View Full Version : Building a Nation

10-01-2008, 05:38 AM
This was an email I received and just had to share it with all of my PoFo friends. Boy did I learn something!!

If you are a history buff, you will certainly want to read this one.
Never heard this in school!

http://www.standingstones.com/8pres.html (http://www.standingstones.com/8pres.html)<

I'm sure that George Washington was your best guess. After all, no one
else comes to mind. But think back to your history books - The United
States Declared its independence in 1776, yet Washington did not take
office until April 30, 1789. So who was running the country during
these initial years of this young country? It was the first eight U. S

In fact, the first President of the United States was one John Hanson.
I can hear you now - John who? John Hanson, the first President of the
United States. Don't go checking the encyclopedia for this guy's name
... he is one of those great men that are lost to history. If you're
extremely lucky, you may actually find a brief mention of his name.
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

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 play er 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 as the
only guy left running the government. He somehow managed to calm the
troops down and hold the country together. If he had failed, the
government would have fallen almost immediately and everyone would
have been bowing to Ki ng Washington.

Hanson, as President, ordered all foreign troops off American soil, as
well as the removal of all foreign flags. This was quite the 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.
Seven other presidents were elected after him -
1. Elias Boudinot (1782-83),
2. Thomas Mifflin (1783-84),
3. Richard Henry Lee (1784-85),
4. John Hancock (1785-86),
5. Nathan Gorman (1786-87),
6. Arthur St. Clair (1787-88), and
7. Cyrus Griffin (1788-89) -
....all prior to Washington taking office. So what happened?

Why don't we hear about the first eight presidents? 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.
And that leads us to the end of our story. 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 eight Presidents are forgotten in history.
years to establish a successful government.

There you are, another lesson in U.S. History and you may have learned
something new today.

10-01-2008, 12:10 PM
Well wadaya know! Thanks DK. I definitely didn't know this.

10-01-2008, 04:06 PM

First president

The most common myth about Hanson was that he was the first President of the United States.

The origin of the claim that Hanson is the "forgotten" first President stems from a 1932 book by Seymour Wemyss Smith titled John Hanson – Our First President. Officially Hanson was the third President of the Continental Congress, and he considered himself a successor to the first two men to hold the office, Samuel Huntington and Thomas McKean. He was the first to serve a full one-year term, and the first to formally use the title President of the United States in Congress Assembled.

The office of the President of the United States in Congress Assembled was, despite the name, not an executive post. It bears a closer resemblance to the modern Speaker of the United States House of Representatives or Vice President of the United States. The office was in existence from 1781 to 1788, under the Articles of Confederation, and was replaced by the modern office of President of the United States when the Constitution took effect in 1789. The modern office is significantly more powerful as an executive position.

Miscellaneous reports

* Articles of Confederation: The primary major mover who finally got the articles ratified was Samuel Huntington. Maryland was the last state to ratify the Articles, and Hanson was one of their congressman when they did. It was a fairly simple shift to attribute Huntington's actions to Hanson. But a careful examination of correspondence kept at the Library of Congress and in state archives clears this up.
* Hanson was unanimously elected President: The journal of the congress for November 5, 1781 reports simply that "Their credentials being read, Congress proceeded to the election of a President; and the ballots being taken, the honble. John Hanson was elected." There is no record of nominations, votes, or debate.
* Hanson served in the Maryland Senate: Hanson's U.S. congressional biography even repeats this one. But, the dates given match his service in the Colonial Assembly. For the years noted, there was no Maryland Senate. There was a Governor's Council that functioned as an upper house for legislation, but Hanson wasn't on the council. But Senate sounds more impressive than the House of Delegates.
* Hanson established the Great Seal of the United States: He was president when the seal was first used, but not when it was ordered, and he never used it himself. See: Great Seal of the United States.
* Hanson established the first Secretary of War: As the active phase of the American Revolutionary War ended, Congress reduced the work of the Board of War, and their committees by hiring several secretaries: war, marine, and finance. But the secretary reported to the committee, not the president. The final resolution of congress creating the job dealt with the secretary's pay, and was passed on October 1, 1781 before Hanson was President.
* Thanksgiving: Hanson declared that the fourth Thursday of every November was to be Thanksgiving Day. Congress did declare a day of thanksgiving and prayer the day they learned of the victory at Yorktown. Other than as a delegate, Hanson wasn't involved. The fourth Thursday standard started with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. See: Thanksgiving.