegates on December the 13th.

Journals of the United States in Congress Assembled Containing  the Proceedings From the Third Day of November, 1783 to the Third Day of June, 1784 Open to the December 13th to 20th 1783 noting the Treaty of Paris has been received  -  Image courtesy of 

On Saturday 20 December 1783 the USCA received Commander-in-Chief George Washington’s letter notifying the President of his arrival in Annapolis, Maryland, with the intention of "asking leave to resign the commission he has the honor of holding in their service, and desiring to know their pleasure in what manner it will be most proper to offer his resignation; whether in writing or at an audience."   Upon reading the letter, debate ensued over the constitutional issue of the resignation being approved by only a seven and not a nine state USCA quorum.  It was delegate James Monroe, from Virginia, who made the case that seven states were enough to receive the Commander-in-Chief and accept his resignation.  He argue that although the Articles require nine states to appoint a Commander-in-Chief, there was no stipulation that nine were needed to accept a resignation.  The Articles read:

The United States in Congress assembled shall never engage in a war, nor grant letters of marque or reprisal in time of peace, nor enter into any treaties or alliances, nor coin money, nor regulate the value thereof, nor ascertain the sums and expenses necessary for the defense and welfare of the United States, or any of them, nor emit bills, nor borrow money on the credit of the United States, nor appropriate money, nor agree upon the number of vessels of war, to be built or purchased, or the number of land or sea forces to be raised, nor appoint a commander in chief of the army or navy, unless nine States assent to the same: nor shall a question on any other point, except for adjourning from day to day be determined, unless by the votes of the majority of the United States in Congress assembled.[81]

The Delegates, after a lengthy debate, agreed and resolved that Washington "be admitted to a public audience, on Tuesday next, at twelve o'clock." [82]
George Washington's attendance in Congress set the stage for one of the most remarkable events of United States history.     George Washington's resignation as Commander-in-Chief would be the last great act of the Revolutionary War.  Historian David Ramsay wrote of Washington trek to new federal capital to submit his resignation:

In every town and village, through which the General passed, he was met by public and private demonstrations of gratitude and joy. When he arrived at Annapolis, he informed Congress of his intention to ask leave to resign the commission he had the honor to hold in their service, and desired to know their pleasure in what manner it would be most proper to be done. They resolved that it should be in a public audience.[83]

The event began on December 22nd when President Mifflin gave a dinner, of over two hundred covers, to the Commander-in-Chief.  Afterwards, a magnificent ball was given in his honor by the Maryland Assembly. Washington opened the ball with the charming Mrs. James MacCubbin, gallantly presenting her with an elegant fan. This occasion was graced by "the beauty and the chivalry" of the patriotic old colony.

The following day, the USCA convened and the gallery at the Maryland State Capitol building was filled with ladies and special guests of Congress. The governor, council, and legislature of Maryland, several officers, and the consul-general of France were on all on the floor. The members of Congress were seated and wore their hats to signify that they represented the government. The spectators stood with bare heads. General Washington entered and was conducted by Secretary Charles Thomson to a seat. When all was quiet, President Mifflin said: "The United States, in Congress assembled, is prepared to receive the communications of the Commander-in-Chief."  The USCA Journal reports:  

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'

"General George Washington Resigning His Commission" by John Trumbull (1756–1843) - Circa 1817 and placed in the United States Capitol rotunda in Washington D.C. in 1824. Its dimensions are 144" in × 216" inches. General George Washington resigned his commission as Commander-in-Chief of the Army to the Congress, which was then meeting at the Maryland State House in Annapolis, on December 23, 1783. This action was of great significance in establishing civilian, rather than military rule, leading to a republic, rather than a dictatorship. Washington stands with two aides-de-camp addressing the President of the United States in Congress Assembled, Thomas Mifflin, Elbridge Gerry, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, James Madison, Thomas Stone,William Ellery, Roger Sherman and other delegates.

George Washington  then advanced and delivered to President of the United States his commission, with a copy of his address, and resumed his place. 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.[84]

What made this action especially remarkable was that George Washington, at his pinnacle of his power and popularity, surrendered his commission to President Thomas Mifflin, who had conspired to replace him as Commander-in-Chief with Horatio Gates in 1777.[85]  Washington was now a private citizen. The next day he left Annapolis, and made all haste to return to his beloved Mount Vernon holding true to the example of Cincinnatus. [86]  Washington would serve as the first President of the Order of Cincinnatus.

Quorum challenges at Annapolis became more complex after Washington’s resignation.  The severe winter of 1783–1784, due to the volcanic eruption of Laki in Iceland, prevented delegates from five of the thirteen States from attending the USCA. The Treaty stipulated that the USCA was required to approve and return the document to England within six months of September 3, 1783. It was January 3rd, 1784, four months into the timeframe, and a ratified treaty would take 45 days to cross the Atlantic.  Time was now of the essence.

A quorum of seven States was present and one faction of the USCA argued these states could ratify the treaty because they were merely approving and not entering into a treaty. Furthermore, it was unlikely that the required delegates could reach Annapolis before the ratification deadline.  Thomas Jefferson led the delegates who insisted that a full nine states were required to ratify the treaty. Any less, Jefferson argued, would be chicanery and a "dishonorable prostitution" of the Great Seal of the United States.   Additionally, a seven state ratified Treaty would open the door to Great Britain declaring it null and void at later date when the King learned the USCA did not meet the constitutional nine state requirement.

Jefferson headed a committee of both factions and arrived at a compromise. The USCA would ratify with only seven states present if the vote was unanimous and this would not set a precedent for future decisions. The treaty would be forwarded to the US ministers in Europe who would be instructed to request a delay of three months. If Great Britain should insist on the meeting the deadline, then the Ministers should present the seven-state treaty ratification.  Shortly after the committee disbanded an eighth state arrived and was in favor of the Treaty’s ratification.  On January 13th, the convention needed one more delegate to gain the nine states necessary to ratify the treaty. The following day, South Carolina Representative Richard Beresford, who was ill, arrived in Maryland achieving a quorum. The vote was immediately taken upon on his arrival and on January 14, 1784 and the treaty passed unanimously.  The USCA resolved 

Unanimously, nine states being present, that the said definitive treaty be, and the same is hereby ratified by the United States in Congress assembled, in the form following  A Proclamation To all persons to whom these presents shall come greeting: 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:

 ‘The Most Holy and Undivided Trinity ... Done at Paris, this third day of September, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-three. (L. S.) D. Hartley, (L. S.) John Adams, (L. S.) B. Franklin, (L. S.) John Jay.’ 

In testimony whereof, we have caused the seal of the United States to be hereunto affixed. Witness his Excellency Thomas Mifflin, our President, this fourteenth day of January in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty four and in the eighth year of the sovereignty and independence of the United States of America.
Resolved, that the said ratification be transmitted with all possible despatch, under the care of a faithful person, to our ministers in France, who have negotiated the treaty, to be exchanged.

Resolved, that Colonel Josiah Harmar be appointed to carry the said ratification.  [87]

Three copies were sent by separate couriers to ensure delivery.

United States in Congress Assembled  Treaty of Paris Ratification Proclamation signed by President Thomas Mifflin and Secretary Charles Thomson.

Journals of the United States in Congress Assembled Containing  the Proceedings From the Third Day of November, 1783 to the Third Day of June, 1784 Open to the January 14th, 1784 vote on the Treaty of Paris Ratification.  Note that the Journals record that 11 of the 13 States had a total of 23 delegates present during the ratification vote.   The States of New Hampshire and New Jersey did not meet the two Delegate minimum per State mandated by the Articles of Confederation so their State's votes are not counted being marked with a black circle rather than the ay.  The remaining nine States that voted ay on the ratification met the Articles of Confederation State quorum minimum of nine to enact a Treaty.   - -- Image Courtesy of 

United States, in Congress Assembled Treaty of Paris Proclamation[88]
King George III did not ratify the treaty for Great Britain until April 9, 1784 and his signature officially ended the American War for Independence. At the writing of this chapter I am pleased to report the Treaty Proclamation is currently displayed prominently at the National Archives in Washington D.C. with Mifflin's signature, as “Our President,” boldly penned just under the Great Seal of the United States and opposite of “In the name of the most Holy and Undivided Trinity.”(See above)

Two days after the Proclamation was issued to the people Mifflin turned to the then Christian business of electing a Federal Chaplin, he writes to Daniel Jones:

It is with the greatest Satisfaction I enclose to you an Act of Congress of the 22d Inst. by which you are unanimously elected their Chaplain. I need not inform you that it is the wish of your friends that you attend as soon as your private affairs will permit.

The end of January had the President focus on a pressing border matter between Massachusetts and Canada that threatened the peace of the treaty. The President sent Governor Hancock the USCA recommendations and a brief letter on the 23rd stating

I have the honor to transmit to your Excellency an Authenticated copy of the ratification of the Definitive Treaty, together with the recommendation of Congress conformably to the said Treaty.

The 1783 Treaty of Paris also freed American trade from British control. Robert Morris hired a ship and through Mifflin's Congress, and the efforts of future U.S. President, James Monroe, Congress granted the necessary ship’s papers to the Empress of China opening U.S. trade to the Far East on January 30, 1784:

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 before mentioned, 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 expenses 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. [89]

The Empress of China was actually three-masted, square-rigged 1783 privateer ship that was refitted for commercial purposes due to the cessation of hostilities between Great Britain and the United States. The ship left New York harbor on George Washington's Birthday, February 22, 1784, transporting the first official representative of the American government, Samuel Shaw, to China.  The ship cargo was lead, 30 tons of ginseng, cotton, camel cloth, 2,500 animal skins and several barrels of pepper. The ginseng, which grew wild in North America, was the most profitable cargo as the Chinese valued its healing powers.

On August 30, 1784 the Empress of China reached Canton, China. Samuel Shaw, Captain Green and the crew were not free to roam in China.  They were limited to compounds called hongs where the Chinese merchants called to trade. The trade was successful and the ship returned to New York City in May 1785 filled with a cargo of tea, tableware, silks, exotic plants, new metal alloys and nankeen (Chinese cotton) netting Robert Morris over $30,000 inspiring a host of U.S. merchants to enter into the Far East trade.[90]  Empress of China Partner and business agent Major Samuel Shaw, who was in charge of 1784 mission, kept a meticulous journal[91] and submitted his report to Foreign Secretary John Jay on May 19, 1785.[92]   Jay summarized the lengthy report to President Hancock as follows:

On reading over the letter of Mr. Shaw, in which he gives an account of his voyage in the ship Empress of China to Canton, I observe some paragraphs which, in my opinion, merit the further attention of Congress. They are the following:

"We came to an anchor in the Straits of Sunda on the 18th July. It was no small addition to our happiness on this occasion, to meet there two ships belonging to our good allies the French. The Commodore, Monsieur D'Ordelin, and his officers, welcomed us in the most affectionate manner; and as his own ship was immediately bound to Canton, gave us an invitation to go in company with him. This friendly offer we most cheerfully accepted, and the Commodore furnished us with his signals by day and night, and added such instructions for our passage through the Chinese seas as would have been exceedingly beneficial, had any unfortunate accident occasioned our separation."

"On our arrival at the Island of Macao, the French Consul for China, Monsieur Vieillard, with some other gentlemen of his nation, came on board to congratulate and welcome us to that part of the world, and kindly undertook the introduction of the Americans to the Portuguese Governor."

"Three days afterwards we finished our outward-bound voyage." "When the French sent their officers to congratulate us, they added to the obligations we were already under to them, by furnishing men, boats, and anchors, to assist us in coming to safe and convenient moorings; nor did their good offices stop here—they furnished us with part of their own bank-sail; and insisted further, that until we were settled, we should take up our quarters with them at Canton." "Notwithstanding the treatment we received from all parties was perfectly civil and respectful, yet, it was with peculiar satisfaction that we experienced, on every occasion, from our good allies, the French, the most flattering and substantial proofs of their friendship. 'If,' said they,' we have in any instance been serviceable to you, we are happy; and we desire nothing more ardently than further opportunities to convince you of our affection.'"

As the purpose for which that letter was committed, did not probably extend to these paragraphs, I take the liberty of suggesting whether it would not be proper to send a copy of that letter to Mr. Jefferson, and instruct him to express to the French Minister, the sense which Congress entertain of the friendly offices and civilities shown by the French officers in question to that American ship; to request the favor of him to signify the same to them; and to assure his most Christian Majesty that the people of the United States will, on their part, be happy in opportunities of acknowledging these pleasing acts of kindness, and of cultivating and continuing the same spirit of mutual friendship which has hitherto so happily subsisted between the two nations.[93]

Three months later, on January 20, 1786, Foreign Secretary Jay recommended to the USCA that 

As the attention of American merchants begins to turn to the China and India trade, and several of their vessels will probably be employed in it in the course of this year, 1 take the liberty of submitting to the consideration of Congress, the propriety of appointing a Consul and Vice Consul General for Canton, and other parts in Asia. Such officers would have a degree of weight and respect which private adventurers cannot readily acquire, and which would enable them to render essential services to their countrymen, on various occasions. More credit would be given by strangers to men who bring such evidence of their merit, than to others whose characters cannot be so soon and so certainly known; and their commission would give them more ready access to, and greater influence with, Princes, Governors, and Magistrates, than private merchants can in general expect.

On January 30, 1786, with the USCA approval, Foreign Secretary John Jay sent Samuel Shaw his commission as fir U.S. Counsel to China.

I have the honor of transmitting to you herewith enclosed, a commission constituting you Consul of the United States at Canton, in China. You have my best wishes, that you may derive advantages from this office equal to the honor and propriety with which I am persuaded it will be exercised. Although neither salary nor perquisites are annexed to it, yet so distinguished a mark of the confidence and esteem of the United States, will naturally give you a degree of weight and respectability which the highest personal merit cannot very soon obtain for a stranger in a foreign country.

It will not be necessary for me to dwell on the advantages your country may derive from the information you may acquire. Permit me, however, to request the favor of your correspondence, and that you will transmit to me, by proper conveyances, whatever intelligence and observations you may think conducive to the public good. The mercantile and other regulations at Canton respecting foreigners; the number and size of foreign vessels, and of what nations, which annually enter there; their cargoes, and what articles of merchandise answer best; are matters which merit attention. It might also be useful to know whether foreigners do, or can, carry on a circuitous trade in that part of the world, either on their own account, or by being carriers for others, whether Asiatic or European. Accurate information on all these points, will probably require time to collect; and as accurate information only can be useful, I cannot flatter myself with receiving ample details from you very soon after your arrival, unless on such of these subjects as may not require much time to investigate.

I shall not omit writing to you by every opportunity, and will do myself the pleasure of sending you such information respecting our country, as, though perhaps not very essential to you either as a Consul or a merchant, cannot fail of being interesting to an American citizen early and strongly attached to his country.[94]      

Unfortunately, the State Department forgot to inform the President of the United States, Barack Obama.  On the night of November 15, 2009 President Obama addressed a Shanghai China town hall meeting and spoke of the 1784 Empress of China trade mission. The President said in part:

However, America's ties to this city -- and to this country -- stretch back further, to the earliest days of America's independence. In 1784, our founding father, George Washington, commissioned the Empress of China, a ship that set sail for these shores so that it could pursue trade with the Qing Dynasty. Washington wanted to see the ship carry the flag around the globe, and to forge new ties with nations like China. This is a common American impulse -- the desire to reach for new horizons, and to forge new partnerships that are mutually beneficial.

President Obama was correct on the year but the U.S. President who signed Empress of China’s papers was Thomas Mifflin and not George Washington.  For a video of President Obama’s speech go to:

On the 31st President Mifflin transmitted a copy of a letter from John Allan along with a resolution passed on the 29th by Congress to Governor Hancock addressing the Canadian border dispute. Allan, a United States agent in the eastern department of Indian affairs, had claimed "Consternation" of Micmac, Passamaquody, Penobscot, and St. Johns Indians over recent encroachments into their territory from Nova Scotia. This was in breach of boundaries defined in the ratified Definitive Treaty of Peace. The governor was requested to make an examination of Allan's concerns, and if British encroachments into the territory were found, to "send a representation thereof to the British governor of Nova Scotia."

The next day, a financial report of the United States was submitted to Superintendent Robert Morris by the grand committee of Congress. This grand committee, which had been selected on January 23rd, had originally been assigned the Superintendent's report of October 21, 1783, that instructed it draw up "a requisition on the States for the payment of Interest on the national debt." After the committee's initial meeting on the 24th Thomas Jefferson, who was elected chairman, moved "that it be an instruction to the Grand committee to prepare and report to Congress an estimate of current expenses from the 1st day of January 1784 to the 1st of Jan. 1785." 

On January 30th the committee was also assigned a letter and note from the French Minister concerning the payment of interest to foreign holders of loan office certificates as well as other documents at later dates. Thomas Jefferson's committed filed the following report:

A grand Committee of Congress is now engaged in preparing estimates of the necessary federal expenses of the present year from the first to the last day of it, inclusive and of the articles of interest on the public debts foreign & domestic which call indispensably for intermediate provision while the impost proposed ultimately for their discharge shall be on it's passage through the states; these estimates are to lead to a new requisition of money from the states, but the committee have hopes that this new requisition may be lessened if not altogether dispensed with provided a full compliance can be obtained with the former requisitions of Nov. 2, 1781, for 8 mil­lions of dollars & of October 16, 1782, for 2 millions of dollars. They suppose that the requisition of 8 millions was greater than all the objects of it did in event require. They suppose further that some of these objects have been transferred to other funds. Of course there will be a surplus remaining after all the demands paid & payable out of this fund. In like manner the 2 millions having been part of 6 millions estimated on a war establishment and peace taking place immediately after, they expect a surplus may remain on this also after all payments made & to be made out of it. These surpluses which will be reached by no former appropriation & which are therefore fair­ly open to be newly appropriated they ask of you to estimate according to the best of your information that they may see how far an enforcement of them will go towards supplying the demands of the current year: but that they may know how to call on the several states to pay up their deficiencies, it will be necessary also for you to inform them what proportion of these requisitions had been paid up by each state to the 1st day of Jan. 1784.

Another object claimed the attention of the Committee. By a vote of Sep. 4, 1782, 1,200,000 Dollars were required from the states for the special purpose of paying inter­est, with a permission to them to pay first out of their quotas the interest on loan office certificates and other liquidated debts, loaned or contracted in their own states, so that the balance only was to be remitted to the Continental Treasury. Have any such balances been remitted, or have you any information how far the several states have proceeded to comply with this requisition by payment of interest within their own state?

A former committee had been appointed to revise the civil list and to adapt it to the change of circumstances which peace has induced.(5) They have gone through that work except so far as it relates to the department of Finance, by which I mean to include the establishments in the several offices of the Superintendt, Comptroller, Auditors, Register, Treasurer, & the Commissioners for settling the accounts in the several states, and the accts of the Staff departments. They hope from your letter in answer to one written you by Dr Williamson their chairman that you are turning your attention to this subject and that you will be so kind as to inform them whether any of the offices or officers in that department may be dispensed with under present circumstances so as to lessen it's expenses without endangering more substantial loss, a true and laudable Economy being their object. I take the liberty of mentioning this subject to you only because the Grand Committee under whose instructions I write will of course be delayed in their estimates till the other committee shall have made a full report on the civil list.

With you I know it is unnecessary to urge as early an answer as is practicable.

On February 10th, in response to Schuyler's intelligence and warnings, Mifflin turned the delegates' attention to Native American business. After a brief debate Congress resolved to authorize Schuyler to assure the Six Nations

of the protection of the United States, so long as they continue in the peaceable disposition which they now manifest, and that a general treaty will be held with them "as soon as the season and other necessary circumstances will permit.

On February 20th Thomas Mifflin once again was forced to deal with sporadic delegate attendance by certain states. He wrote His Excellency the Governor of New Hampshire as well as the Governors of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina and Georgia the following letter:

I think it a duty I owe to the office I am honoured with, as well as to the Union, to inform your Excellency, and thro' you the State over which you preside; that the great business of the United States is at a stand, for want of a representation agreeable to the Articles of Confederation. The Journal transmitted by the Secretary to your Excellency, and which contains the proceedings of Congress, and an Account of the States and Members present from the first Monday of November last to this day, will convince your Excellency of the state of inactivity, to which the affairs of the United States are reduced, for want of a full representation. At this moment, there are many matters of the highest importance to the safety, honor, and happiness of the United States, which require immediate Attention. Among these I need only mention the establishing a general peace with the Indians, and settling the western territory, the arranging our foreign Affairs, and taking measures for securing our frontiers, preserving our stores and Magazines; making requisitions for the expenses of the current year and for satisfying the public Creditors.
I have only to add that by the sickness of some of the Members, attending at Annapolis, we have had seven States represented in Congress only three days since the sixth Inst.; as your Excellency will observe by the enclosed certificate of the Secretary,(1) and, that the Members present are dissatisfied with attending to no purpose, and are very impatient under their situation. I am with the greatest Respect and esteem,

Your Excellency's Most Obedient and humble Servant,
Thomas Mifflin 
Enclosure of State Attendance:
Saturday February 7th, only five States attended. 
Monday February 9th, only six.
Tuesday & Wednesday 10th, and 11th seven States attended.
Thursday February 12, only five States attended. 
Friday February 13th, seven States attended,
Monday Feby 16th, only five.
Tuesday Feby. 17th, }
Wednesday Feby, 18th, } 
Thursday Feby. 19th, } Only six States, attended.
Friday Feby. 20th, } 

Saturday Feby. 21st, }

The States unrepresented, are New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and 
Maryland, North Carolina and Georgia. 
21 Feby. 1784.

Mifflin also appended the following information to his letter to the President of Pennsylvania, who is not among the addressees noted in Mifflin's letter book.

States not represented: New Hampshire--One Delegate present. New York. New Jersey--One Delegate present. Delaware--One Delegate present. Maryland--One Delegate attending. One sick. North Carolina--One Delegate attendg. One sick. Georgia.

To the Governor of New York, who was inquiring about direly needed garrisons, Mifflin wrote on the 26rd:

I am directed by Congress to inform your Excellency that "Nine States not having been represented but for a few days since the Adjournment of Congress to this place, the arrangement of Garrisons for the Western and Northern Posts has not been entered upon nor can it be considered till the States become more attentive to keep­ing up a full representation in Congress.The States not represented are New Hampshire, New York, Delaware, Maryland and Georgia.  

On the 23rd of February a resolution was adopted upon the recommendation of the committee of qualifications to provide greater uniformity in the election of delegates and improve congressional atten­dance. It requested that the states appoint delegates to one year terms, running from November to November to coincide with the congressional year.

In March 1784, Congress turned to an ordinance regarding the landed ceded to the United States by Great Britain in the above Treaty. A congressional committee led by Thomas Jefferson proposed dividing up sprawl­ing western territories (now known as Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota) into 14 territories. They would remain territories until they had attained the same population as the least populous state in America. At that point, the territories would become states, and they would have the same rights as the original thirteen states. The Ordinance of 1784 also guaranteed self-government to the residents of the territories.  The USCA Journal report on April 23, 1784:

That such temporary government shall only continue in force in any State until it shall have acquired twenty thousand free inhabitants when giving due proof thereof to Congress, they shall receive from them authority with appointments of time and place, to call a convention of representatives to establish a permanent constitution and government for themselves. Provided that both the temporary and permanent governments be established on these principles as their basis:

First: That they shall forever remain a part of this confederacy of the United States of America. 

Second. That in their persons, property and territory they shall be subject to the government of the United States in Congress assembled and to the Articles of Confederation in all those cases in which the original states shall be so subject, [and to all the acts and ordinances of the United States in Congress assembled, conformable thereto. 

Third: That they in no case shall interfere with the primary disposal of the soil by the United States in Congress Assembled, nor with the ordinances and regulations which Congress may find necessary, for securing the title in such soil to the bona fide purchasers. 

Fourth. That they shall be subject to pay a part of the federal debts contracted or to be contracted, to be apportioned on them by Congress, according to the same common rule and measure by which apportionments thereof shall be made on the other states. 

Fifth. That no tax shall be imposed on lands, the property of the United States.

Sixth. That their respective governments shall be in republican forms, and shall admit no person to be a citizen who holds any hereditary title. That after the year 1800 of the Christian era, there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in any of the said states, otherwise than in punishment of crimes, whereof the party shall have been convicted the have been personally guilty, republican. 

Seventh. That the lands of non-resident proprietors shall, in no case, be taxed higher than those of residents within any new State, before the admission thereof to a vote by its delegates in Congress.

That whensoever any of the said states shall have, of free inhabitants, as many as shall then be in any one the least numerous of the thirteen Original states, such State shall be admitted by its delegates into the Congress of the United States, on an equal footing with the said original states; provided nine states agree to such admission, according to the reservation of the eleventh of the Articles of Confederation. the consent of so many states in Congress is first obtained as may at the time be competent to such admission. And in order to adapt the said Articles of Confederation to the state of Congress when its numbers shall be thus increased, it shall be proposed to the legislatures of the states, originally parties thereto, to require the assent of two-thirds of the United States in Congress assembled, in all those cases wherein, by the said articles, the assent of nine states is now required, which being agreed to by them, shall be binding on the new states. Until such admission by their delegates into Congress, any of the said states, after the establishment of their temporary government, shall have authority to keep a member in Congress, with a right of debating but not of voting.[95]

1784 Map Prepared by John Hartley
 from Thomas Jefferson’s Ordinance of 1784

This proposal was passed on April 23rd but without the sixth clause banning slavery in the territory after 1800.  The abolition of slavery was defeated by the Southern Contingent of the USCA, despite President Mifflin and Delegate Thomas Jefferson’s support.   This ordinance, although amended in 1785 and supplanted with the Ordinance of 1787, established a structure for the addition of new states born from new federal territories. Above all, the Ordinance of 1784 stated that the new states would enter the union equal to previously established states. The USCA and the current tripartite government would adopt this blueprint in all future laws designed to add new states to the Union.

On April 26th the USCA, in its quest to find a permanent capital, a motion was made to adjourn and reconvene in Trenton, New Jersey on October 30, 1784.  The question of where to locate the permanent capital of the United States beleaguered the USCA since it was driven out of Philadelphia by its own military.  The citizens of Trenton were determined to persuade the USCA to make their town the permanent capital of the USA and the April 26th resolution gave them the opportunity to demonstrate their hospitality.  Of note, the will of Dr. David Cowell, “a physician of respect, and extensive practice,” who died December 18, 1783 bequeathed “one hundred pounds to the United States of America, to be thrown into the fund for erecting public buildings at Lamberton.” This private gift was “the first legacy we recollect to have been given to the United States and is respectable for a person of middle fortune.” [96]

In May, the USCA turned to debate on an appointment of a new U.S. Foreign Secretary.  Since Robert Livingston had resigned there was little communication from President Mifflin to Commissioner John Jay, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams after the treaty’s ratification.  The commissioners’ original USCA orders did not permit them to negotiate commercial treaties with England, France and any other country.  Accounts of John Jay’s missions both in France and Spain were complex and had to be settled so he remained in France completing the accounting and waiting for new USCA orders.  By spring, Jay had completed the accounting and his wife already en route to New York. He seemed content with leaving trade treaties to Adams and Franklin and set sail for New York arriving in July.   Jay was unaware the USCA elected him the new Foreign Secretary on May 7th to serve in yet another new U.S. Capitol at Trenton, New Jersey.

Thereupon, Congress proceeded to the election, and being this day informed by a letter of the 9 of March last, from the hon. Dr. Franklin, that the hon. Mr. J. Jay, proposed to embark for America, in the month of April, and this information corresponding with the intelligence communicated to Congress by Mr. Jay himself, in his letters of last year, Mr. Jay was put in nomination; and, the ballots being taken, The hon Mr. John Jay was elected Secretary for foreign affairs, having been previously nominated by Mr. [Elbridge] Gerry.[97]

     Upon his arrival he was presented with a letter from Charles Thomson that stated:

I have the pleasure to inform you that on the 7th of May Congress elected you Secretary for foreign affairs. I do not know how you will be pleased with the appointment, but this I am sure of that your country stands in need of your abilities in that Office. I feel sensibly that it is not only time but highly necessary for us to think and act like a sovereign as well as a free people. And I wish this sentiment were more deeply impressed on the members of every state in the Union. The opportunities you will have of corresponding not only with the executives but with the several legislatures, in discharging the duties of your office, will I trust greatly contribute to raise & promote this spirit. And this is a reason why I wish you were here to enter on the business. On the same day that you were elected to the Office for foreign affairs, Congress appointed M.r Jefferson in addition to Mr. J Adams and Mr. Franklin for the purpose of negotiating commercial treaties with the powers of Europe.[98]

John Jay had not sought this office and was surprised by the appointment.  His plans were to re-establish his private legal practice in New York and simply to brief Congress on his missions to Spain and England that resulted in the Treaty of Paris.  His status in New York was that of a celebrity and statesman and many events were held in his honor:

He was presented with the freedom of the city in a gold box, 'as a pledge of our affection;' such was the language of the accompanying address by the Corporation, 'and of our sincere wishes for your happiness.'[99]

The USCA during Jay’s return was plagued with quorum failures to such an extent that he was unable to file a full report. The attendance of the thirteen States had become more and more desperate after the ratification of the peace treaty.  The public was no longer interested in federal matters and the states were generally satisfied to go their separate ways with the war now at an end.  This had the effect of drawing the best minds into state governments and leaving a USCA filled with men who were not influential and decisive.  As in the case of Annapolis, there were a few great minds present or who had a passionate attachment to the idea of nationality.  Thomas Jefferson wrote to his governor:

We have but nine states present, seven of which are represented by only two members each. There are 14 gentlemen then, any one of which differing from the rest, stops our proceeding, for all these questions require the concurrence of nine states. We shall proceed in a day or two to take them up, and it is my expectation that after having tried several of them successively and finding it impossible to obtain a single determination, Congress will find it necessary to adjourn till the spring, first informing the states that they adjourn because from the in attendance of members their business cannot be done, recommending to them to instruct and enable their members to come on at the day appointed, and that they constantly keep three at the least with Congress while it shall be setting. I believe if we had thirteen states present represented by three members each we could clear off our business in two or three months, and that hereafter a session of two or three months in the year would suffice.[100]   

By mid-May Thomas Mifflin's hopes were to complete his term as President before the start of summer. Once again the States were under represented. Believing that it would be impossible for a letter to reach the more distant States in time for congressional final action and adjournment, the President wrote only his Excellency Nicholas Van Dyke of Delaware on May 11th, 1784:

I have the Honor to inform your Excellency that there are Subjects of considerable importance which demand the immediate attendance of your Delegates in Congress, which must necessarily be postponed unless they come forward without Delay, Congress having determined to adjourn on the 3d day of June next.

On May 15th President Mifflin directed Secretary of War, Henry Knox:

"to open a Correspondence with the Commander in Chief of his Britannic Majesty's Forces in Canada in order to ascertain the precise time when each of the Posts with­in the Territories of the United States now occupied by British Troops shall be deliv­ered up. You are also to endeavor to effect an exchange with the British Commanding Officer in Canada of the Cannon and Stores at the Posts to be evacuated, for Cannon and Stores to be delivered at West Point, New York or some other convenient place, and if this cannot be accomplished, that then you cause the compliment of Cannon and Stores requisite for those Posts to be in readiness to be transported in the most convenient and expeditious manner possible."

General Knox responded suggesting that he order "a confidential field officer to repair to Canada, who will be able upon the spot to negotiate the affair much sooner than it could be done by Letters." Congress immediately endorsed Knox's request.

In May, while Benjamin Franklin's efforts were underway for the United States and France to reach agreement on a consular convention in France a foreign relations crisis gripped Pennsylvania. Charles Julien chevalier de Longchamps assaulted the French Consul General in Philadelphia.

Chevalier de La Luzerne advised Thomas Mifflin of this attack on May 20th claiming it a breach of diplomatic privilege. The issued of Longchamps' attack on Marbois that illuminated the rights of diplomatic officials and the obligation of the Federal government to protect and defend foreign dignitaries was a topic of heated debate in Congress. The United States in Congress Assembled did little more than offer a reward of $500 for Longchamps' capture and urged the states to assist in his apprehension as their hands were tied by a weak Federal Constitution. The real issue of the Marbois-Longchamps affair shifted from foreign policy to states rights. The acts of Philadelphia and the government of Pennsylvania prevented the incident from escalating into a cause that would undermine federal-state relations. Pennsylvania, much to the pleasure of the Thomas Jefferson (the recently appointed U.S. Minister to France currently in Philadelphia), quickly apprehended Longchamps.

The issue, however, did not end here as despite the Pennsylvania Supreme Court handing out a stiff sentence to Longchamps the French wanted him extradited to France. Pennsylvania refused and then Marbois started to pressure the Confederation Congress to intervene and overrule the State's position. The United States in Congress Assembled was again faced with a Confederation Constitutional crisis on issues concerning foreign policy and the scope permitted under the Federal law. This and similar matters were never ultimately settled between the States and the Federal government until the 2nd Constitution superseded the Articles of Confederation in 1789.

Mifflin's term as President all but ended with this affair and the resolution implementing the Committee of States. One of his concluding letters as President concerned Dr. Gordon's request to access Washington's papers and to Continental documents for the writing his history of the American Revolution. Mifflin wrote George Washington his final let­ter as President on May 31st:

“Doctor Gordon having applied to Congress for access to their records and for their Countenance to his Admission to your Papers they have passed the enclosed 

Resolutions which I transmit to you at the request of the Doctor.

On Friday I expect to have the Pleasure of seeing Mount Vernon in Company with Mrs. Mifflin and Mr. Lloyds family--But there is a possibility that we shall not proceed farther than Alexandria on that day as the setting of Congress on Thursday may be so late as to prevent my leaving Annapolis before Friday mornings. At every event I have determined not to see Philadelphia before I have the Satisfaction of paying a Visit at Mount Vernon."

On May 29th the USCA, on the recommendation of Thomas Jefferson’s Committee of three, appointed a Committee of the States "to sit in the recess of Congress." 

Resolved, That the Committee of the states, which shall be appointed pursuant to the ninth of the Articles of Confederation and perpetual Union, to sit in the recess of Congress, for transacting the business of the United States, shall possess all the powers which may be exercised by seven states in Congress assembled, except those of sending Ambassadors, ministers, envoys, residents, consuls or agents, to foreign countries or courts; establishing rules for deciding what captures on land or water shall be legal, and in what manner prizes taken by land or naval forces, in the service of the United States, shall be divided or appropriated; establishing courts for receiving and determining finally appeals in cases of capture; constituting courts for deciding disputes and differences arising between two or more states; fixing the standard of weights and measures for the United States; changing the rate of postage on the papers passing through the post offices established by Congress; and generally of repealing or contravening any Ordinance or act passed by Congress; …

Congress proceeded to appoint "a committee of the states;" and, the ballots being taken, the following members were elected: For New Hampshire, Mr. Blanchard. Massachusetts, Mr. Dana. Rhode Island, Mr. Ellery. Connecticut, Mr. Sherman. New York, Mr. De Witt. New Jersey, Mr. Dick. Pennsylvania, Mr. Hand. Maryland, Mr. Chase. Virginia, Mr. Hardy. North Carolina, Mr. Spaight. South Carolina, Mr. Read.[101]

Historian Edmund Burnett writes of this 1784 committee:

Although such a committee, to sit during the recess of Congress, was provided for by the Articles of Confederation, this was the first instance in which it had been called into being, and it was also the last. Contrary to its earlier expectations, Congress had sat almost continuously, with scarce a break in its sessions, since its assembling in May, 1775. The Committee of the States was therefore an experiment. That it was not altogether a successful one it is one of the purposes of this paper to show. The committee accomplished nothing of first-rate importance. Its career was brief; it was also checkered; it ended in fiasco. [102]

The USCA failed to follow Jefferson and his committee’s recommendation that the Committee of the States should be headed by the President of the USCA.  In a later resolution he was actually removed from heading the committee with the members electing their own chair.  Additionally, the States were permitted to interchange members at their discretion.  Most damaging to committee’s effectiveness was the resolve that declared that no question, except that of adjournment, could be decided without the voice of nine states.  The committee made its debut with a nine state quorum on July 8 and held it intermittently until August 9th.  It never exceeded the nine states thereby making it necessary for unanimous agreement to enact even the simplest matter.   By August 13th, the members reporting number six and they passed the following resolution issued by Secretary Charles Thomson on August 19, 1784:

Whereas the honorable the delegates from the states of New-Hampshire, Massachusetts, and New-Jersey, did on Wednesday, the eleventh day of the present month of August, leave the city of Annapolis, and set out for their respective homes, whereby the Committee of the States hath been reduced to a number insufficient to do any manner of business; and whereas the continuance to meet from day to day, of the remaining members, without the power to do any public act, will be unnecessary; and as they do not conceive there is the smallest hope, that a sufficient number of delegates can again be assembled at Annapolis, to enable the Committee of the States to proceed to business, before the time appointed for the meeting of Congress pursuant to their adjournment, and it is proper that the public papers and records should be removed as speedily as may be to Philadelphia, till offices can be prepared for their reception at Trenton: The undersigned delegates have recommended to the Secretary of Congress, to take order for the immediate removal and safe arrangement and disposition of the papers and records of Congress. [103]

The Committee of the States was gone, never to be reinstated. Delegate James Monroe said in November 1784 that there was talk of having a congressional investigation of the committee. No investigation was ever made into the collapse of the committee.  The chief lesson that came from Annapolis and the Committee of the States was an executive of the plurality was not an effective from of government. Burnett concludes in is work on the Committee of the States:

Its farcical ending formed a fitting climax to the increasing failure of Congress to fulfill the requirements of a union of the States, and brought ridicule not only upon itself but upon Congress. Its utter failure to accomplish the purposes for which it was created emphasized the weakness inherent in the Confederation as constituted, and through the very disgust which it aroused gave a powerful impetus to the agitation, already begun, for a stronger government, a more perfect union.[104]

President Thomas Mifflin, as most historians mistakenly maintain, did not remain in Annapolis to Chair the Committee of the States.  Mifflin returned to Pennsylvania and after the committee’s collapse did not heed the call of the USCA to be reassembled in Trenton on November 1, 1784.  The USCA Journals Chronology of Mifflin's presidency is as follows:

Click Here to view the US Mint & Coin Acts 1782-1792

1783 - November 3 Convenes new Congress; elects Thomas Mifflin president (elects Daniel Carroll chairman in the president's absence). November 4 Authorizes discharge of the Continental Army- "except 500 men, with proper officers." Adjourns to Annapolis, to reconvene the 26th.

December 13 Reconvenes at Annapolis. December 15 Fails to convene quorum. December 16 Reads foreign dispatches. December 17 Fails to convene quorum. December 22 Holds public entertainment for General Washington. December 23 Appeals to unrepresented states to maintain congressional attendance; receives Washington and accepts his resignation. December 27 Receives report on capital location. December 29

January 1 Fails to convene quorum. 1784 January 3 Resolves to receive Francis Dana, "relative to his mission to the Court of Russia." January 5 Rejects proposal to nominate knights to the Polish Order of Divine Providence. January 8 Debates Quaker petition for suppression of the slave trade. January 10 Fails to convene quorum. January 14 Ratifies definitive treaty of peace, "nine states being present"; recommends that the states "provide for the restitution of" confiscated loyalist property. January 15 Acquiesces in public creditor demand that loan office certificate interest not be subject to depreciation. January 17-20 Fails to convene quorum. January 21 Rejects motion denying Continental jurisdiction in Lusannah admiralty appeal. January 22 Halts plan to dispose of military stores. January 23 Sets date for selecting judges to determine "the private right of soil" in the Wyoming Valley. January 26 Narrows half-pay eligibility rules. January 27-28 Fails to convene quorum. January 30 Grants sea-letters for The Empress of China voyage to Canton.

February 3 Creates post of undersecretary to revive office for foreign affairs. February 4-5 Fails to convene quorum. February 6 Issues brevet promotions for departing foreign officers. February 7-9 Fails to convene quorum. February 10 Plans general treaty with Native American nations of the northern department. February 11 Registers commissions of five French consuls and five vice-consuls. February 12 Fails to convene quorum. February 16-23 Fails to convene quorum. February 24 Postpones debate on garrisoning frontier posts for failure of nine-state representation. February 27 Commends Marquis de la Rouerie; deadlocks over appointment of a secretary for foreign affairs.

March 1 Receives Indiana Company petition; accepts Virginia cession of western land claims; reads western land ordinance report. March 2 Elects Henry Remsen under secretary for foreign affairs; deadlocks over appointment of a secretary. March 4 Elects commissioners to negotiate with the Native Americans. March 5 Debates plans for holding treaty with the Native Americans. March 10 Fails to convene quorum. March 12 Rejects Connecticut protest against half-pay plan. March 13 Rejects Delaware delegate credentials, exceeding three-year limitation. March 16 Bars appointment of aliens to consular and other foreign posts. March 19 Adopts instructions for Native American commissioners. March 22-25 Postpones debate on Lusannah admiralty appeal. March 23 Rejects credentials of Massachusetts delegate Samuel Osgood. March 26 Affirms that in negotiating commercial treaties these United States be considered . . . as one nation, upon the principles of the federal constitution." March 30 Sets quotas and adopts fiscal appeal to the states; rejects motion denying Continental jurisdiction in Lusannah appeal.

April 1-2 Debates report on negotiating commercial treaties. April 5 Adopts appeal to the states on arrears of interest payments on the public debt. April 6 Reads report on maintaining frontier garrisons. April 8 Instructs agent of marine on sale of Continental ships. April 12 Debates public debt. April 14 Debates motion to adjourn from Annapolis to various proposed sites. April 16 Instructs "commissioners for treating with the Native American nations." April 19 Debates western land ordinance; deletes anti-slavery paragraph. April 20-21 Debates western land ordinance. April 23 Debates western land ordinance. April 24 Receives New York memorial concerning the Vermont dispute.[105] April 26 Resolves to adjourn June 3, to reconvene at Trenton October 30; debates capital's location. April 27-28 Debates public debt. April 28 Orders arrest of Henry Carbery, leader of Pennsylvania mutiny. April 29 Exhorts states to complete western land cessions. April 30 Requests states to vest Congress with power to regulate trade "for the term of fifteen years."

May 3 Reaffirms secrecy rule on foreign dispatches; receives French announcement on opening free ports to US trade. May 5 Debates retrenchment of the civil list. May 7 Sets diplomatic salaries; appoints John Jay secretary for foreign affairs. May 11 Adopts instructions for negotiation of commercial treaties. May 12 Resolves to request delivery of frontier posts to US troops. May 15 Debates disqualification of Rhode Island delegates. May 17 Receives announcement of French Minister La Luzerne's intention to return to France. May 18 Orders troops for the protection of Native American commissioners. May 19-24 Debates disqualification of Rhode Island delegates. May 21-22 Fails to convene quorum. May 25-27 Debates garrisoning frontier posts. May 28 Adopts "Ordinance for putting the department of finance into Commission"; reads proposed land ordinance and report on Native American affairs. May 29 Appoints Committee of the States "to sit in the recess of Congress," and adopts resolutions defining its powers and rules. Offers reward for arrest of chevalier de Longchamps for assault on the French consul general, the marquis de Barbe-Marbois. May 31 Debates garrisoning frontier posts.

June 1 Resolves to meet thrice daily until adjournment. June 2 Orders discharge of Continental troops "except 25 privates to guard the stores at Fort Pitt, and 55 to guard the stores at West Point." June 3 Instructs ministers plenipotentiary not to relinquish navigation of the Mississippi; authorizes call of 700 militiamen to protect the northwestern frontiers; elects three treasury commissioners; adjourns "to meet at Trenton on the 30th day of October.

July 5 Committee of the States convenes, adopts rules, meets in 20 regular sessions to August 3. August 4-19 Committee of the States fails to convene quorum, except briefly on August 9, and dissolves amid controversy. November 1 Convenes at Trenton, two states represented.

Mifflin’s interest in politics did not end with the Presidency. He was a member of the Pennsylvania Legislature and was elected speaker of that body in 1785.

Front: Pay to Jacob Shallus, Esq on order twenty-eight pounds for his pay as Assistant Clerk to the Assembly. September 27, 1786, Thomas Mifflin, Speaker, David Rittenhouse, Esq, [Treasurer of Pennsylvania] Attest Jhn Nicholson [Controller General of Pennsylvania] Reverse: October 11th, 1786 Received the contents Jacob Shallus

 In 1787, Mifflin was elected as a delegate to the Philadelphia convention that framed the current Constitution of the United States. Mifflin attended regularly, but made no speeches and did not play a substantial forensic role in the Convention. He signed the new Constitution on September 17, 1787.

Mifflin was elected a member of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania in 1788, succeeded to its presidency, and filled that office until 1790. He presided over the convention that was called to devise a new constitution for Pennsylvania, was elected the first governor over Arthur St. Clair in a landslide victory. 

He was then re-elected for the two successive terms of three years each. He raised Pennsylvania's quota of troops for the suppression of the Whiskey Insurrection, and served during the campaign under General Henry Lee, of Virginia. Governor Mifflin was a member of the American Philosophical Society from 1768 until 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 was a copious spender. Demands from his creditors forced him to leave Philadelphia in 1799, and he died in Lancaster the following year at age 56. Pennsylvania remunerated his burial expenses.  President Mifflin is buried at Trinity Lutheran Church, 31 South Duke Street, Lancaster, PA 17602.

Mifflin's Grave - Just as the “Almighty” saw fit to have Adams, Jefferson, and Monroe all expire on July 4th, a penniless Thomas Mifflin is buried, only one month after his 3rd term as PA Governor, on the grounds of The Lutheran Church of the Holy Trinity in downtown Lancaster. Amazingly as one inspects his tombstone there is no mention of his United States Presidency or his ratification of the Treaty that ended the war with Great Britain. The Lutheran Church of the Holy Trinity sign, however, casts an unusual shadow on the grave of a man who executed his Presidential Signature opposite the "Most Holy and Undivided Trinity" on the Proclamation that ended the war with Great Britain

Articles of Confederation Congress
United States in Congress Assembled (USCA) Sessions

Session Dates
USCA Convene Date
11-05-1780 to 11-04-1781*
11-05-1781 to 11-03-1782
11-04-1782 to 11-02-1783
11-03-1783 to 10-31-1784
11-01-1784 to 11-06-1785
11-07-1785 to 11-05-1786
11-06-1786 to 11-04-1787
11-05-1787 to 11-02-1788
11-03-1788 to 03-03-1789**

* The Articles of Confederation was ratified by the mandated 13th State on February 2, 1781, and the dated adopted by the Continental Congress to commence the new  United States in Congress Assembled government was March 1, 1781.  The USCA convened under the Articles of Confederation Constitution on March 2, 1781.  

** On September 14, 1788, the Eighth United States in Congress Assembled resolved that March 4th, 1789, would be commencement date of the Constitution of 1787's federal government thus dissolving the USCA on March 3rd, 1789.

[1] John Mifflin was also born in Philadelphia, the son Esther Cordery and of George Mifflin. He and his first wife, Elizabeth Bagnell, were the parents of seven children, including Thomas Mifflin. Sarah Fishbourne, his second wife, bore Mifflin three children, including John Fishbourne Mifflin. John Mifflin, a wealthy Quaker merchant,  held numerous significant political posts including that of provincial councilor as well as of councilman, alderman and justice of the peace. John Mifflin was a trustee of the College and Academy of Philadelphia (now the University of Pennsylvania) from 1755 until his death in 1759.
[2] Woodford Mansion, History of Woodford, 33rd & Dauphin Streets, East Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, PA 19132, --
[3] David Barclay (1729 – 1809) was an English Quaker merchant and banker. He is also known as a philanthropist and abolitionist. He  was one of the founders of the present-day Barclays Bank and a pioneer in  the English brewing industry.

[4] Wright, Robert K. Jr. and Morris J. MacGregor, Jr. , Thomas Mifflin -- Soldier-Statesmen of the Constitution, Center of Military History, United States Army, Washington, D.C., 1987
[5] Pennsylvania Gazetteer, October 18, 1770, and December 5, 1771
[6] John Adams to Abigail Adams, October 7, 1774 , Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2007., Docno: AFC01d113, heinafter referred to as Founding Families: Digital Editions
[7] Hilrzheimer, Diary, 26, Edward Iwananicki, "The Mifflin Mansionson at the Falls of Schuylkill,Germantown Crier, XVII (May 1965), 53-59.
[8] Diary of John Adams, 1773 July 15, 1773 , Founding Families: Digital Editions, Docno: DJA02d095
[9] Diary of John Adams, 1774 Aug. 29. Monday, Founding Families: Digital Editions, Docno: DJA02d135
[10] Diary of John Adams, 1774 Aug. 30. Tuesday, Founding Families: Digital Editions, Docno: JA02d136
[11] Diary of John Adams, 1774  September  2, Friday, Founding Families: Digital Editions, Docno: DJA02d141
[12] Diary of John Adams, 1774  September 3, Saturday, Founding Families: Digital Editions, Docno: DJA02d142
[13] Stanley Klos, in his book America’s Four Republics: The More or Less United States, divides the U.S. founding into four separate United American Republics with the first beginning with the Continental Congress of the United Colonies convening at Carpenters’ Hall on September 5, 1774.  The Second United America Republic formation date is July 2, 1776 (Passage of Lee’s Resolution declaring 12 of the 13 Colonies independent of Great Britain),   The Third United America Republic formation is March 1, 1781 (Articles of Confederation ratification and USCA start date), and the Fourth United America Republic formation is  March 4, 1789 (U.S. Constitution of 1787 governmental start date as resolved by the United States in Congress Assembled in September 1788)
[14] John Adams to Abigail Adams, October 7, 1774 , Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2007.,  - AFC01d113
[15] John Adams, Notes of Debates in the Continetal Congress 26-27, September, 1774, Founding Families: Digital Editions DJA02d168
[16] Diary of John Adams, 1774  September 9 1774, Saturday, Founding Families: Digital Editions DJA02d153
[17] Diary of John Adams, 1774  September 10 1774, Saturday, Founding Families: Digital Editions DJA02d154
[18] John Adams, Notes of Debates in the Continetal Congress October 24, 1774,, Founding Families: Digital Editions, DJA02d199
[19] The Seven Years' War was a War for Empire that took place between 1756 and 1763. It involved most of the great powers of the time and affected Europe, North America, Central America, the West African coast, India, and the Philippines. In the historiography of numerous countries, the war is alternatively named after combats in the respective theaters: the French and Indian War (North America, 1754–63), Pomeranian War (Sweden and Prussia, 1757–62), Third Carnatic War (Indian subcontinent, 1757–63), and Third Silesian War (Prussia and Austria, 1756–63).
[20] John Adams to Abigail Adams, May 29. 1775, Founding Families: Digital Editions
[21] Diary of John Adams, In Congress, June and July 1775, Founding Families: Digital Editions, Docno: DJA03d294
[22] John Adams wrote to James Warren, June 21, 1775, Founding Families: Digital Editions   Docno: PJA03d029
[23] John Adams to Nathanael Greene,  August 4. 1776, Founding Families: Digital Editions   Docno: PJA04d253
[24] John Adams to Abigail Adams, June 23, 1775 , Founding Families: Digital Editions
[25] William Crawford Armor, Lives of the governors of Pennsylvania, with the incidental history of the state, from 1609 to 1873," Publisher: T. H. Davis Davis Co., Norwich, CT, 1874, page 107
[26] Abigail Adams to John  Adams, November 12,, 1775, Founding Families: Digital Editions  Docno: AFC01d217
[27] George Washington to the Continental Congress, November 11, 1775, The writings of George Washington from the original manuscript sources: Volume 4, Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia Library
[28] Life of Thomas Mifflin, Memoirs of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Carey, Lea & Carey Publishers, Philadelphia, 1827 - Volume 2 - Page 111 
[29] Abigail Adams to John  Adams, December 10, 1775, Founding Families: Digital Editions - Docno: AFC01d224
[30] John  Adams to Abigail Adams, January 24, 1776, Founding Families: Digital Editions  
[31] Journals of the Continental Congress, January 26, 1776
[32] Fisk, John, The American Revolution, Published 1891 Houghton, Mifflin, page 170
[33] John Sullivan to John Adams, March 15, 1776,  Docno: PJA04d032
[35] John Adams to Abigail Adams, May 15, 1776, Founding Families: Digital Editions   Docno:AFC01d268
[36] Journals of the Continental Congress, May 19, 1776.
[37] John Adams to Joseph Ward, August 20, 1776, Founding Families: Digital Editions, Docno: PJA04d282
[38] Elbridge Gerry to Samuel and John Adams , July 21. 1776, Founding Families: Digital Editions
[39] Alexander Grayton, Memories of a Life Chiefly Passed in Pennsylvania, Harriburgh, PA 1811 pages 135-135
[40] Thomas Mifflin to John Adams August 5, 1776, Founding Families: Digital Editions
[41] Albert Sidney Bolles,Ph.D.,  Pennsylvania, province and state: a history from 1609 to 1790, John Wanamaker, Philadelphia: 1899, Volume 1, page 503
[42] Joseph Ward to John Adams, September 6, 1776, Founding Families: Digital Editions
[43] Samuel Holden Parsons  to John Adams, September 9, 1776, Founding Families: Digital Editions: PJA05d017
[44] Letter from Governour Tryon to Lord George Germain:   September 24, 1776, American Archives
[45] Barnet Schecter, The Battle for New York. New York: Walker & Co, 2002, page 207
[46] Journals of the Continental Congress, October 1, 1776.
[47] Albert Sidney Bolles,Ph.D.,  Pennsylvania, province and state: a history from 1609 to 1790, John Wanamaker, Philadelphia: 1899, Volume 1, page 511
[48] John Adams to John Avery, March 21, 1777, Founding Families: Digital Editions, Docno: PJA05d067
[49] Adams Family Papers Footnote, Docno: PJA06d030, “Since exchange of salutes was an attribute of sovereignty, it is understandable that the authorities at Bordeaux without approval of the French government hesitated to take an action that could be interpreted as recognition of American independence. To a degree, however, the question was moot, for on 14 and 15 Feb., at Quiberon Bay, the Ranger and Independence had exchanged salutes, as had the privateer General Mifflin, at  ZBest, in the summer of 1777.”
[50] John Adams to Abigail Adams, June 14, 1777, Founding Families: Digital Editions
[51] John Hanock to Arthur St. Clair, April 30, 1777, original manuscript,  Stan Klos Collection
[52] The Livery of Honor, McBride's Magazine, Volume 64, J.B. Lippincott and Company, Philadelphia, 1899, page 610
[53] Benjamin Rush to John Adams, October 20. 1778, Founding Families: Digital Editions
[54] Benjamin Rush to John Adams, October 27. 1778, Founding Families: Digital Editions
[55] In 1775 after Joseph Galloway and other loyalists abandoned Congress this coalition was born by and alliance of New England and Southern men like Richard Henry Lee, Eldridge Gerry, Charles Thomson, John and Samuel Adams who were strong proponents for independence.  Thomas Mifflin was one of their favorite sons.
[56] Ibid, Henry Laurens  to John Lewis Gervais, October 16th 1777
[57] Despite this change in republics from the United Colonies to the United States Laurens is commonly referred to as the Fourth President of the Continental Congress.
[58] David Duncan Wallace, Life of Henry Laurens, page 229
[59] Journals of the Continental Congress, November 7, 1777.
[60] Mifflin's receipt for this payment, dated 13 Nov. 1777, is in the Adams Papers
[61] Journals of the Continental Congress, November 24, 1777.
[62] Alexander Grayton, Memories of a Life Chiefly Passed in Pennsylvania, Harriburgh, PA 1811 pages 135-135
[63] David Duncan Wallace, Life of Henry Laurens, page 265
[64] Ibid, page 265
[65] Paul H. Smith, ed. Letters of Delegates, James Lovell to Samuel Adams, January 20, 1778
[66] John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor. January 4, 1778, Original Manuscript, The Writings of George Washington Image 385 Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799.
[67] George Washington, to Thomas Conway, November 9, 1778, Original Manuscript, The Writings of George Washington
[68] June Lloyd, “Beware of Your Board of War”, Historical Society of Pennsylvania Online 2004-2008.
[69] Paul H. Smith, ed. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774-1789, John Laurens to Henry Laurens,  headquarters on January 3rd, 1778
[70] Ibid, Henry Laurens to John Laurens April 9, 1778
[71] William Crawford Armor, Lives of the governors of Pennsylvania, with the incidental history of the state, from 1609 to 1873," Publisher: T. H. Davis Davis Co., Norwich, CT, 1874, page 283
[72] Ibid, Henry Laurens to John Laurens, June 11, 1778
[73] Ibid, Editor’s note, Laurens to John Laurens, June 11, 1778
[74] Ibid
[75] Journals of the United States in Congress Assembled, November 18, 1782
[76] Journals of the United States in Congress Assembled, December 6, 1782
[77] Journals of the United States in Congress Assembled, January 23, 1783
[78] Journals of the United States in Congress Assembled, August 7, 1783
[79] Journals of the United States in Congress Assembled, November 3, 1783
[80] President Thomas Mifflin to Governor John Dickinson, November 23, 1783, Original Manuscript
[81] USCA Journals, March 1, 1781, Articles of Confederation, Article IX
[82] USCA Journals, December 20, 1783
[83] Ramsay, David, The History of the American Revolution Published - James J. Wilson, Trenton: 1811
[84] Journals of the USCA, December 23, 1783
[85] Smith, Paul H., ed. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774-1789, John Laurens to Henry Laurens,  headquarters on January 3rd, 1778
[86] The Society of the Cincinnati was founded at the close of the Revolutionary War by the officers of the Continental line and their French counterparts, who had served together in the struggle for American independence. They wished to preserve the rights and liberties for which they had fought and to foster the bonds of friendship that had been formed among them during the long years of war. The Society's founding document, the Institution, was adopted on May 13, 1783. The Society took its name from the Roman hero Cincinnatus, the citizen-soldier who was twice called to lead his country in war and, after each victory, declined offers of power and position to return to his home and plough. George Washington, known as the "Cincinnatus of the West," was elected the Society's first president general, a position he held until his death in 1799.
[87] Ibid, Proclamation by the United States, in Congress Assembled, January 14, 1784
[88] Ibid, Original Manuscript, the United States National Archives Administration
[89] Journals of the United States in Congress Assembled, January 30, 1784
[90] Markoe, Karen,  200 Years of U.S. Trade with China, State University of New York Maritime College,
[91] Shaw, Samuel & Josiah Quincy, The Journals Of Major Samuel Shaw: The First American Consul At Canton: With A Life Of The Author, W. Crosby and H. P. Nichols, 1847
[92] Shaw, Robert,  The Papers of John Jay,  Columbia University, Robert Shaw to Foreign Secretary John Jay , May 19, 1785
[93] Jay, John,  The Papers of John Jay,  Columbia University, John Jay to President Richard Henry Lee, September 1, 1785.
[94] Jay, John,  The Papers of John Jay,  Columbia University, John Jay to Robert Shaw, January 30, 1786
[95] Journals of the United States in Congress Assembled, April 23, 1784
[96] New Jersey Gazette of December 23, 1783
[97] Journals of the United States in Congress Assembled, Jays Election as Foreign Secretary, May 7, 1784.
[98] Smith, Paul H., ed. Letters of Delegates to Congress , Charles Thomson to John Jay, JUNE 18, 1784
[99] Wilson, James Grant, The Memorial History of the City of New-York, J.B. Lippincott & Co, Philadelphia:1858,  page 359
[100] Smith, Paul H., ed. Letters of Delegates to Congress , Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin Harrison, January 16, 1784

[101] Journals of the USCA, May 29, 1784
[102] Burnett, Edmund C., The Committee of The States 1784, published in the Annual Report of the American Historical Association, Vil. I 1918, page 141
[103] Journals of the United States in Congress Assembled, August 19, 1784.
[104] Burnett, The Committee of The States, page 149
[105] Thomas Young (1732–1777), self-taught son of an immigrant from northern Ireland, was born in Ulster co., N.Y., and after a short apprenticeship commenced the practice of physic in Sharon, Conn. A poet, orator, newspaper scribbler, and militant deist as well as a physician and surgeon, Young was incurably restless and was to be identified with radical political agitation in no fewer than five colonies or states. Despite this perhaps unique distinction, what is recorded of him is scattered and often untrustworthy, and he has never had the biography he deserves. In 1766 he moved to Boston and was soon closely associated with Samuel Adams and Joseph Warren as an ardent Son of Liberty. He delivered the first oration commemorating the Boston “Massacre,” was appointed in 1772 a member of the Boston Committee of Correspondence, and was a leader in the Tea Party proceedings the following year. In the fall of 1774 he prudently left Boston for Newport, but turned up in Philadelphia the next spring. He was promptly welcomed into the circle of radicals who led the movement for independence and a new and democratic constitution for the state. He helped draft the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776, which JA later often cited as the very model of political vices; and in the spring of 1777 Young published a letter advising the inhabitants of “Vermont”—a name that he evidently coined and that was here first used—to establish an independent government. In Dec. 1776 he had been appointed senior surgeon to the Continental hospital in Philadelphia and applied the heroic therapy which his friend Dr. Benjamin Rush later made famous to the “cure” of fevers. In the line of duty the following June, he caught a virulent fever and died at once, leaving a wife and numerous children nearly destitute. The efforts of his old friend and reputed literary collaborator Ethan Allen to obtain from the Vermont legislature a grant of land to the widow were unsuccessful.

 The Congressional Evolution of the United States of America 

Continental Congress of the United Colonies Presidents 
Sept. 5, 1774 to July 1, 1776

September 5, 1774
October 22, 1774
October 22, 1774
October 26, 1774
May 20, 1775
May 24, 1775
May 25, 1775
July 1, 1776

Commander-in-Chief United Colonies & States of America

George Washington: June 15, 1775 - December 23, 1783

Continental Congress of the United States Presidents 
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July 2, 1776
October 29, 1777
November 1, 1777
December 9, 1778
December 10, 1778
September 28, 1779
September 29, 1779
February 28, 1781

Presidents of the United States in Congress Assembled
March 1, 1781 to March 3, 1789

March 1, 1781
July 6, 1781
July 10, 1781
Declined Office
July 10, 1781
November 4, 1781
November 5, 1781
November 3, 1782
November 4, 1782
November 2, 1783
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June 3, 1784
November 30, 1784
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June 5, 1786
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Presidents of the United States of America

D-Democratic Party, F-Federalist Party, I-Independent, R-Republican Party, R* Republican Party of Jefferson & W-Whig Party 

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United Colonies and States First Ladies

United Colonies Continental Congress
18th Century Term
09/05/74 – 10/22/74
Mary Williams Middleton (1741- 1761) Deceased
Henry Middleton
05/20/ 75 - 05/24/75
05/25/75 – 07/01/76
United States Continental Congress
07/02/76 – 10/29/77
Eleanor Ball Laurens (1731- 1770) Deceased
Henry Laurens
11/01/77 – 12/09/78
Sarah Livingston Jay (1756-1802)
12/ 10/78 – 09/28/78
Martha Huntington (1738/39–1794)
09/29/79 – 02/28/81
United States in Congress Assembled
Martha Huntington (1738/39–1794)
03/01/81 – 07/06/81
07/10/81 – 11/04/81
Jane Contee Hanson (1726-1812)
11/05/81 - 11/03/82
11/03/82 - 11/02/83
Sarah Morris Mifflin (1747-1790)
11/03/83 - 11/02/84
11/20/84 - 11/19/85
11/23/85 – 06/06/86
Rebecca Call Gorham (1744-1812)
06/06/86 - 02/01/87
02/02/87 - 01/21/88
01/22/88 - 01/29/89

Constitution of 1787
First Ladies
April 30, 1789 – March 4, 1797
March 4, 1797 – March 4, 1801
Martha Wayles Jefferson Deceased
September 6, 1782  (Aged 33)
March 4, 1809 – March 4, 1817
March 4, 1817 – March 4, 1825
March 4, 1825 – March 4, 1829
December 22, 1828 (aged 61)
February 5, 1819 (aged 35)
March 4, 1841 – April 4, 1841
April 4, 1841 – September 10, 1842
June 26, 1844 – March 4, 1845
March 4, 1845 – March 4, 1849
March 4, 1849 – July 9, 1850
July 9, 1850 – March 4, 1853
March 4, 1853 – March 4, 1857
March 4, 1861 – April 15, 1865
February 22, 1862 – May 10, 1865
April 15, 1865 – March 4, 1869
March 4, 1869 – March 4, 1877
March 4, 1877 – March 4, 1881
March 4, 1881 – September 19, 1881
January 12, 1880 (Aged 43)
June 2, 1886 – March 4, 1889
March 4, 1889 – October 25, 1892
June 2, 1886 – March 4, 1889
March 4, 1897 – September 14, 1901
September 14, 1901 – March 4, 1909
March 4, 1909 – March 4, 1913
March 4, 1913 – August 6, 1914
December 18, 1915 – March 4, 1921
March 4, 1921 – August 2, 1923
August 2, 1923 – March 4, 1929
March 4, 1929 – March 4, 1933
March 4, 1933 – April 12, 1945
April 12, 1945 – January 20, 1953
January 20, 1953 – January 20, 1961
January 20, 1961 – November 22, 1963
November 22, 1963 – January 20, 1969
January 20, 1969 – August 9, 1974
August 9, 1974 – January 20, 1977
January 20, 1977 – January 20, 1981
January 20, 1981 – January 20, 1989
January 20, 1989 – January 20, 1993
January 20, 1993 – January 20, 2001
January 20, 2001 – January 20, 2009
January 20, 2009 to date

Capitals of the United Colonies and States of America

Sept. 5, 1774 to Oct. 24, 1774
May 10, 1775 to Dec. 12, 1776
Dec. 20, 1776 to Feb. 27, 1777
March 4, 1777 to Sept. 18, 1777
September 27, 1777
Sept. 30, 1777 to June 27, 1778
July 2, 1778 to June 21, 1783
June 30, 1783 to Nov. 4, 1783
Nov. 26, 1783 to Aug. 19, 1784
Nov. 1, 1784 to Dec. 24, 1784
New York City
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New York City
October 6, 1788 to March 3,1789
New York City
March 3,1789 to August 12, 1790
Dec. 6,1790 to May 14, 1800       
Washington DC
November 17,1800 to Present

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