History

Who was the first President of the United States?

I suspect George Washington was your first guess.
After all, who else comes to mind?

But think back to your history books – The United States declared its
independence in 1776, yet George Washington did not take Office until
April 30, 1789.

So who was running the country during these initial years of our 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, was the first President of the United States.

John Hanson, first President of the United States ?

Check Google for more detailed information. There was also a U.S. stamp
made in his honor.

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 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.
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. John Hanson
2. Elias Boudinot (1782-83),
3. Thomas Mifflin (1783-84),
4. Richard Henry Lee (1784-85),
5. John Hancock (1785-86),
6. Nathan Gorman (1786-87),
7. Arthur St. Clair (1787-88), and
8. Cyrus Griffin (1788-89),
…all prior to George 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 definitely was 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 have been forgotten.
There you are – today’s history another lesson