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Heinrich Melchior Mühlenberg

Mühlenberg, Heinrich Melchior (mĕlˈkhēôr müˈlənbĕrk) [key], 1711–87, American Lutheran clergyman, b. Germany, educated at Göttingen and at Halle. He arrived (1742) in Pennsylvania to serve as pastor of several congregations in and near Philadelphia, but he soon became the leader of all the Lutheran groups in the colonies. Often called the patriarch of Lutheranism in America, he organized (1748) the first Lutheran synod in the country.

John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg myōˈlənbûrg, 1746–1807, American clergyman, Revolutionary officer, and legislator, eldest son of Heinrich, was born in Trappe, Pa., and studied at Halle. Although he was raised a Lutheran and studied for the Lutheran ministry, he was ordained an Episcopalian to insure his legal status as a clergyman in Woodstock, Va. In 1776 he left his church in Woodstock to raise and lead a regiment in the American Revolution. Throughout the war he served with distinction, retiring (1783) as brevet major general. He entered political life in Pennsylvania and served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Frederick Augustus Conrad Muhlenberg, 1750–1801, Lutheran clergyman and legislator, second son of Heinrich, also was born at Trappe, Pa., and educated at Halle. He was pastor of various churches in Pennsylvania and pastor (1773–76) of Christ (Lutheran) Church, New York City. Because of his sympathies with the Revolutionary cause, he left New York City (then under British occupation) and returned to Pennsylvania. Muhlenberg was a delegate (1779–80) to the Continental Congress and a member (1789–97) of the House of Representatives, twice serving as speaker. He cast the decisive vote on the appropriations bill that ensured the ratification of Jay's Treaty.

See H. M. Mühlenberg's journals (3 vol., 1942–58); biography of him by W. J. Mann (1911); P. A. W. Wallace, The Muhlenbergs of Pennsylvania (1950).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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