Who was our first President!

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014 @ 1:51PM

Who Was Our First President?


I thought George Washington was our first President – What do I know!

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.. Presidents.  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

country.  John Hanson was chosen unanimously by Congress (which included

George Washington).  In fact, all the other potential candidates refused to

run agains t 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 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 King

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 .

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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.




It took EIGHT years for us to establish a successful government.  You might

just remember this when you hear that so little progress has been made

establishing a Government in Iraq .


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


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