Image courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of J. William Middendorf II, 1968
Thomas Mifflin was among those Delegates who added their names to the U.S. Constitution in the Federal Convention of 1787.
On this date, the Confederation Congress elected Thomas Mifflin
of Pennsylvania as its president and presiding officer. Unlike the office of the President articulated in the U.S. Constitution, the presidents of the Confederation Congress did not have executive authority over the 13 colonies, nor were they elected by citizens through an electoral college. Instead, fellow delegates chose them to moderate debates, manage official correspondence, and welcome distinguished visitors—much like today’s Speaker of the House. Born in January 1744, Mifflin came from a well-to-do merchant family. A graduate of the College of Philadelphia (now the University of Pennsylvania), Mifflin built a successful mercantile business. Elected to the Pennsylvania provincial assembly in 1772, Mifflin served for three years. During the American Revolution, Mifflin attained the rank of major in a volunteer company before serving as an aide to General George Washington
. He fought in a number of battles and by the time he resigned his Continental Army commission in August 1778 he had risen to become a major general Although Mifflin only served as president for a brief period, during his tenure he presided over the resignation
of General Washington and facilitated the ratification
of the Treaty of Paris. After serving in the Congress, Mifflin joined the Pennsylvania state house where he served as a member and as speaker. During this period, Mifflin’s peers selected him as a delegate to the Federal Convention that revised the Articles of Confederation in the summer of 1787. After signing the U.S. Constitution
, Mifflin returned to serve his state as president of its supreme executive council and as presiding officer during Pennsylvania’s constitutional convention in 1790. Elected the first governor of the state of Pennsylvania, Mifflin served for three terms before returning to the state house. He died on January 20, 1800, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.