Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Our Kinda Really First President

We all love the glamour and mythology of George Washington:  General of all the Armies during the Revolution, wealthy landowner, etiquette lover, wooden teeth-wearer, slave owner (yeah, we tend to forget that one), 1st President of the United States, ...

Record scratch

You may not know that America was not originally a constitutional democracy, but a confederation (which meant the states were sovereign entities) from 1776 until the Constitution was ratified in 1789. And while the individual states were free to run things however they chose within their own borders, they still decided that there would be a national one-house ruling body with very limited power called the Congress of the Confederation.

During the eight years that the Congress existed, eight men held the title of President of the Continental Congress - essentially the highest seat in the land - for 1 year each. It wasn’t anywhere near the same thing as the current Presidential office; it was far less powerful and had far different duties.  But it was the closest thing they had to such an office. Thus, the first official “president” of the United States was John Hanson, a delegate from Maryland.  My home state representin'!
Further Presidents of the Continental Congress from 1782 onward were Elias Boudinot, Thomas Mifflin, Richard Henry Lee, John Hancock (yes, that John Hancock), Nathaniel Gorham, Arthur St. Clair, and Cyrus Griffin.

The more you know...