Biographies, articles, genealogical discussions, and other works about John Hanson, including literature regarding his role under the Articles of Confederation, contain more specious "facts" than do works regarding any other president of the Colonial Continental Congress, U.S. Continental Congress or United States in Congress Assembled (USCA) (1774-1788). The errors found in the 21st Century John Hanson accounts are especially prevalent due to the fact that online giants such as Wikipedia and the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress lump all 14 presiding officers into the category of "Continental Congress Presidents." Most recently, Hanson "Flat Earth" myths reached new heights with the pronouncement that John Hanson is the "First Black President of the United States." Even more disturbing, the State of Maryland is about to fund yet another ludicrous "John Hanson First US President Memorial," claiming Hanson's wife, Jane, as the "first First Lady" of the United States.
Proposed Plaque purporting the myth that Jane Hanson is the "First to serve as First Lady of the United States." The plaque is being proposed for the Jane Hanson National Memorial funded by the State of Maryland.
The myth addressed here concerns "Who was the first President of the United States in Congress Assembled?" (USCA President), and not "Who was the first President of the United States under the current U.S. Constitution" (U.S. President).
The USCA Presidential office was established by Article IX in the Articles of Confederation, which states: "... to appoint one of their members to preside, provided that no person be allowed to serve in the office of president more than one year." This first U.S. Constitution, the Articles of Confederation, defined no additional executive, legislative, or judicial duties for the USCA President other than "to preside." Presidential powers, as demarcated in the current U.S. Constitution, were thus left to be defined under the Articles of Confederation by the USCA.
Previous to the enactment of the Articles of Confederation, the first presiding president of the United Colonies Continental Congress was Peyton Randolph while after U.S. Independence, declared on July 2, 1776, the United States Continental Congress' first President was John Hancock. Neither Continental Congress Presidency had the benefit of being established by a ratified constitution. George Washington, who served as Commander-in-Chief under the Colonial Continental Congress, U.S. Continental Congress, and the United States in Congress Assembled, was elected the first President of the United States and Commander-in-Chief under the current United States Constitution. With those Presidents firmly established in the annals of U.S. History, we now turn to a more precisely worded question:
Was John Hanson the first United States in Congress Assembled President to serve under the Articles of Confederation?
Author Seymour Wemyss Smith's claim that John Hanson was the first President of the United States has been around since the turn of the 20th Century. The myth gained prominence when John Hanson’s family began to lobby for their ancestor’s inclusion in the U.S. Capitol’s National Statuary Hall as one of Maryland's two most favored citizens. The family was successful and in 1903 a statue of John Hanson, along with one of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, was included in the National Statuary Hall Collection. The “official" U.S. Federal acknowledgement of President John Hanson as the first President of the “United States in Congress Assembled” or “Congress of the Confederation” occurred at the U.S. Capitol during the January 31, 1903, Reception and Acceptance Statuary Hall Ceremonies.
The speeches of U.S. Senators and other dignitaries maintaining that John Hanson was the first President to serve under the Articles of Confederation are memorialized in the work, Proceedings in the Senate and House of Representatives Upon the Reception and Acceptance from the State of Maryland of the Statues of Charles Carroll of Carrollton and of John Hanson, Erected in Statuary Hall of the Capitol: January 31, 1903, which was ordered, in 1903, by the United States Congress to be printed by the U.S. Government Printing Office. The printed work totals 111 pages and can be found online here.
It is from this U.S. Congressional printing that the "John Hanson First Presidential Myth", purported by his family, gained its dreadful foothold in the annals of Congressional blunders. The work clearly reports that numerous distinguished politicians, including prominent U.S. Senators, wrongfully claimed that John Hanson was the first President to serve under the Articles of Confederation. Specifically, the speech of Louis Emory McComas (1846 - 1907), U.S. Senator of Maryland claimed that John Hanson was the "first President of the Congress of the Confederation:"
John Hanson, of Maryland, was chosen as President, and thus became "President of the United States in Congress Assembled," occupying that exalted position until 1782, during the eventful period when American armies, in conjunction with their French allies, finally triumphed, when beneath the rays of an October sun George Washington received the sword of his captive, Cornwallis... He was the first President of the United States in Congress Assembled.Cornwallis surrendered on October 19, 1781, when Thomas McKean, not John Hanson, was President of the United States in Congress assembled.
The Revolution had two distinct and separate phases. One was the military outcome of the war, under the leadership of George Washington. The other was purely political under the leadership of John Hanson.
In 2009 the John Hanson Memorial Association was incorporated in Frederick, Maryland to create the John Hanson National Memorial and to both educate Americans about Hanson as well as counter the many myths written about him. The Memorial includes a statue of President John Hanson and an interpretive setting in Frederick, Maryland, where Hanson lived between 1769 and his death in 1783. The Memorial is in the Frederick County Courthouse's courtyard at the corner of Court and West Patrick Streets. Leaders of the Memorial include President Peter Hanson Michael, Vice President Robert Hanson and Directors John Hanson Briscoe and John C. Hanson. - John Hanson Wikipedia page.Most disturbing, in 2012, the John Hanson Memorial Association successfully unveiled a Maryland-funded seven foot tall statue of John Hanson in his hometown that maintains the "First President of the United States" myth. Shortly, another $35,000 from the Maryland State coffers will erect a monument to Jane Hanson as "the nation's first, First Lady." On an even more poignant historical note the local Frederick, Maryland history bee was won by a student answering that “John Hanson was the first President of the United States."
The Smithsonian Traveling Exhibit: The American Presidency, A Glorious Burden incorrectly stating that the Continental Congress Presidency under the Articles of Confederation began with John Hanson. In the background, Stan Klos documents include an 18th-Century printing of the United States in Congress Assembled Journals recording John Hanson as its 3rd President under the Articles of Confederation, the first public printing of the United States Constitution of 1787, a President John Hancock letter ordering Major General Arthur St. Clair to defend Fort Ticonderoga, a 1777 printing of the Articles of Confederation, and a letter from President Elias Boudinot to Major General St. Clair regarding the flight of Congress to Princeton in the wake of a United States Army mutiny that surrounded Independence Hall in the summer of 1783. -- Photo Courtesy of Historic.us 
|Photo Courtesy of Historic.us|
The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden Smithsonian Exhibit Entrance - Photo Courtesy of Historic.us
- The Articles of Confederation is the first United States Constitution but its government was not formed with its enactment on March 1, 1781. The Articles of Confederation government actually formed when the United States in Congress Assembled (USCA) convened on November 5, 1781.
- On November 5, 1781, the USCA Delegates elected John Hanson as United States in Congress Assembled President. Hanson, therefore, is the first man to serve as President under the Articles of Confederation and thus the "First President of the United States."
- The Samuel Huntington and Thomas McKean Presidencies are merely carryovers from the Second Continental Congress Presidency, an entirely different Republic. They are not Presidents who served in the United States in Congress Assembled, Articles of Confederation's Government.
The First Presidents of the United Colonies & States of America
Presidential Firsts: 1774 - 1776 - 1781 - 1789
I. The Stile of this Confederacy shall be "The United States of America".
II. Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.
On February 22, 1781, it was unanimously resolved by the U.S. Continental Congress that:On the first day of my appearing in Congress, I delivered the Act empowering the Delegates of Maryland to Subscribe the Articles of Confederation &c.! It was read, & entered on the Journals.
The delegates of Maryland having taken their seats in Congress with powers to sign the Articles of Confederation: Ordered, That Thursday next [March 1, 1781] be assigned for compleating the Confederation; and that a committee of three be appointed, to consider and report a mode for announcing the same to the public: the members, [Mr. George] Walton, Mr. [James] Madison, Mr. [John] Mathews.
Thursday, March 1, 1781: "According to the order of the day, the honble John Hanson and Daniel Carroll, two of the delegates for the State of Maryland, in pursuance of the act of the legislature of that State, entitled "An act to empower the delegates of this State in Congress to subscribe and ratify the Articles of Confederation," which was read in Congress the 12 of February last, and a copy thereof entered on the minutes, did, in behalf of the said State of Maryland, sign and ratify the said articles, by which act the Confederation of the United States of America was completed, each and every of the Thirteen United States, from New Hampshire to Georgia, both included, having adopted and confirmed, and by their delegates in Congress, ratified the same, as follows:" [Journals continue with the full printing of the Articles of Confederation and its signers]. Image courtesy of the Historic.us Collection.
March 12, 1781 Treasury letter referring to Samuel Huntington as "His Excellency, President of the United States in Congress Assembled." - Image Courtesy of Historic.us
March 2, 1781 Entry of The Journals of Congress and the United States in Congress Assembled, For the Year 1781, Published By Order of Congress, Volume VII New York: Printed by John Patterson. This entry reports that a new entity, The United States in Congress Assembled, now governs the United States of America -- Image courtesy of the Historic.us Collection.
The States of New Hampshire and Rhode Island having each but one Member in Congress, they became unrepresented by the Confirmation of the Confederation-By which not more than Seven nor less than two Members is allowed to represent any State -Whereupon General Sullivan, Delegate from New Hampshire moved - That Congress would appoint a Committee of the States, and Adjourn till those States Could Send forward a Sufficient number of Delegates to represent them-Or that they would allow their Delegates now in Congress To give the Vote of the States until one More from each of those States was Sent to Congress to Make their representation Complete.
He alleged that it was but just for Congress to do one or the other of them-for that the act of Congress by completing the Confederation ought not to deprive those States of their representation without giving them due Notice, as their representation was complete before, & that they did not know When the Confederation Would be Completed. Therefore if the Confederation put it out of the power of Congress to Allow the States vote in Congress because there was but one member from each them, they ought in justice to those States to appoint a Committee of the States, in which they would have an Equal Voice. This Motion was Seconded by Genl. Vernon from Rhode Island and enforced by Arguments to the same purpose.But all their Arguments were ably confuted by Mr. Burke of N.C. and others, and the absurdity of the motion fully pointed out, So that the question passed off without a Division -But it was the general Opinion of Congress that those members might Continue to Sit in Congress, and Debate & Serve on Committees though they could not give the vote of their States.
The Articles of Confederation government was thus deemed to be in full force by the USCA, with Samuel Huntington, not John Hanson, as the President. As irrefutable proof that Samuel Huntington's USCA was obliged to comply with the Articles of Confederation, below is an image of two different entries from the Journals of Congress. The first entry is from the December 24th, 1778, Continental Congress vote tally taken while President Henry Laurens was presiding. The states of New Hampshire, Delaware, Rhode Island, and Georgia each had only one delegate present, and the States' votes of "ay" were registered as "ay" in the tally:
Thursday, December 24, 1778 Journals of Congress entry of the US Continental Congress vote on " the support of the charge against Brigadier Thompson, be rejected, and that the deposition of Colonel Noarth, produced last night by Brigadier Thompson in his own exculpation from the charge, be also rejected ... passed in the negative" Journals of Congress Containing the proceedings from January 1st, 1779 to Jan. 1st, 1780 PUBLISHED BY ORDER OF Congress, Philadelphia, by David Claypoole, VOLUME V. -- Image courtesy of the Historic.us Collection.
Thursday, MARCH 22, 1781 Journals of Congress entry of the USCA vote "Resolved, That there be one deputy director of the military hospitals,in the Southern district subject to the general control of the director... So it passed in the negative." The Journals of Congress and the United States in Congress Assembled, For the Year 1781, Published By Order of Congress, Volume VII New York: Printed by John Patterson. -- Image courtesy of the Historic.us Collection.
Wednesday, November 14, 1781 Journals of Congress entry of the USCA vote "That the first Tuesday of December next, be assigned for the consideration of the report of the committee, to whom were referred the cessions of New York, Virginia, Connecticut, and the petitions of the Indiana, Vandalia, Illionois, and Wabash companies. A motion was made by Mr. Smith, seconded by Mr. Varnum, to amend, by adding, "provided that eleven states shall be then represented." On the question to agree to the amendment, the yeas and nays being required by Mr. Varnum, ... So it passed in the negative." The Journals of Congress and the United States in Congress Assembled, For the Year 1781, Published By Order of Congress, Volume VII New York: Printed by John Patterson. -- Image courtesy of the Historic.us Collection.
Rules for Conduction Business, in the United States in Congress Assembled dated May 4th, 1781, in this entry of The Journals of Congress and the United States in Congress Assembled, For the Year 1781, Published By Order of Congress, Volume VII New York: Printed by John Patterson. This entry reports the that new governing entity, The United States in Congress Assembled, now governs the United States of America -- Image courtesy of the Historic.us Collection.
Rules for Conducting Business in the United States in Congress Assembled. May 4th, 1781
1. As soon as seven states are met the President may assume the chair, upon which the members shall take their seats.
2. The minutes of the preceding day shall then be read, and after that the public letters, petitions and memorials, if any have been received or presented.
3. Every letter, petition or memorial read, on which no order is moved, shall of course be considered as ordered to lie on the table, and may be taken up at any future time.
4. After the public dispatches, &c., the reports of committees which may have been delivered by them to the secretary during that morning or the preceding day shall, for the information of the house, be read in the order in which they were delivered, and, if it is judged proper, a day be assigned for considering them.
5. After the public letters, &c., are read, and orders given concerning them, the reports of the Board of Treasury and of the Board of War, if any, shall be taken into consideration; but none of those subjects for the determination of which the assent of nine states is requisite shall be agitated or debated, except when nine states or more are assembled. When a doubt is raised whether any motion or question is of the number of those for the determination of which in the affirmative the articles of confederation require the assent of nine states, the votes and assent of nine states shall always be necessary to solve that doubt, and to determine upon such motions or questions.
6. When a report, which has been read and lies for consideration, is called for it shall immediately be taken up. If two or more are called for, the titles of the several reports shall be read, and then the President shall put the question beginning with the first called for, but there shall be no debate, and the votes of a majority of the states present shall determine which is to be taken up.
7. An order of the day, when called for by a State shall always have the preference and shall not be postponed but by the votes of a majority of the United States in Congress assembled.
8. When a report is brought forward for consideration it shall first be read over and then debated by paragraphs and each paragraph shall be subject to amendments. If it relates only to one subject being in the nature of an ordinance it shall be subject to such additions as may be judged proper to render it complete and then it shall be read over as it stands amended and a question taken upon the whole: But if it comprehends different subjects, independent one of another, in the form of distinct acts or resolutions a question shall be taken on each and finally a question on the whole.
9. No motion shall be received unless it be made or Negatived, seconded by a state. When any ordinance is introduced by report or otherwise, it shall be read a first time for the information of the house without debate. The President shall then put the following question "Shall this ordinance be read a second time." If it passes in the affirmative then a time shall be appointed for that purpose when it shall be read and debated by paragraphs and when gone through, the question shall be "Shall this ordinance be read a third time"; if agreed to, and a time appointed, it shall be accordingly read by paragraphs, and if necessary debated, and when gone through the question shall be "Shall this ordinance pass", if the vote is in the affirmative, a fair copy shall then be made out by the Secretary, either on parchment or paper and signed by the President and attested by the Secretary in Congress and recorded in the Secretary's office.
10. When a motion is made and seconded it shall be repeated by the President or If he or any other member desire being in writing it shall be delivered to the President in writing and read aloud at the table before it, shall be debated.
11. Every motion shall be reduced to writing and read at the table before it is debated if the President or any member require it.
12. After a motion is repeated by the President or read at the table it shall then be in the possession of the house, but may at any time before decision, be withdrawn, with the consent of a majority of the states present.
13. No member shall speak more than twice in any one debate on the same day, with-out leave of the house, nor shall any member speak twice in a debate until every member, who chooses, shall have spoken once on the same.
14. Before an original motion shall be brought before the house, it shall be entered in a book to be kept for the purpose and to lie on the table for the inspection of the members, and the time shall be mentioned underneath when the motion is to be made, that the members may some prepared and nothing he brought on hastily or by surprise.
15. When a question is before the house and under debate, no motion shall be received unless for amending it, for the previous question, or to postpone the consideration of the main question or to commit it.
16. No new motion or proposition shall be admitted under color of amendment as a substitute for the question or proposition under debate until it is postponed or disagreed to.
17. When a motion is made to amend by striking out certain words, whether for the purpose of inserting other words or not, the first question shall be "Shall the words moved to be struck out stand?"
18. The previous question (which is always to be understood in this sense that the main question be not now put) shall only be admitted when in the judgment of two states at least, the subject moved is in its nature or from the circumstances of time or place improper to be debated or decided, and shall therefore preclude all amendments and farther debates on the subject, until it is decided.
19. A motion for commitment shall also have preference and preclude all amendments and debates on the subject until it shall be decided.
20. On motions for the previous question for committing or for postponing no member shall speak more than once without leave of the house.
21. When any subject shall be deemed so important as to require mature discussionor deliberation before it be submitted to the decision of the United States in Congress assembled, it shall be referred to the consideration of a grand committee consisting of one member present from each State, and in such case each State shall nominate its member. But the United States in Congress assembled shall in no case whatever be resolved into a committee of the whole. Every member may attend the debates of a grand committee and for that purpose the time and place of its meeting shall be fixed by the United States in Congress assembled.
22. The states shall ballot for small committees, but if upon counting the ballots, the number required shall not be elected by a majority of the United States in Congress assembled, the President shall name the members who have been balloted for, and the house shall by a vote or votes determine the committee.
23. If a question under debate contains several points any member may have it divided.
24. When a question is about to be put, it shall be in the power of any one of the states to postpone the determination thereof until the next day, and in such case, unless it shall be further postponed by order of the house the question shall, the next day immediately after reading the public dispatches, &c. and before the house go upon other business, be put without any debate, provided there be a sufficient number of states present to determine it; if that should not be the case, it shall be put without debate as soon as a sufficient number shall have assembled.
25. If any member choose to have the yeas and nays taken upon any question, he shall move for the same previous to the President's putting the question and in such case every member present shall openly and without debate declare by ay or no his assent or dissent to the question.
26. When an ordinance act or resolution is introduced with a preamble, the ordinance, act or resolution shall be first debated, and after it is passed, the preamble if judged necessary shall be adapted thereto: But if the preamble states some matter or thing as fact to which the house do not agree by general consent, and the ordinance, act or resolution is grounded thereon, the preamble shall be withdrawn or the fact resolved on as it appears to the house previous to any debate on the ordinance act or resolution; and if the fact shall not be established to the satisfaction of a majority of the United States in Congress assembled, the ordinance, act or resolution shall fall of course.
27. Every member when he chooses to speak shall rise and address the President. When two members chance to rise at the same time, the President shall name the person who is to speak first. Every member both in debate, and while the states are assembled shall conduct himself with the utmost decency and decorum. If any member shall transgress, the President shall call to order. In case the disorder be continued or repeated the President may name the person transgressing. Any member may call to order.
28. When a member is called to order, he shall immediately sit down. If he has been named as a transgressor, his conduct shall be inquired into and he shall be liable to a censure.
29. When a question of order is moved, the President if he is in doubt may call for the judgment of the house, otherwise he shall in the first instance give a decision, and an appeal shall lie to the house, but there shall be no debate on questions of order,except that a member called to order for irregular or unbecoming conduct or for improper expressions may be allowed to explain.
30. A motion to adjourn may be made at any time and shall always be in order, and the question thereon shall always be put without any debate.
31. No member shall leave Congress without permission of Congress or of his constituents.
32. No member shall read any printed paper in the house during the sitting thereof.
33. On every Monday after reading and taking order on the public dispatches a committee of three shall be appointed, who shall every morning during the week report to Congress the orders necessary to be made on such dispatches as may be received during the adjournment or sitting of Congress, upon which no orders shall have been made. The members of such Committee not to be eligible a second time until all the other members have served.
34. The habit of a member of Congress in future shall be a plain purple gown with open-sleeves, plaited at the bend of the arm. And that no member be allowed to sit in Congress without such habit.
35. The members of each state shall sit together in Congress, for the more ready conference with each other on any question above be taken that the house might not be disturbed by the members moving Postponed. from one part to another to conferone the vote to be given. That for the better observance of order, New Hampshire shall sit on the left hand of the President and on every question be first called, and each state from thence to Georgia shall take their seats in the order that their states are situated to each other. The delegates of the respective states to sit in their order of seniority.
The members, Mr. Mathews, Mr. Carroll, Mr. Sullivan.
USCA Journals 1781 printing open to the July 9 & 10th, 1781 entries recording the elections of Samuel Johnston and Thomas McKean as Presidents of the United States in Congress Assembled four months before John Hanson's Presidency. - Image courtesy of the Historic.us Collection.
Sir: I must beg you to remind Congress, that when they did me the honor of electing me President, and before I assumed the Chair, I informed them, that as Chief Justice of Pennsylvania, I should be under the necessity of attending the Supreme Court of that State, the latter end of September, or at farthest in October. That court will be held today; I must therefore request, that they will be pleased to proceed to the choice of another President.
I am, sir, with much respect, your most obedient humble servant,
Thos. McKean.The United States in Congress Assembled resolved: "That the resignation of Mr. [Thomas] McKean is accepted. Ordered, That the election of a President be postponed until to-morrow." The following day Secretary Charles Thomson presented Commander-in-Chief George Washington's letter to Congress, "giving information of the reduction of the British army under the command of the Earl of Cornwallis, on the 19th instant with a copy of the articles of capitulation."
An elated USCA resolved, among other resolutions, that:
Unanimously, That Mr. [Thomas] McKean be requested to resume the chair, and act as President till the first Monday in November next; the resolution of yesterday notwithstanding.
That it be an instruction to the said committee, to report what in their opinion, will be the most proper mode of communicating the thanks of the United States in Congress Assembled, to General Washington, Count de Rochambeau and Count de Grasse, for their effectual exertions in accomplishing this illustrious work; and of paying respect to the merit of Lieutenant Colonel Tilghman, aid-de-camp of General Washington, and the bearer of his despatches announcing this happy event"
Their credentials being read, Congress proceeded to the election of a President; and the ballots being taken, the honorable John Hanson was elected.
November 5, 1781 - Journals of the United States in Congress Assembled - "Congress proceeded to the election of President; and the ballots being taken, The honorable, John Hanson elected" - The Journals of Congress and the United States in Congress Assembled, For the Year 1781, Published By Order of Congress, Volume VII New York: Printed by John Patterson. - Image courtesy of the Historic.us Collection
"On March 2, 1781, the Second Continental Congress is succeeded by the interim Congress of the Confederation with scant powers with the same delegates and officers as from the Second Continental Congress." On November 4th the Confederation goes out of existence to be replaced by the United States in Congress Assembled ... November 5, 1781, the United States in Congress Assembled, the nation's first government, springs into being ... as its first act, the new United States in Congress Assembled unanimously elects John Hanson of Frederick, Maryland, to a one year term as the nation's first president. Hanson becomes first president under any form of the United States government elected to a stated fixed term. President Hanson becomes first in the nation's history to be recognized at home or abroad as head of state."
The specious claims made in this brief JHMA published timeline are numerous. Most of this and other John Hanson First US President myths can be debunked by refuting the following Hansonite claim:
The United States in Congress Assembled did not commence its first session until a congress of delegates, duly elected after the March 1st 1781, enactment of the Articles of Confederation, formed on the first Monday of November 1781.It is prudent to address this claim in its two parts.
Myth Part One: "The ratified Articles of Confederation required that the first USCA could only form on the first Monday of November 1781."
The Articles of Confederation says nothing about when the first USCA must form. What Article IX, in the Articles of Confederation does state is:
V. For the most convenient management of the general interests of the United States, delegates shall be annually appointed in such manner as the legislatures of each State shall direct, to meet in Congress on the first Monday in November, in every year, with a power reserved to each State to recall its delegates, or any of them, at any time within the year, and to send others in their stead for the remainder of the year.This does not mean, however, that the only time the first or a new United States in Congress Assembled could initially convene was on the first Monday in November. If we examine the USCA Congressional start dates in its nine sessions, the Journals of Congress record only three sessions convening on the "First Monday in November." Five sessions convened after the "First Monday in November" to conduct the nation's business. The 9th Session failed, after several attempts, to convene at all.
The first USCA was one of the five sessions that convened late because the Articles of Confederation was not ratified in time to begin its 1780-1781 session on the First Monday in November." Here is the list of the Eight USCA Sessions, dates and Presidents:
*Samuel Johnston was also elected to the First USCA Presidency but the following day declined the office.
Myth Part Two: The Articles of Confederation required that delegates forming the first USCA must be appointed by their respective states, after its March 1st, 1781, enactment.
This condition is found nowhere in the Articles of Confederation. For the sake of expediency, however, if we were to accept this assertion as true, then the USCA 1781-1782 Congress nevertheless failed to meet this Hansonite test.
The facts in the Journals of Congress record that the State of Delaware's credentials presented on November 5, 1781, to the USCA 1781-1782 Congress were outdated because its delegates were duly appointed on February 10, 1781, or 18 days before the March 1st, 1781, enactment of the Articles of Confederation. The November 5, 1781, date in the Journals of Congress records Delaware's credentials being presented as such:
In the general assembly of the Delaware State, at New Castle, Saturday, A.M. February 10, 1781. The Council and House of Assembly, having met in the State-House, agreeable to the Order of the Day, proceeded, by joint Ballot, to the Election of Delegates to represent this State in the Congress of the United States of America, for the ensuing year, and the Box containing the Ballots being examined, The Honorable Thomas Rodney, Thomas McKean and Nicholas Vandyke, Esquires, are declared duly elected. Extract from the Minutes, James Booth Clerk of AssemblyIronically, even the Maryland Delegation failed the Hansonite test because its delegate appointments occurred on February 3rd, 1781, 25 days before the Articles of Confederation enactment. This means that John Hanson was not appointed as a duly "enacted" Articles of Confederation Delegate. The November 5th, 1781, Journals of Congress record Maryland's credentials being presented as such:
Maryland, Annapolis 3 Feb. 1781. We hereby certify that John Hanson, Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer, Daniel Carroll and Richard Potts Esquires are elected Delegates to represent this State in Congress for the Year One thousand seven hundred and Eighty one. -James Maccubbin, Clerk,In the event that the Hansonites, including the Legislature of Maryland, have changed their position maintaining that the constitution requires a USCA formed by duly elected delegates after February 2, 1781 (the date that Maryland completed the unanimous Articles of Confederation ratification), please consider these two credential facts:
- The November 5, 1781, Journals of Congress record that the State Of Pennsylvania's Delegate credentials were issued "In the General Assembly, Thursday 23rd. November 1780."
- The November 5, 1781, Journals of Congress record that the State Of New Hampshire's credentials were issued "In Council January 18th, 1781."
Therefore, two delegations that formed the November 5th, 1781, USCA were appointed before Maryland ratified the Articles of Confederation (February 2, 1781) and thus by Hansonite reasoning were not qualified to participate in the USCA 1781-1782 session and elect John Hanson, President.
This means, according to Hansonite logic, that John Hanson is also a JHMA proclaimed interim "Congress of the Confederation" President. Why? Well, without including New Hampshire's and Pennsylvania's Delegates in congress, only Six States formed the USCA 1781-1782 Congress on November 5th, 1781. Since the Articles of Confederation required that at least seven states with two or more delegates be in attendance to convene, one must conclude that the election of John Hanson, like Samuel Huntington and Thomas McKean, was a JHMA proclaimed "Congress of the Confederation" Presidency. This Hansonite Catch 22 (it rules out Samuel Huntington, Thomas McKean, and John Hanson as USCA Presidents) is very entertaining but in the end nonsense.
The truth is that all the delegates of March 2nd, and November 5th, 1781, were credentialed after their respective states ratified the Articles of Confederation. Therefore, Presidents Samuel Huntington, Thomas McKean, and John Hanson were all USCA Presidents presiding over delegates appointed only after their respective states ratified the Articles of Confederation.
Other JMHA John Hanson assertions:
There are numerous claims on the JHMA's John Hanson's timeline to refute but I will only address the one that is not blatantly specious but, nevertheless, incorrect:
Hanson becomes first president under any form of the United States government elected to a stated fixed term.Although presidents were limited to one year of service in the USCA, such service could span between two different sessions as long as the President's service did not exceed 365 days. Specifically, Article IX states of the presidency that the USCA has the power:
to appoint one of their members to preside, provided that no person be allowed to serve in the office of president more than one year in any term of three years.There was thus no "stated fixed term" for USCA President as opposed to U.S. Presidency under the Constitution of 1787. A prime example of this flexiblity was the presidency of Cyrus Griffin, elected president by the 8th USCA Congress on January 21st, 1788. The 9th USCA Congress failed to form on the "First Monday in November" in 1788, and since he had not served 365 days, Griffin continued in the office as President. In fact, the 9th USCA Congress never mustered enough delegates even after Griffin's constitutional office expired on the 366th day, January 21st, 1789. Despite this, at George Washington's inauguration, Congress agreed:
That seats be provided in the Senate-Chamber sufficient to accommodate the late President of the United States in Congress Assembled [Cyrus Griffin], the Governor of the Western territory [Arthur St Clair], the five persons being the heads of the three great departments [Secretary of Foreign Affairs John Jay, Secretary of War Henry Knox, Commissioners of the Treasury Arthur Lee, Walter Livingston, and Samuel Osgood].... Now moving back to citing evidence that Thomas McKean's served as the second USCA President, please review the John Hanson presidential letter, dated November 10th, 1781, issuing the “official thanks”  of the USCA to Thomas McKean for his presidential service:
It is always a pleasing task to pay a just tribute to distinguished Merit. Under this impression give me leave to assure you, that it is with inexpressible satisfaction that I present you the thanks of the United States in Congress assembled, in testimony of their approbation of your conduct in the Chair and in the execution of public business; a duty I am directed to perform by their Act of the 7th instant, a copy of which I have the honor of enclosing.When I reflect upon the great abilities, the exemplary patience and unequalled skill and punctuality, which you so eminently displayed in executing the important duties of a President, it must unavoidably be productive of great apprehensions in the one who has the honor of being your Successor. But the Choice of Congress obliges me for a moment to be silent on the subject of my own inability: And altho' I cannot equal the bright example that is recently set me, yet it shall be my unremitting study to imitate it as far as possible; and in doing this the reflection is pleasing that I shall invariably pursue the sacred path of Virtue, which alone ought to preserve me free from censure. 
March 1, 1781 to March 3, 1789
March 1, 1781
July 6, 1781
July 10, 1781
July 10, 1781
November 4, 1781
November 5, 1781
November 3, 1782
November 4, 1782
November 2, 1783
November 3, 1783
June 3, 1784
November 30, 1784
November 22, 1785
November 23, 1785
June 5, 1786
June 6, 1786
February 1, 1787
February 2, 1787
January 21, 1788
January 22, 1788
January 21, 1789
|Commander-in-Chief George Washington|
While all other presidents of the first government and those under the Constitution inherited a functioning government, Hanson and his cabinet had to fashion one anew from whole cloth.The content of this article is easily debunked simply by reviewing the Journals of the Continental Congress. President John Hanson and his "cabinet" did not have to fashion one [government] anew from whole cloth," nor did Hanson and the Second United States in Congress Assembled Delegates appoint politicians to the posts that birthed "today's Secretaries of State, Treasury and Defense."
Cabinet positions were created in the order of Foreign Affairs, Finance and War, today's Secretaries of State, Treasury and Defense, the hierarchy followed in modern protocol and presidential succession.
Weeks into Hanson's administration, the nation's first central bank, the Bank of North America, predecessor to today's Federal Reserve, began operation near Independence Hall.
Hanson's appointments of Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, John Jay and Henry Laurens as the American team sent to Paris to negotiate peace with Britain were singularly instrumental in what has been reckoned "the greatest victory in the annals of American diplomacy," a negotiating triumph doubling the area of the United States.
With Hanson's sure-handed guidance and dazzling appointments, brilliant is not too strong a term describing his administration's foreign affairs performance. Few administrations since can claim diplomatic advances matching those of Hanson's presidency, all not in a four-year span of modern administrations but in a single year.
Here are the facts, which can easily be corroborated by checking the Library of Congress online Journals of Congress.
- Foreign Affairs - On January 10, 1781, the US Continental Congress created the Department of Foreign Affairs. Samuel Huntington, not John Hanson, was the President. On August 10th, 1781, the USCA elected the first Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Robert R. Livingston. Thomas McKean, not John Hanson, was President.
- Finance - On February 7th, 1781, the office of Superintendent of Finance was created by the US Continental Congress and in a unanimous vote, Congress appointed Robert Morris, on February 10th 1781, to be the first and only Superintendent. Samuel Huntington, not John Hanson, was the President.
- War - On October 30th, 1781 the USCA elected Benjamin Lincoln the first Secretary of War. Thomas McKean, not John Hanson, was President.
- Treasury - The office of Secretary of the Treasury did not exist in the Colonial Continental Congress, U.S. Continental Congress, or in the United States in Congress Assembled governments. The office of Treasurer, however, did exist in the early republics. On July 29th, 1775, the U.S. Continental Congress resolved, "That Michael Hillegas, and George Clymer, Esqrs. be, and they are hereby appointed, joint treasurers of the United Colonies." John Hancock was President. On May 14th, 1777, the U.S. Continental Congress enacted a resolution, in an attempt to improve United States Lottery sales and build confidence in the federal notes, that named Michael Hillegas as the sole Treasurer of the United States. John Hancock was President. On September 1st, 1781, the USCA reformulated the U.S. Treasury and on the 19th elected Michael Hillegas as the first U.S. Treasurer under the Articles of Confederation. Thomas McKean, not John Hanson, was President. On September 2nd, 1789, An Act to Establish the Treasury Department was passed under the U.S. Constitution of 1787. Michael Hillegas continued to serve as U.S. Treasurer after its passage until September 11th, 1789, when Samuel Meredith became the first Treasurer appointed by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. George Washington was President.
- The Office of Secretary of State did not exist in the U.S. Continental Congress or the United States in Congress Assembled governments. The position of Secretary of the Continental Congress and the United States in Congress Assembled, however, was created by the Colonial Continental Congress on September 5th, 1774, and Charles Thomson was appointed Secretary. Peyton Randolph was the President. Secretary Charles Thomson would serve as this Secretary through the three founding republics until March 3, 1789. On September 15th, 1789 “An Act to provide for the safe keeping of the Acts, Records and Seal of the United States, and for other purposes” became law with President George Washington’s approval. This law changed the name of the Department of Foreign Affairs to the Department of State and created the position of United States Secretary of State. George Washington was President.
Resolved that Congress do approve the plan for establishing a national bank in these United States, Submitted to their consideration by Mr. R. Morris the 17th May 1781... So it was Resolved in the Affirmative. The Journals of Congress and the United States in Congress Assembled, For the Year 1781, Published By Order of Congress, Volume VII New York: Printed by John Patterson. - Image courtesy of the Historic.us Collection
In reality, as a USCA Maryland Delegate before his presidency, John Hanson was a strong supporter of stripping what little power the presidency had in the first USCA session, by legislating it to department executives and committees. Hanson believed the nation should be primarily governed by the Committee of the States, which was defined in the Articles of Confederation in Article IX:
The United States in Congress assembled shall have authority to appoint a committee, to sit in the recess of Congress, to be denominated 'A Committee of the States', and to consist of one delegate from each State; and to appoint such other committees and civil officers as may be necessary for managing the general affairs of the United States under their direction.By the time President John Hanson took office in November 1781, he and his fellow delegates had neutered the Presidency by empowering committees, new departments, and enacting USCA operating rules. Additionally, the Articles of Confederation required a minimum of two delegates from each state to form a quorum count of at least nine States to pass “major” legislation as prescribed in Article IX:
The United States in Congress assembled shall never engage in a war, nor grant letters of marquee or reprisal in time of peace, nor enter into any treaties or alliances, nor coin money, nor regulate the value thereof, nor ascertain the sums and expenses necessary for the defense and welfare of the United States, or any of them, nor emit bills, nor borrow money on the credit of the United States, nor appropriate money, nor agree upon the number of vessels of war, to be built or purchased, or the number of land or sea forces to be raised, nor appoint a commander in chief of the army or navy, unless nine States assent to the same: nor shall a question on any other point, except for adjourning from day to day be determined, unless by the votes of the majority of the United States in Congress assembled.This relegated the President to the duties of a passive chair (no agenda powers) as one of 18 Delegates (Nine States, two delegate minimum), at best, in deciding important matters of State. This new USCA Presidency was very weak in comparison to the Continental Congress Presidents, who controlled the agenda as well as the mail (they read it first and decided what was to be brought before Congress) and were empowered to convene Congress with only one delegate present from only seven States. A Continental Congress President, after deciding what matters came before his congress, was empowered to vote on crucial legislation during the Revolutionary War as one Delegate representing his state with only six other states present (minimum quorum number was seven states with one delegate each). The USCA Presidents wielded no such powers, after the enactment of the rules, under the ratified Articles of Confederation.
John Hanson wanted no part of a potent Presidency and even shunned the duties of presidential correspondence. When the volume of Continental Congress and USCA presidential correspondence is reviewed statistically, researchers have found it had crested at slightly over 50 letters per month during the Presidency of Henry Laurens, remained relatively constant at about 40 letters per month during the terms of John Jay and Samuel Huntington, and dropped off to about 30 letters per month with President Thomas McKean. President John Hanson, who was up next, chafed at even this modest level of letter-writing presidential responsibility. On January 28, 1782, President Hanson championed and secured the adoption of a congressional resolution transferring to USCA Secretary Charles Thomson the primary responsibility for communicating USCA legislation,
"In order that the President may be relieved from the business with which he is unnecessarily incumbered." Journals of the USCA – 01-28-1782Accordingly, the flow of Hanson Presidential letters immediately slowed to a trickle.
John Hanson wrote only 36 presidential letters during his first three months as president, and only 18 survive from his last nine months in office; they are distributed as follows: February-1, March-6, April-0, May-1, June-3, July-2, August-2, September-I, and October-2. The flow of the presidential correspondence was of course always conditioned by external events, but Hanson's personal responsibility for the dramatic reduction that took place in 1782 seems clear from the fact that his successor, Elias Boudinot, wrote over 140 presidential letters the following congressional year, and in 1783-84 President Thomas Mifflin wrote over 60 during the six months that Congress was actually in session during his presidency.
John Hanson was at best a Laissez-faire President. The current Maryland State Legislature, John Hanson Memorial Association, State of Maryland, and other Hansonite proponents, have failed to do their research. Consequently, they are doing the nation a great harm by purporting these and other John Hanson myths that greatly confuse a trusting public.
I have not the least inclination to purchase Mr. Bowles's Hand. Sally I am persuaded will be very easy without him-if she wants to be sold I have no objection to let Mr. Bowles have her, at £100 (not less). Bond on Interest for the money will do. I observe Mr. Lee, Mr. Addison, and J Hanson, have advertised their Negroes for Sale. I was surprised at it. I did not know the motive, and wish their plan may Succeed.
As a final proof that President John Hanson was a slave holder and not a Black Moor, the images of his Last Will and Testament are published below along with its transcription:
In the name of God Amen. I, John Hanson of Frederick Town in Frederick County being in Good Health but considering the uncertainty of Human Life do make and ordain this my last will and Testiment as follows Vizt.
I give and Bequeath to my son Alexander Contee Hanson one Negro Woman Named Sal and her son Charles Roger and her Daughter Named Nan, one Negro man named John and one Negro man Commonly Called Ned Barnes two feather Beds Such as my Wife may Choose to Part with one Silver Pint Cup Six Silver Table Spoons Six Silver Tea Spoons and one pair of Silver Tea Tongs to him and his heirs forever.
The Lots or portions of Ground remaining unsold of the ground I purchased of Benjamin Delaney Esq. Adjoining to Frederick Town I desire may be sold by my Ex. Hereafter named and the Money Arising from Such Sale be paid one third thereof to Richard Potts one third to Doctor Philip Thomas and the remaining third may be Divided Between my wife and Son Alexander
I Give and bequeath to my Grand Daughter Catherine Thomas one Negro Boy (nan’s son) named Bill to her and her heirs forever.
I Give and Bequeath to my Grand Daughter Rebecca Thomas one Negro Girl Named Charity (Moll’s Child) to her and her heirs forever.
I give and Bequeath to my Grand Son John Hanson Thomas one Negro Boy named Bob and the Child my Negro Nan is now big with one feather Bed and Twenty Pounds in Current Money to him and his heirs forever.
I Give and Bequeath to my Beloved Wife Jane Hanson my Lots and Houses in Frederick Town and which I purchased of a certain Adam Koon for and during her Natural life and after her Decease I Give the said Lots and Houses to my son Alexander and his heirs forever the remaining part of my personal Estate not herein before Divided
I Also Give and Bequeath to my said Wife forever.
My will is that Debts which may be Justly due and owing from me at the time of my Death my be paid and satisfied out of the Debts that may be due and owing to me and if those Debts or what may be Collected be not Sufficient to discharge what I owe then my will is that the Deficiency be paid and Satisfied out of the Legacies given to my Son Alexander and out of the Residuary part of my Personal Estate to my Wife in due proportion according to the Value of the Personal estate hereby bequeathed to each of them.
I give and Bequeath to my much esteemed Son in Law Doct. Philip Thomas one Mourning Ring
Lastly I Constitute and Ordain my Wife Sole Executrix of this my last Will and Testament And I desire my Estate may not be Appraised or any Inventory thereof returned unless she shall Choose to Appraise and Inventory the same And I do hereby revoke all former Wills by me made and in Testimony Whereof I have in the presence of the Witnessed Subscribing Signed Published and Declared this to be my last will and affix my seal to the same this 20th day of September 1781
Signed Sealed Published and
John Hanson jr (seal)
Declared in the Presence of us (signature)John Nelson, Jeffery Magruder, Rich Butler
Frederick County April 13th 1784 Then came Jane Hanson and made Oath that the a foregoing Instrument of writing is the True and Whole Will and Testiment of John Hanson late of Frederick County Deceased that hath Come to her hands in Posession and that she Doth not know of any other - Geo. Murdock Regt.
Frederick County April 13th 1784 Then came Richard Butler one of the Subscribing Witnesses to the aforegoing Last Will and Testament of John Hanson late of Frederick County Deceased and made Oath the Holy evangelists
The Second United American Republic
Continental Congress of the United States Presidents
March 1, 1781
July 6, 1781
July 10, 1781
July 10, 1781
November 4, 1781
November 5, 1781
November 3, 1782
November 4, 1782
November 2, 1783
November 3, 1783
June 3, 1784
November 30, 1784
November 22, 1785
November 23, 1785
June 5, 1786
June 6, 1786
February 1, 1787
February 2, 1787
January 21, 1788
January 22, 1788
January 21, 1789
 LDC, 1774-1789, LDC Editor notes to the letter of John Hanson to Thomas McKean 10th Nov. 1781
 LDC, 1774-1789, LDC Editor notes to the letter of John Hanson to Thomas McKean 10th Nov. 1781
 Broadside Announcing Ceremonial for Washington's Inauguration, 29 April 1789 - Library of Congress Collection
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