Thomas Jefferson Papers

Samuel E. Mifflin to Thomas Jefferson, [ca. 26 September 1814]

From Samuel E. Mifflin

Philadela No 179 Chesnut St at Ann Em opposite the State House
[ca. 26 Sept. 1814]

I wish to know of you Sir, whether you recollect to have observed during the American War, by the then general Thomas Mifflin any opposition to have been made to the sanctity and spirit of General Washington Whether that opposition and the eternal spring of patriotism given to the American breast by the genius the valour the intelligence and the virtue of Mifflin did not rescue this Country from impending destruction and from impending devastation in all it’s borders: Whether the valour of Thomas Mifflin did not shine conspicuous before the eternal spirit and whether his fame has not been injured by the indigence of the quaker Society, whether the little want of principle of virtue of intelligence of liberality in the State of which he was a member has not or whether1 the envy and enmity of private families have not infringed upon his rights and glory and whether the vanity of others, Virginians as well as Pennsylvanians, You as well as General Washington whose passions whose sentiments may have been actuated upon by others, has not served to form a thick volumino[us] dark threatning impenetrable cloud, which has served to obscure the most resplendent rays of one of the brightest suns that ever was created in the Hemisphere2 of3 patriotism You must know Sir, for I will inform you, by this letter which, I hope you will read for the sake of your manners as a man of Your genius as a Philosopher of your virtue as an american citizen & that one of the most conspicuous of any that Pennsylvania is changing in habits in manners & in religion that the Mifflin family are determined to bring about a revolution in their sentiments or perish in the attempt for their name (that of the Mifflins) shall no longer be held at the whims the caprices and the frowns of others for Pennsylvania shall rise some parts of her in virtue in honour in intelligence and in renown and this by the virtue of the Mifflin family alone if General Mifflin whose virtues rise conspicuous in the canopy of heaven has not had justice done Justice shall yet be done him; for I will rescue this country of the United States of America including the boundless regions of Louisiana which you were inquisitive in purchasing together with the indigent John Randolph who supported you in that measure during Your illustrious and ever memorable administration from the eternal disgrace of the contempt of the inspired the glorious the illustrious Mifflin, Sir, I declare before the canopy of heaven that he was a greater a more illustrious a more virtuous a more truly benevolent patriotick charater than has been any American that ever existed (and4 equal) not even excepting You the illustrious Jefferson or General Washington.5

S. E. Mifflin

RC (DLC: TJ Papers, 202:35993–4); undated; edge trimmed; addressed: “His Excellency Thomas Jefferson late President of the United S. Monticello Virginia”; postmarked Philadelphia, 26 Sept.; endorsed by TJ as received 30 Sept. 1814 and so recorded in SJL.

Samuel Emlen Mifflin (b. 1790) was the son of Quaker reformer Warner Mifflin and Anne Emlen Mifflin, a Quaker preacher and abolitionist. In an 1813 letter to another family member, a cousin described Samuel as “in a state of derangement—the symptoms occasionally varying—sometimes violent—and sometimes more moderate—but never even apparently removed (as far as I can learn) since his first attack” (Hilda Justice, Life and Ancestry of Warner Mifflin [1905], 19; John Lynch to TJ, 25 Dec. 1810; Lloyd Mifflin Sr. to Joseph Mifflin Jr., 6 Nov. 1813 [PLF: Mifflin Papers]).

thomas mifflin (1744–1800), merchant and public official, was a native of Philadelphia. He served in both Continental Congresses before accepting a position as George Washington’s aide-de-camp in 1775, for which warlike activity the Quakers disowned him. Mifflin was appointed the Continental army’s first quartermaster general later that year and rose to major general in 1777. After controversy regarding his tenure as quartermaster drew the attention of Congress, he resigned from the military in 1779. His reputation was further marred by rumored involvement in an organized plot to replace Washington during the winter of 1777–78. Mifflin returned to the Continental Congress, 1782–84 (with service as president, 1783–84), signed the United States Constitution in 1787, presided over the convention that drafted the 1790 Pennsylvania constitution, and was elected to three consecutive terms as a moderately Republican governor of Pennsylvania, 1790–99 (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; Heitman, U.S. Army description begins Francis B. Heitman, comp., Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, 1903, 2 vols. description ends , 1:708; Washington, Papers description begins W. W. Abbot, Dorothy Twohig, Philander D. Chase, Theodore J. Crackel, and others, eds., The Papers of George Washington, 1983– , 52 vols.  Colonial Ser., 10 vols.  Confederation Ser., 6 vols.  Pres. Ser., 14 vols.  Retirement Ser., 4 vols.  Rev. War Ser., 18 vols. description ends , Rev. War Ser., 1:56–7; PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 34 vols. description ends , 7:275).

1Manuscript: “whethe.”

2Preceding seven words interlined.

3Mifflin here canceled “true of unequalled unparallelled unconquerable.”

4Mifflin here canceled “if we except them shurly none others are nearly.”

5Mifflin here canceled “your frien.”

Index Entries

  • Louisiana Territory; TJ’s role in purchasing search
  • Mifflin, Samuel E.; defends Mifflin family search
  • Mifflin, Samuel E.; defends reputation of T. Mifflin search
  • Mifflin, Samuel E.; identified search
  • Mifflin, Samuel E.; letters from search
  • Mifflin, Thomas; identified search
  • Mifflin, Thomas; reputation of defended search
  • Quakers; criticized search
  • Randolph, John (of Roanoke); political beliefs of search
  • Washington, George; opposition to search