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The Port Folio.


VARIOUS; that the mind

Of desultory man, studious of change,

And pleased with novelty, may be indulged.-CowPER

For the Port Folio.


Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

THOMAS MIFFLIN was born in the State of Pennsylvania, in the year 1744. I have not been able to learn whether he was educated at a public or private school. It is certain, however, that this important trust was committed to the Rev. Dr. William Smith, who was for several years provost of the University of Pennsylvania. No particulars of this part of his life are now to be collected, from any known sources. From a common-place book, which he kept at that period, and afterwards gave to the writer of these pages, it may be inferred that his reading was various and well directed. They who derive, from British authorities, their notions respecting the state of education in this country previous to the revolu tion, will be greatly deceived. Most of the individuals who acted a prominent part in the important struggle appear to have been well trained; and it is not extravagant to affirm that the fundamental principles of civil liberty were as well understood in our provincial assemblies as in St. Stephen's chapel.

We learn from some of his cotemporaries that his inclination for a military life was displayed at an early period; and JULY 1826.- 1.


he was disowned by the society of Friends in 1765, in consequence of his accepting the appointment of quarter-master general in the continental army. In 1774 or 1775, he commanded a company of volunteers in Philadelphia, of which, many were Quakers. His first appearance in the civil concerns of public life was as a Burgess of the city of Phila delphia, to which office he was elected in September, 1773. In the month of June following, his name appears on a committee of freeholders, appointed to procure relief for the inhabitants of Boston, during the operation of the act familiarly called the Boston Port Bill. On this occasion his exertions were stimulated and seconded by the pen of his old preceptor. He was a deputy from his native state to that congress which assembled in 1774, and commenced a national opposition to the unconstitutional measures of the British government. In 1775, he was a member of the convention for the province of Pennsylvania, as it was then called; and in the same year the high honour was conferred upon him, of being selected as an aid to general Washington. He repaired immediately to Boston, near which the army was then stationed. A letter from one of the officers, under date 15th Nov. 1775, which was published shortly afterwards in The Pennsylvania Gazette, speaks of a skirmish between the hostile forces, and adds, “our friend Mifflin played the part of himself—that is, of a hero!"

In the year 1776 he was appointed by congress a brigadier general. "As he was believed," says Marshall, "to possess great influence in Pennsylvania, he was directed to attend the government of that state, and to represent the real situation of the army, and the danger to which Philadelphia would certainly be exposed, unless the most vigorous exertions should be made." Life of Washington, II. 521. The exertions of general Mifflin, although, says the author just quoted, they made but very little impression on the state at large, were attended with some degree of success in the city, and he was enabled to rejoin general Washington at Trenton, at

the head of fifteen hundred men, besides a German battalion. General Mifflin was soon afterwards again despatched on the same duty, congress declaring "they deemed it of great importance to the general safety that he should make a progress through the several counties of the state of Pennsylvania, to rouse the freemen thereof to the immediate defence of the city and county;" and they resolved also, "that the assembly be requested to appoint a committee of their body to make the tour with him, and assist in this good and necessary work." 2 Marsh. 533. A few pages further, (p. 557,) this historian again adverts to the popular eloquence of general Mifflin, which was found peculiarly useful in removing the despondence which had paralized the public mind at the gloomy and trying period between the loss of fort Washington and the battle of Princeton. One of the companions of Mifflin relates an anecdote which strongly attests the powerful effect of his voice. They were at fort Washington when the Declaration of Independence arrived. It was a period of great solicitude. The recruiting had proceeded heavily and slowly, and those who were enlisted began to consider it as a hopeless contest. At such a moment the officers of the fort could scarcely hope for a cordial reception of the important document which they were ordered to proclaim to the troops. The men, however, were called out. After a few preparatory observations, the Rev. Dr. Magaw, late of Philadelphia, said prayers, and then the commanding officer read the Declaration. When he had finished, there was, for an instant, a death-like silence. Mifflin knew that this was no time for reflection. He sprung up, and in that decisive and animating manner which inspires confidence, he exclaimed-" My lads! the Rubicon is crossed!-Let us give three cheers for the Declaration!" The effect was electric. The men cheered enthusiastically, and not a note of dissatisfaction was heard.

It does not appear that general Mifflin had any separate command during the war, or that he was engaged in any

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