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Frederick Muhlenberg

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Frederick Muhlenberg
1st Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
In office
December 2, 1793 – March 4, 1795
Preceded byJonathan Trumbull Jr.
Succeeded byJonathan Dayton
In office
April 1, 1789 – March 4, 1791
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byJonathan Trumbull Jr.
Dean of the United States House of Representatives
In office
March 4, 1789 – March 4, 1797
Preceded byTitle established
Succeeded byThomas Hartley
George Thatcher
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania
In office
March 4, 1789 – March 4, 1797
Preceded byConstituency established
Succeeded byBlair McClenachan (2nd)
ConstituencyAt-large (1789–1791)
2nd district (1791–1793)
At-large (1793–1795)
2nd district (1795–1797)
Delegate from Pennsylvania to the Continental Congress
In office
Personal details
Frederick Augustus Conrad Muhlenberg

(1750-01-01)January 1, 1750
Trappe, Pennsylvania, British America
DiedJune 4, 1801(1801-06-04) (aged 51)
Lancaster, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Resting placeWoodward Hill Cemetery
Political partyDemocratic-Republican (1795–1801)
Anti-Administration (1791–1795)
Pro-Administration (before 1791)
RelativesMuhlenberg family
Alma materUniversity of Halle
ProfessionMinister of religion
Official nameFrederick A. C. Muhlenberg (1750–1801)
DesignatedApril 12, 2008[1]
Location151 W Main St., Trappe, across from strip mall

Frederick Augustus Conrad Muhlenberg (/ˈmjuːlɪnbɜːrɡ/; January 1, 1750 – June 4, 1801) was an American minister and politician who was the first Speaker of the United States House of Representatives and the first Dean of the United States House of Representatives. A member of the Federalist Party, he was 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.[2]

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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 North 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.[3]

In 1763, together with his brothers John Peter Gabriel and Gotthilf Henry Ernst, he attended the Latina at the Franckesche Stiftungen[4] 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.[5]

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

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.[citation needed] He was a delegate to and chairman of the Pennsylvania state constitutional convention in 1787 called to ratify the Federal Constitution. He was the first signer of the Bill of Rights.[citation needed]

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. In August 1789, he cast the deciding vote for the location of the nation's new capital. 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.[6]

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 that "the faster the Germans become Americans, the better it will be."[7] Despite not having voted against the bill, a legend, the Muhlenberg Legend, developed in which he was responsible for prohibiting German as an official language of the United States.[7]

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.[citation needed]

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.[8]

Death and legacy

He was interred in Woodward Hill Cemetery in Lancaster.[citation needed]

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

See also


  • United States Congress. "Frederick Muhlenberg (id: M001063)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
  • Biography and portrait at the University of Pennsylvania


  1. ^ "PHMC Frederick A. C. Muhlenberg (1750–1801)". Retrieved April 2, 2017.
  2. ^ "House Restoration". The Speakers House. Retrieved October 28, 2019.
  3. ^ Minardi, Lisa. "Frederick Muhlenberg." In Immigrant Entrepreneurship: German-American Business Biographies, 1720 to the Present, vol. 1, edited by Marianne S. Wokeck. German Historical Institute. Last modified May 31, 2016.
  4. ^ Archiv der Franckeschen Stiftungen, AF St/S B I 94 I, 575–577
  5. ^ "MUHLENBERG, Frederick Augustus Conrad – US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives".
  6. ^  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Muhlenberg, John Peter Gabriel". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  7. ^ a b Bastian Sick: German as the official language of the USA?
  8. ^ "Frederick Muhlenberg – The Speakers House". The Speakers House. Archived from the original on July 25, 2016. Retrieved June 11, 2018.

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by Federalist nominee for Governor of Pennsylvania
1793, 1796
Succeeded by
U.S. 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: George Clymer, 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
Preceded by
New position
Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
April 1, 1789 – March 4, 1791
Succeeded by
Preceded by Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
December 2, 1793 – March 4, 1795
Succeeded by
This page was last edited on 17 January 2023, at 17:24
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