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Frederick Muhlenberg

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Subject: Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, United States House of Representatives elections, 1790, United States House of Representatives elections, 1789, United States House of Representatives elections, 1792, United States House of Representatives elections, 1794
Collection: 1750 Births, 1801 Deaths, American Lutheran Clergy, American People of German Descent, Burials in Pennsylvania, Continental Congressmen from Pennsylvania, Democratic-Republican Party Members of the United States House of Representatives, Members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Members of the United States House of Representatives from Pennsylvania, Muhlenberg Family, Pennsylvania Democratic-Republicans, People from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, People from Trappe, Pennsylvania, People of Colonial Pennsylvania, Speakers of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Speakers of the United States House of Representatives
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Frederick Muhlenberg

Frederick Muhlenberg
1st Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
In office
December 2, 1793 – March 4, 1795
President George Washington
Preceded by Jonathan Trumbull, Jr.
Succeeded by Jonathan Dayton
In office
April 1, 1789 – March 4, 1791
President George Washington
Preceded by Office created
Succeeded by Jonathan Trumbull, Jr.
1st Dean of the United States House of Representatives
Preceded by Title Established
Succeeded by George Thatcher
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's At-large congressional district
In office
March 4, 1789 – March 4, 1791
Preceded by District created
Succeeded by District eliminated
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 2nd congressional district
In office
March 4, 1791 – March 4, 1793
Preceded by District created
Succeeded by District eliminated
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's At-large congressional district
In office
March 4, 1793 – March 4, 1795
Preceded by District created
Succeeded by District eliminated
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 2nd congressional district
In office
March 4, 1795 – March 4, 1797
Preceded by District created
Succeeded by Blair McClenachan
Personal details
Born Frederick Augustus Conrad Muhlenberg
(1750-01-01)January 1, 1750
Trappe, Pennsylvania
Died June 4, 1801(1801-06-04) (aged 51)
Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Political party Pro-Administration
Anti-Administration
Alma mater University of Halle-Wittenberg
Profession Minister of religion
Religion Lutheran
Signature

Frederick Augustus Conrad Muhlenberg (; January 1, 1750 – June 4, 1801) was an American minister and politician who was the first Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. A delegate to the Pennsylvania state constitutional convention and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania and a Lutheran pastor by profession, Muhlenberg was born in Trappe, Pennsylvania. His home, known as The Speaker's House, is now a museum and is currently undergoing restoration to restore its appearance during Muhlenberg's occupancy.

The claim that Muhlenberg, as House Speaker, prevented German from becoming an official language of the United States is false.[1][2]

Contents

  • Early life and ministerial career 1
  • Political career 2
    • Continental Congress 2.1
    • U.S. House of Representatives 2.2
    • Other offices 2.3
  • Death and legacy 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • Notes 6
  • External links 7

Early life and ministerial career

Frederick Muhlenberg was born in Trappe, Pennsylvania, the son of Anna Maria (Weiser) and Heinrich Melchior Mühlenberg. His father, an immigrant from Germany, was considered the founder of the Lutheran Church in America. His maternal grandfather was Pennsylvania German colonial leader Conrad Weiser. His brother, Peter, was a General in the Continental Army and his brother Gotthilf Heinrich Ernst was a botanist. Muhlenberg was born in Trappe, Pennsylvania.

In 1763, together with his brothers John Peter Gabriel and Gotthilf Henry Ernst, he attended the Latina at the Franckesche Stiftungen[3] in Halle, Germany. In 1769, he attended the University of Halle, where he studied theology. He was ordained by the Pennsylvania Ministerium as a minister of the Lutheran Church on October 25, 1770. He preached in Stouchsburg, Pennsylvania, and Lebanon, Pennsylvania, from 1770 to 1774, and in New York City from 1774 to 1776. When the British entered New York at the onset of the American Revolutionary War, he felt obliged to leave and returned to Trappe. He moved to New Hanover Township, Pennsylvania and was pastor there and in Oley and New Goshenhoppen until August 1779.

On October 15, 1771, he married Catherine Schaeffer, the daughter of wealthy Philadelphia sugar refiner David Schaeffer. They had seven children.

Political career

Continental Congress

Muhlenberg was a member of the Continental Congress in 1779 and 1780, and served in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from 1780 to 1783. He was elected its speaker on November 3, 1780. He was a delegate to and president of the Pennsylvania state constitutional convention in 1787 called to ratify the Federal Constitution. He was the first signer of the Bill of Rights.

U.S. House of Representatives

He served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania in the first and the three succeeding United States Congresses (March 4, 1789 – March 4, 1797). Muhlenberg was also the first Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. He did not seek renomination as Speaker in 1796. On April 29, 1796, as chairman of the Committee of the Whole, he cast the deciding vote for the laws necessary to carry out the Jay Treaty.[4]

In 1794, during Muhlenberg's second tenure as Speaker, the House voted 42-41 against a proposal to translate some of the laws into German. Muhlenberg, who himself abstained from the vote, commented later, "the faster the Germans become Americans, the better it will be."[1] Despite not having voted against the bill, a legend called the Muhlenberg Legend developed in which he was responsible for prohibiting German as an official language of the United States.[1]

According to another legend, Muhlenberg also suggested that the title of the President of the United States should be "Mr. President" instead of "His High Mightiness" or "His Elected Majesty", as John Adams had suggested.

Other offices

Muhlenberg was president of the council of censors of Pennsylvania, and was appointed receiver general of the Pennsylvania Land Office on January 8, 1800, serving until his death in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on June 4, 1801.

Death and legacy

He was interred in Woodward Hill Cemetery in Lancaster. After his death, the Township of Muhlenberg, Pennsylvania, was named for him.

In World War II, the United States liberty ship SS F. A. C. Muhlenberg was named in his honor.

See also

References

Notes

  1. ^ a b c German as the official language of the USA?Bastian Sick:
  2. ^ German or English Chapter 7: The German Americans.Willi Paul Adams:
  3. ^ Archiv der Franckeschen Stiftungen, AF St/S B I 94 I, 575-577
  4. ^  

External links

  •  "Muhlenberg, Frederick Augustus Conrad".  
  •  "Muhlenberg, Henry Melchior".  
  • Ritchie, Donald A. (2006). "Muhlenberg, Frederick Augustus". The Congress of the United States: A Student Companion. Oxford University Press. p. 146. 
  • Peters, Ronald M., Jr. (1990). The American Speakership: The Office in Historical Perspective. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press. 
  • Jenkins, Jeffery A., Charles Stewart, III (2012). "Appendix 2: Election of House Speaker, First-112th Congresses". Fighting for the Speakership: The House and the Rise of Party Government. Princeton University Press. p. 332. 
United States House of Representatives
New district Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's at-large congressional district

March 4, 1789 – March 4, 1791
alongside: Thomas Fitzsimons, Thomas Hartley, Thomas Scott, Henry Wynkoop, Daniel Hiester and Peter G. Muhlenberg
Succeeded by
District eliminated
Redistricted to the 2nd district
Preceded by
District created
Redistricted from the at-large district
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 2nd congressional district

March 4, 1791 – March 4, 1793
Succeeded by
District eliminated
Redistricted to the 2nd district
Preceded by
District created
Redistricted from the at-large district
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's at-large congressional district

March 4, 1793 – March 4, 1795
alongside: Thomas Fitzsimons, John W. Kittera, Thomas Hartley, Thomas Scott, James Armstrong, Peter G. Muhlenberg, Andrew Gregg, Daniel Hiester, William Irvine, William Findley, John Smilie, and William Montgomery
Succeeded by
District eliminated
Redistricted to the 2nd district
Preceded by
District created
Redistricted from the at-large district
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 2nd congressional district

March 4, 1795 – March 4, 1797
Succeeded by
Blair McClenachan
Preceded by
New position
Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
April 1, 1789 – March 4, 1791
Succeeded by
Jonathan Trumbull, Jr.
Preceded by
Jonathan Trumbull, Jr.
Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
December 2, 1793 – March 4, 1795
Succeeded by
Jonathan Dayton
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