Muhlenberg, John Peter

Muhlenberg, John Peter a Lutheran minister, was the oldest son of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, and was born at the Trappe, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, October 1, 1746. His early education was conducted by his father and Dr. Smith, of Philadelphia. In the sixteenth year of his age he, with his two brothers, was sent to Germany to be educated at the University of Halle. On his return to this country, in 1768, he was ordained a minister of the Lutheran Church, and was for a season pastor of churches in New Germantown and Bedminster, N.J. In 1772 he removed to Woodstock, Dunmore County (now Shenandoah), Virginia, where many Germans from the Middle States had settled, and, forming themselves into a congregation, requested Dr. Muhlenberg to send them his son as their rector. These Lutherans, in consequence of the laws then existing in Virginia on the subject of Church establishment, had organized as members of the Swedish branch of the Lutheran Church, and in order that their minister might enforce the payment of tithes, it was necessary that he should be invested with episcopal ordination. Accordingly Mr. Muhlenberg repaired to England for the purpose, and in connection with Mr. White, afterwards the venerable bishop of Pennsylvania, was ordained as priest by the lord bishop of London. He continued his labors in Virginia till 1775, when his ardent patriotism and military spirit induced him, at the solicitation of general Washington, with whom he was on the most intimate terms, to accept a colonel's commission in the army. It is said that after he had received his appointment he preached a valedictory to his congregation, in the course of which he eloquently depicted the wrongs our country had suffered from Great Britain, and then added that "there was a time for all things; a time to preach and a time to pray; but there is also a time to fight, and that time has now come." Then, pronouncing the benediction, he deliberately laid aside his gown, which had thus far concealed his military uniform, and, proceeding to the door of the church, ordered the drums to beat for recruits. Nearly three hundred men enlisted under his banner, with whom he immediately marched to the protection of Charleston, South Carolina. He was present at the battle of Sullivan's Island, and performed a conspicuous part in all our Southern campaigns. Having been promoted in 1777 to the rank of brigadier-general, he held command in the battles of Brandywine and Germantown, and shared the dangers and responsibilities of Monmouth, Stony Point, and Yorktown. He continued in the service until the close of the war, and was then promoted to the rank of major- general before the army was disbanded. After the war, under the old constitution of Pennsylvania, he was elected vice-president of the state, with Benjamin Franklin as president. He was chosen for several terms as a representative in Congress, and also served as a presidential elector. In 1801 he was selected by the Legislature of Pennsylvania as United States Senator. He was likewise honored with several executive appointments. Jefferson appointed him supervisor of the revenue for Pennsylvania, and afterwards collector of the port of Philadelphia, which office he continued to hold during Madison's administration. He retained the confidence of the government till his death, and enjoyed the esteem of the community. He died at his residence near Gray's Ferry, Philadelphia, October 1, 1807, and was buried by the side of his father at the Trappe. See Anderson, Hist. of the Colonial Churches of Great Britain, 3:269. (M.L.S.)

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