Historum - History Forums  

Go Back   Historum - History Forums > World History Forum > American History
Register Forums Blogs Social Groups Mark Forums Read

American History American History Forum - United States, Canada, Mexico, Central and South America


Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old July 14th, 2006, 10:05 PM   #1
Citizen
 
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 20
John Hanson -- First President of the United States


He was the heir of one of the greatest family traditions in the colonies and became the patriarch of a long line of American patriots – his great-grandfather died at Lutzen beside the great King Gustavus Aldophus of Sweden; his grandfather was one of the founders of New Sweden along the Delaware River in Maryland; one of his nephews was the military secretary to George Washington; another was a signer of the Declaration; still another was a signer of the Constitution; yet another was Governor of Maryland during the Revolution; and still another was a member of the first Congress; two sons were killed in action with the Continental Army; a grandson served as a member of Congress under the new Constitution; and another grandson was a Maryland Senator. Thus, even if Hanson had not served as President himself, he would have greatly contributed to the life of the nation through his ancestry and progeny.

As a youngster he began a self-guided reading of classics and rather quickly became an acknowledged expert in the juridicalism of Anselm and the practical philosophy of Seneca – both of which were influential in the development of the political philosophy of the great leaders of the Reformation. It was based upon these legal and theological studies that the young planter – his farm, Mulberry Grove was just across the Potomac from Mount Vernon – began to espouse the cause of the patriots.

In 1775 he was elected to the Provincial Legislature of Maryland. Then in 1777, he became a member of Congress where he distinguished himself as a brilliant administrator. Thus, he was elected President in 1781. Was John Hanson the first President of the United States?

The new country was actually formed on March 1, 1781 with the adoption of The Articles of Confederation. This document was actually proposed on June 11, 1776, but not agreed upon by Congress until November 15, 1777. Maryland refused to sign this document until Virginia and New York ceded their western lands (Maryland was afraid that these states would gain too much power in the new government from such large amounts of land). Once the signing took place in 1781, a President was needed to run the country. John Hanson was chosen unanimously by Congress (which included George Washington). In fact, all the other potential candidates refused to run against him, as he was a major player in the Revolution and an extremely influential member of Congress.

As the first President, Hanson had quite the shoes to fill. No one had ever been President and the role was poorly defined. His actions in office would set precedent for all future Presidents. He took office just as the Revolutionary War ended. Almost immediately, the troops demanded to be paid. As would be expected after any long war, there were no funds to meet the salaries. As a result, the soldiers threatened to overthrow the new government and put Washington on the throne as a monarch. All the members of Congress ran for their lives, leaving Hanson running the government. He somehow managed to calm the troops and hold the country together. If he had failed, the government would have fallen almost immediately and everyone would have been bowing to King Washington.

Hanson, as President, ordered all foreign troops off American soil, as well as the removal of all foreign flags. This was quite a feat, considering the fact that so many European countries had a stake in the United States since the days following Columbus. Hanson established the Great Seal of the United States, which all Presidents have since been required to use on all official documents. President Hanson also established the first Treasury Department, the first Secretary of War, and the first Foreign Affairs Department. Lastly, he declared that the fourth Thursday of every November was to be Thanksgiving Day, which is still true today.

The Articles of Confederation only allowed a President to serve a one-year term during any three-year period, so Hanson actually accomplished quite a bit in such little time. He served in that office from November 5, 1781 until November 3, 1782. He was the first President to serve a full term after the full ratification of the Articles of Confederation – and like so many of the Southern and New England Founders, he was strongly opposed to the Constitution when it was first discussed. He remained a confirmed anti-federalist until his untimely death.

Six other presidents were elected after him - Elias Boudinot (1783), Thomas Mifflin (1784), Richard Henry Lee (1785), Nathan Gorman (1786), Arthur St. Clair (1787), and Cyrus Griffin (1788) - all prior to Washington taking office. Why don't we ever hear about the first seven Presidents of the United States? It's quite simple - The Articles of Confederation didn't work well. The individual states had too much power and nothing could be agreed upon. A new doctrine needed to be written - something we know as the Constitution.

George Washington was definitely not the first President of the United States. He was the first President of the United States under the Constitution we follow today. And the first seven Presidents are forgotten in history.

Source: http://www.marshallhall.org/hanson.html
n1ck is offline  
Remove Ads
Old July 15th, 2006, 12:37 PM   #2
Lecturer
 
Joined: Jun 2006
Posts: 268

The "president" under the Articles was the presiding officer of Congress, not the chief executive, as is the President of the United States under the Constitution. Also, the Articles defined the powers of a confederation of states as opposed to the current Constitution, which defines the powers of a federation of states.

So why did the Articles of Confederation fail? An you're right, we don't learn about any of those Presidents in school. In fact, I have never heard of any of them.
kahn is offline  
Old April 7th, 2008, 09:45 AM   #3

Pedro's Avatar
 
Joined: Mar 2008
From: On a mountain top in Costa Rica. yeah...I win!!
Posts: 12,479
Blog Entries: 1
Re: John Hanson -- First President of the United States


Oh what fun! I love this kind of minutiae. It is what makes history and the forum so interesting. Just for the shear mischievous of it let me toss out this bit of frivolity: Abraham Lincoln was the first president of the United States. My argument: before the Civil War there was only a loose union of states. It was Lincoln that gave it the idea of a nation united.
Before Lincoln it was the United States, after it was THE United States. Any one out there buy this?
Pedro is offline  
Old April 7th, 2008, 09:58 AM   #4

Lucius's Avatar
the governed self
 
Joined: Jan 2007
From: Nebraska
Posts: 11,355
Re: John Hanson -- First President of the United States


Hanson was the President of the United States in Congress Assembled, which is almost, but not precisely, the United States of America.
Lucius is online now  
Old April 9th, 2008, 09:11 PM   #5
Archivist
 
Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 154
Re: John Hanson -- First President of the United States


No, Samuel Huntington was the first individual to hold the title “President of the United States,” although the Articles of Confederation does include “in Congress Assembled” in its text.

Huntington, after signing the Declaration, served in the Continental Congress until September 28, 1779, when he was elected President (of the Congress). He presided over the Confederation Congress during a critical period in the War for Independence. His commitment to Independence and his Presidency (of Congress) is renowned among scholars as his unwavering leadership held the nation together during a succession of military losses, sedition and defections. When the Articles were passed, he agreed to stay on and serve as its first president. He served from March 1, 1781 to July 6, 1781. The President under the Articles served more like the Speaker of the House does today.

Thomas McKeon, the 2nd President under the Articles, was the first referred to as “President of the Untied States” in an official document.

John Hanson, the 3rd President under the Articles, was the first to use the title “President of the United States” in writing.

That would make George Washington the 11th President of the United States, at least as far as the title goes, albeit the first elected under the Constitution by the Electoral College with the authority of chief executive. But there’s no getting around the fact that the title of President of the United States was held by ten men before him (most famously was undoubtedly John Hancock).

Last edited by raconteur; April 9th, 2008 at 09:14 PM.
raconteur is offline  
Old June 26th, 2009, 07:20 PM   #6
Citizen
 
Joined: Jun 2009
Posts: 22
Re: John Hanson -- First President of the United States


Well, let's do a little math.

The U.S. celebrates its independence on July 4th which happened in 1776.

The U.S. Constitution was put into effect in 1787.

So does the first 11 years of the nation not count for anything?

I personally think that it is a great thing to know that we were able to change our WHOLE ENTIRE GOVERNMENT structure and continue on like nothing happened.

Yes, the government was more efficient now but the country had no internal revolution or hostile takeover. It just changed its structure. This is unheard of in most places.
snow is offline  
Old June 28th, 2009, 04:08 PM   #7

HistoryFreak1912's Avatar
"Let's learn something!"
 
Joined: Apr 2009
From: Alabama
Posts: 3,514
Blog Entries: 18
Re: John Hanson -- First President of the United States


So if my math is right (which it isn't), if we had included the seven-eleven men who served as "presidents" before Washington, then that would make Barack Obama either the 48th or 54th President of the United States.

...

Anyone want to check my math for me?
HistoryFreak1912 is offline  
Old June 28th, 2009, 05:05 PM   #8

Sharks and love's Avatar
Knows he knows not
 
Joined: Jul 2008
From: Sharkland
Posts: 5,383
Re: John Hanson -- First President of the United States


If it isn't too obvious a point I'll say what it's probably painfully obvious to the rest of you:

These bits of information serve to educate us about things we didn't know about the United States. While the author titles his article "John Hanson - the first president of the US" I do not think he takes literally his title - nor does he expect us to. Obviously, the point of these articles is to inform, not to convince.

I this instance, he is using his title for shock value in order to educate us about - not a different first US President, but rather, that there were indispensable leaders that proceeded George Washington who's roles and history have all but been forgotten.
Sharks and love is offline  
Old June 28th, 2009, 07:53 PM   #9
Archivist
 
Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 154
Re: John Hanson -- First President of the United States


In order for there to be the first president of the United States, there must first be a “United States.” From September 5, 1774 to July 1, 1776, three men served as “President of the Continental Congress” of the “United Colonies of America” (often referred to as the First Continental Congress): Peyton Randolf, Henry Middleton and John Hancock

Four men served as “President of the Continental Congress” of the “United States of America” (often referred to as the Second Continental Congress) from July 2, 1776 to February 28, 1781: John Hancock, Henry Laurens, John Jay and Samuel Huntington.

There were ten individuals who served as “President of the United States in Congress Assembled” under the Articles of Confederation from March 1, 1781 to March 4, 1789. But this was the first time the title of “President of the United States” was used in writing. The first President of the United States under the Articles was Samuel Huntington (3/1/1781 to 7/6/1781). He had been President of the Continental Congress and was implored to remain as presiding officer when they adopted the Articles. The other nine were: Thomas McKean (2nd President of the United States, 7/10/1781 to 11/5/1781), John Hanson (3rd President of the United States, 11/5/1781 to 11/4/1782), Elias Boudinot (4th President of the United States, 11/4/1782 to 11/3/1783), Thomas Mifflin (5th President of the United States, 11/3/1783 to 6/3/1784), Richard Henry Lee (6th President of the United States, 11/30/1784 to 11/23/1785), John Hancock (7th President of the United States, 11/23/1785 to 6/6/1786), Nathaniel Gorham (8th President of the United States, 6/6/1786 – 11/13/1786), Arthur St. Clair (9th President of the United States, 2/2/1787 to 10/29/1787), Cyrus Griffin (10th President of the United States, 1/22/1788 to 3/4/1789).

George Washington was the 11th individual to hold the title of “President of the United States” as of March 5, 1789, but the first elected by those elected by the general electorate under the Constitution (compliments of the Electoral College, an archaic institution we still have today – on another note, state governor is the highest office - in the US - held by one elected directly “by the people.” That’s why we have had quite a number of presidents who lost the popular vote but won the election – but that’s fodder for another thread). Accordingly, Obama is the 54th person to hold the title of “President of the United States,” but is the 44th President under the Constitution.

I hope I answered your math question.
raconteur is offline  
Old June 30th, 2009, 07:31 AM   #10

red4tribe's Avatar
Archivist
 
Joined: Jun 2009
From: New York
Posts: 239
Re: John Hanson -- First President of the United States


No, no no. Hanson was the first President of Congress, not of the United States.
red4tribe is offline  
Reply

  Historum > World History Forum > American History

Tags
hanson, john, president, states, united


Thread Tools
Display Modes


Copyright © 2006-2013 Historum. All rights reserved.