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“JULY 4 . Today the Continental Congress openly declared the united provinces of North America to be free and independent states. This has caused some thoughtful and far-seeing melancholici to be down in the mouth; on the other hand, it has caused some sanguine and short-sighted persons to exult and shout with joy. It will appear in the end who has played the right tune. This remains as a comfort to believers: There is One who sits at the rudder, who has the plan of the whole before him, to whom all power in heaven and one earth is given, and who has never yet made a mistake in his government. He it is who neither sleeps nor slumbers and who has asked his people to pray, ‘Hallowed by thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done.'”
—Diary of a Colonial Clergyman, by Heinrich Melchior Mühlenberg
Though you may not know the name, Heinrich Melchior Mühlenberg is kind of a big deal among Lutherans. Born in Einbeck in Hanover in 1711, Mühlenberg was destined to become the patriarch of Lutheranism in North America. After studying at the University of Göttingen, he was ordained into the ministry in 1739, and accepted a call overseas to the German-speaking Lutherans in Pennsylvania in 1742.
Once in America, Mühlenberg was a tornado of activity. He organized Lutherans into the Pennsylvania Ministerium, the first such Lutheran organization in North America. He started new congregations. He wrote a new, unified liturgy for the churches. He wrote the tenets for an ecclesiastical constitution, which most of the churches adopted in 1761. He worked on a hymnal that was published in 1786. He settled disputes among Lutherans, and between Lutherans and other Christians.
Not only all this, but he also produced notable offspring. In 1745 Mühlenberg married Anna Maria Weiser. Their son Peter became a Major General in the Continental Congress and later a member of Congress. Henry, Jr., became a pastor, and Henry Ernst became the first president of Franklin College. Daughter Elisabeth married a general. Marie Salome married a future congressman. Eve’s son John Schulze became governor of Pennsylvania.
And finally, there is Frederick, whose signature appears here:
Frederick was the first Speaker of the House of Representatives, so his name appears above Vice President John Adams on the Bill of Rights.
Heinrich Melchior Mühlenberg died on October 7, 1787.Published in