The So-Called First President, John Hanson, Dies – 11/22/1783

US History |

Many people would say that the first President of the United States was George Washington. This is historically correct but interestingly, there might be a debate over that as others would argue that a different person held this position first. The first president of the Continental Congress listed in the Articles of Confederation was John Hanson, who died in his home state of Maryland on November 22nd, 1783. There are those who refer to Hanson as being the original President of the United States but this is considered to be an inaccurate label because the role of the president as an executive position that was by itself from Congress didn’t exist until this role was created in the federal Constitution until it was ratified in 1789.

John’s parents were farmers and were self-educated in Charles County, Maryland. Hanson’s family had lived here for three generations starting with the emigration of his grandfather from England in which he was named after. When John was 25, he married Jane Contee in Maryland who was 16-years-old. Their long marriage resulted in the upbringing of nine children in which five were able to become adults; however, later on their son Peter died in action in November of 1776 as a Continental soldier in New York while at Fort Washington.

Hanson’s election to the Maryland Colonial Assembly launched his political career in 1757. John would represent Charles County more than once from 1758-1763, 1765, 1766 and again from 1768-1769. When Colonial-British relations started to deteriorate, he became part of the revolutionary Annapolis Convention that eventually took control from the British of the colony in 1774 and in 1776 adopted the new name of Assembly of Freemen. Known for his publicly support of the Patriot cause, John was mainly responsible in the decision by Maryland to support rebels attacking Boston under British control as a result of the battles of Concord and Lexington.

Hanson became a delegate in 1779 to the Continental Congress. He would then go on to serve there which also included being the president of Congress for one term from 1780-1782. The role of his presidency from 1781-1782 can be explained as having the same position in the British Parliament as a prime minister would. This time period also saw the ratification of the Articles of Confederation as well as the well-known battle at Yorktown, Virginia where the British army was defeated by General George Washington. When the final ratification of the Articles occurred on March 1st, 1781 the Continental Congress ceased to exist; instead, rising in its place was now the “Congress of the Confederation” or what others would call the “United States in Congress Assembled.” Hanson was not the original president of the United States but was the original president of that body. Presently, there are some who still believe that John Hanson was our first president and not the famous General George Washington. What do you think?

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Chakara Rosa


Chakara can take on any story given and get it done within the day. She is a vital asset to her colleagues as she is always willing to assist in any way she can to help the team get deadlines in on time. She writes for our history department but has been known to take on other stories and write the heck out of them.