By Mark Bowser
Was George Washington really the first President of the United States? Are you sure?
George Washington became President of the United States in 1789, however, we won the War for Independence in 1781 to earn our freedom from Great Britain. So, what happened during all those intervening years? Were we leaderless? Did we have a functioning government in those years?
After we won the war at Yorktown, the Congress met and drafted a document called the Articles of Confederation. In essence, this was the first Constitution for the United States. And on March 1, 1781 it was ratified by all thirteen colonies making it the law and guiding principles for the infant nation.
At that time Congress elected unanimously a President of the United States. The official title was President of the United States in Congress Assembled. The man the Congress unanimously elected was John Hanson.
John Hanson served for only one year. During that pivotal year, Congress established the Treasury Department. Two other prominent establishments during the Hansen administration included the adoption of the Great Seal of the United State. This seal is still in use to this day. Another prominent accomplishment was that the fourth Thursday of every November would be a day of thanksgiving.
But, did this really make Hanson the first President of the United States? How come we didn’t learn about him in our history classes in school?
George Washington considered Hanson the first president. He addressed him in his correspondence by that title and he congratulated Hansen by saying, “I congratulate your Excellency on your appointment to fill the most important seat in the United States.”
After Hanson’s term was up, Congress elected another president. This went on until the Constitution was adopted in 1789. That is when George Washington was elected President of the United States. So, if we want to get technical about it, Washington was the eighth president, not the first.
But, it is very proper and fitting that George Washington is considered the father of our country and the first President of the United States. He is the first president under the Constitution of the United States. A document that is revered for its wisdom and rights to the people.
So, next year when we celebrate Presidents’ Day, let’s not forget Mr. Hanson and the other six forgotten presidents under the Articles of Confederation. And, let’s celebrate all of the presidents and future presidents that have helped lead the greatest nation in the history of the world. So, now you know. Thanks for reading today.