We are living in the Me Age. And in this Me Age, it is fashionable to question every statement ~ but not just question the content or substance of it. Rather, it is fashionable to assume that every statement made by someone other than oneself should be subject to revisionism. A statement made by someone other than yourself couldn't possibly be accurate and true, could it? It seems that most people accept conspiracy theories more readily than the truth. In this modern age of technology and instant global communication via the internet, it only takes a few seconds after someone makes a statement for multitudes of others to begin to try to prove it false. Thus it is in regard to the Presidency of the United States of America.
One of the fashionable things to question now is if George Washington was actually the first president of the United States of America. I'll come back to this point in a minute.
In 2009, Barack Obama was inagurated as the 44th President of the United States of America. His father was negroid (black) while his mother was caucasoid (white). According to the "One Drop Rule" classification defined by the Virginia General Assembly in 1924, and later adopted by the United States Congress as a means to more distinctly categorize the citizens of the nation in its censuses, a person would be designated as negroid or 'black' if he or she had inherited as little as one drop of negroid blood from his/her ancestors. Children of mixed race unions had, historically, been refered to as mulatto (which translates as 'multi-racial'); but the One Drop Rule superceded that designation with the terms 'colored' and/or 'black'. Therefore, Mr. Obama, despite having one half white ancestry, was proclaimed as the "first black President."
Another fashionable thing to question now is whether Barack Obama was actually the 'first black President'; the conspiracy theorists who claim that George Washington was not the actual first President, claim that at least one of the 'prior' presidents was black.
The following is intended to identify as much of the facts as possible, and present them in a manner to quell and dispell the conspiracy theories regarding the presidency of the United States of America ~ prior to, and including, George Washington.
Every organization (whether social, industrial, commercial or political) normally is structured with a board of management and officers (or just one or the other). The officers of any organization tend to include a president (i.e. one who presides over the meetings and controls its activities and functions), a secretary (i.e. one who maintains a transcription of what occurs and/or is said during meetings) along with various other officers who perform a variety of specialized duties. The union formed between the provincial colonies during the 1770s was no different. The formal name for the organization that formed out of the colonists' attempt to work together in unison was: the Continental Congress. The Continental Congress was structured with officers, like any other organization: it had a president, a secretary and so forth. Also, the delegates from the thirteen English colonies who met in Philadelphia during the 1770s can be thought of as a 'board of management' for the colonies as a whole.
In the very beginning, the word Congress was not considered to be a noun in its own right. Rather, it was used consistently as part of the prepositional phrase: in congress assembled. The phrase modified the noun: delegates in a simple sentence "The delegates... (did something)". The prepositional phrase in congress assembled, when added to the sentence as a modifier of the noun, formed a phrase that can be found throughout the records of the organization that was formed: The delegates in congress assembled... (did or resolved something). In the latter part of the 1700s, the word "congress" referred simply to the meeting of people. According to An Universal Etymological English Dictionary, published in 1789, the definition of the word congress was simply: "a meeting or coming of people together." It was only later that the name of the situation of delegates meeting together evolved to become a noun , naming an entity, as in: "The Congress" or "The Continental Congress".
In a similar manner, the words: union and united referred simply to "the joining several things together; concord, agreement." Therefore, when the phrase united colonies was first used to describe the organization formed between the provincial colonies, it referred to the fact that the colonies were attempting to function together as one. The phrase, only later, became a pronoun, as in the title phrase "The United States."
What the foregoing points out was the difference between the action of meeting and joining together in unison (i.e. delegates in congress assembled and/or the united colonies) and a formal entity (i.e. The Continental Congress and/or The United States of America).
The history revisionists who make the claim that George Washington was not actually the first president of the United States of America, base their claim on the fact that the delegates assembled in congress, in what has become known as the Continental Congress, took on the structure of any other type of organization. The Continental Congress' meetings were presided over by individuals who bore the title of office: "President". The thirteen English colonies which had agreed, by a majority of their individual legislative bodies, to attempt to function together as a united entity, had agreed to be subject to whatever laws and other dictates that those delegates (in congress assembled) should resolve. Therefore, the history revisionists claim that since the colonies had agreed to function as a united entity, and since the delegates (in congress assembled) would function as the board of management of the united entity, therefore the "president" of the Continental Congress occupied that same leadership role throughout the thirteen participating English colonies.
The first President of the congress, which met between 05 September and 26 October 1774 (and which was known as the First Continental Congress), was Peyton Randolph of Virginia. On the 22nd of October, it was announced that Mr. Randolph could not continue in the office of President "on account of indisposition", and Henry Middleton, of South Carolina, was appointed to fill the vacant position. Middleton's 'presidency' was short-lived, though. The congress broke up just four days later.
The purpose of the First Continental Congress was basically to draft petitions to the King of England and letters of intent to the English colonies and to the citizens of England. Although it was believed, toward the end of October, that all had been done that needed to be, as the new year began, the need for additional actions became apparent. The Second Continental Congress convened on 10 May 1775 and met continuously until 01 March 1781. Peyton Randolph, having been desired to serve as the President of the First Continental Congress, and Henry Middleton succeeding to that position only upon the indisposition of Randolph, when the Second Continental Congress was convened, the choice for President again was Peyton Randolph. He served in that position for only two weeks, from 10 May 1775 until 24 May. At that time, Randolph received a request from his family to return to his home in Virginia; he had been chosen to preside over the Virginia House of Burgesses. He complied, and so the presidency was again vacant.
As before, Henry Middleton was asked to step into the vacant seat, but he declined this time. The Journals Of The Continental Congress stated simply that: "Whereuon on motion, the Honble John Hancock was unanimously chosen President." His term in that position, as the third individual, but fourth in line, lasted until 01 November 1777. Hancock was therefore serving as the President of the delegates in congress assembled in July 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was passed. On 31 October 1777, John Hancock presented a speech to the delegates assembled in congress in which he expressed the fact that he desired to vacate the position of President due to health reasons.
The fourth individual (but fifth in line) to be chosen as President of the delegates assembled in congress was Henry Laurens of South Carolina. Robert Morris had been approached to succeed Hancock, but he declined. Henry Laurens served in the position of President until 09 December 1778. On that date, Laurens presented various reasons as to why he could not continue to serve as President of the delegates in congress assembled, and resigned. He presented a letter to the body detailing an embarrassment of his involvement in the Silas Deane 'affair' (in which Deane had been accused of spying). The official reason given for Laurens' vacating the presidency was that he had been appointed as an ambassador to the Netherlands. In the spring of 1781, as Laurens was traveling across the Atlantic to Europe, he was taken prisoner. But instead of being treated simply as a prisoner of war, he was placed under close confinement in the Tower of London and treated as "a traitorous subject of the King of Great Britain".
John Jay followed Laurens as the fifth individual (but sixth in line) to occupy the position of President of the delegates in congress assembled. He served from 10 December 1778 until 27 September 1779 (during which time he also served as the Chief Justice of the New York Supreme Court). According to the entry in the Journals Of The Continental Congress for 27 September: "Congress having appointed the honarable John Jay Esq. their minister plenipotentiary to negotiate a treaty of amity and commerce and of alliance between the United States of America and his Catholic Majesty [Louis XVI] and he having signified his acceptance of that office, and, thereupon, resigned the chair."
The next man elected to the office of President of the delegates in congress assembled was Samuel Huntington of Connecticut. Huntington, the sixth individual (but seventh in line) served from 28 September 1779 until 06 July 1781. During Huntington's term in office as the President of the delegates in congress assembled, the Articles of Confederation were finally ratified. The last of the delegates to sign (and ratify) the Articles were those from Maryland, who did so on 01 March. With the ratification of the Articles of Confederation, effective on 01 March 1781, the Second Continental Congress was officially dissolved as of that date. The same delegates, though, would continue to meet as before, with Samuel Huntington as their President; only the name of their entity, and the relationship between the colonies (now states) that they represented, would change. The new accepted title of the body of delegates, when they met on the following day, 02 March 1781, was the Confederation Congress. According to the Journals Of The Continental Congress: "The ratification of the Articles of Confederation being yesterday compleated by the accession of the State of Maryland: The United States met in Congress, when the following members appeared: His excellency Samuel Huntington, delegate for Connecticut, President." A footnote for the day's entry stated: "'The United States in Congress Assembled' was put at the head of each page of the Journal, with occasional omissions, from this date until August 1st."
On the 6th of July, Samuel Huntington announced to the delegates in congress assembled that his ill state of health would not allow him to continue as their President, and that he desired to take a leave of absence. The 6th being a Friday, the delegates set the following Monday, the 9th, as the date to elect a new President.
On Monday, 09 July 1781, the delegates of the united states in congress assembled chose Samuel Johnston to serve as their President. But the following day, Johnston declined to accept the office, and so a new election took place. The new President, the seventh individual (but eighth in line) was Thomas McKean of Delaware. McKean had a primary residence in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but he also owned property in Delaware. Throughout his life he served both colonies; his participation in the Continental Congress was for the colony of Delaware. McKean served the Confederation Congress as its President until 05 November 1781. On 23 October, Mr. McKean asked that a letter, he had written to the Secretary, be laid before the delegates in which he stated: "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 Pensylvania, 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 to-day; I must therefore request that they will be pleased to proceed to the choice of another President." The delegates voted on, and passed a resolution that the election of a new President be held the following day. In their deliberations on 24 October, the congress resolved, 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" The first Monday in November fell on November 5, and on that date the members in attendance held another election for the office of President.
The eighth individual to be elected to serve as President of the delegates assembled in congress, who was actually the ninth in line, is the subject of the 'conspiracy theory' that claims that Barack Obama was not the first black "President." The individual elected to serve as the President of the Confederation Congress on 05 November 1781 was a delegate from Maryland: John Hanson . Hanson was the first of the congress' Presidents to serve in the position for a full year.
It needs to be remembered that the Articles of Confederation (the ratification of which had commenced in the various colonies in 1777) was finally ratified by the thirteenth colony on 01 March 1781. Samuel Huntington, serving on that date as the President of the delegates in congress assembled should be acknowledged by the history revisionists as the First President, but for whatever reason, he is not. Neither is Thomas McKean acknowledged as the First President. Instead, it is the third individual to be elected to preside over the Confederation Congress: John Hanson, who is claimed, by the history revisionists, to have been the First President. ~ And most of those history revisionists claim that this John Hanson was ethnically black. One of the history revisionist websites (listosaur.com/history), in its attempt to substantiate its claim that John Hanson was truly the First President, states that George Washington, himself, wrote a letter to Hanson congratulating him on his election to the position. That is entirely true ~ but not entirely accurate. On 30 November 1781, while at Philadelphia, George Washington wrote: "While I congratulate your Excellency on your Appointment to fill the most important Seat in the United States, ..." That letter provides the example for the entirely true part. But it should also be noted that on 09 October 1779 Washington sent a letter to Samuel Huntington, addressed to: The President of Congress. Two days prior, Washington sent a letter to the Secretary of Congress, Charles Thomson which stated: "I have been honored with yours of the 28th Ulto., informing me of the election of the Honble. Samuel Huntington Esq to the presidency of Congress..." In fact, George Washington congratulated and/or otherwise acknowledged several of the other "Presidents" via letters: Henry Laurens on 10 November 1777, John Jay on 18 December 1778, Thomas McKean on 21 July 1781, and Elias Boudinot on 04 December 1782. In all cases, General Washington addressed the individuals by the title Excellency. So what this all points to is that although the author of the webpage at listosaur.com was correct in stating that Washington congratulated John Hanson on being elected to the position of President of the congress, he simply did not check any further to discover if Washington had congratulated any of the other 'presidents' of the congress. It's a little thing called due diligence, that historians should practice just like any lawyer, attempting to prove a point, would.
A major history revisionist, who elevates John Hanson to just one step below sainthood, is the author of the webpage at marshallhall.org titled: John Hanson, American Patriot and First President of the United States. Referencing George Grant's article, The Forgotten Presidents, in the book: The Patriot's Handbook, the uncredited author of the webpage lists many wondrous achievements of John Hanson. The first situation that Hanson came to the rescue of was the Mutiny of the Pennsylvania Line. The marshallhall.org webpage noted that "All the members of Congress ran for their lives, leaving Hanson running the government. He somehow managed to calm the troops 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." What a bunch of bull---t. It was George Washington who dealt directly with the mutineers; John Hanson's name does not appear in any public record related to the mutiny. According to Mark M. Boatner, in his authoritative Encyclopedia Of The American Revolution, stated that: "Washington disagreed with Wayne's proposal thet Congress leave Philadelphia to keep away from the mutineers, but this point turned out to be academic since Congress had decided to stay." The only time that the members of Congress "ran for their lives" was after the Battle of Brandywine in September 1777. The threat of British troops was real, and so the Congress, on 23 September, adjourned with the intention of reconvening at Lancaster. When they arrived there, they found that the Pennsylvania legislative body had already arrived and took the most accomodating quarters. The delegates to the Continental Congress moved on to York, where it convened until 27 June 1778. John Hanson had nothing to do with the absence of the Congress from Philadelphia. The next bold claimwas that Hanson "ordered all foreign troops off American soil, as well as the removal of all foreign flags." Other than participating in votes along with the rest of the delegates to the Congress, Hanson's name does not appear in the "Journals Of The Continental Congress (which just happen to be verbatim transcriptions of everything spoken during the sessions). According to the website, Hanson "established the Great Seal of the United States". Beginning on 04 July 1776, a committee consisting of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, was chosen to create a design for a Great Seal. The second committee, consisting of James Lovell, John M. Scott and William C. Houston, was chosen on 25 March 1780. A third, and final, committee was chosen on 04 May 1782, consisting of John Rutledge, Arthur Middleton and Elias Boudinot. Neither of the three committees arrived at a satisfactory result, so on 13 June 1782 the delegates in congress asked Secretary Charles Thomson to take a stab at the design. He combined elements from the previous three committees and came up with the design that was ultimately chosen. John Hanson did not participate in any of the three committees, and whether he even discussed the project with anyone, including Charles Thomson is not unknown. The marshallhall.org website does not stop there. It then made the claim that Hanson "established the first Treasury Department, the first Secretary of War, and the first Foreign Affairs Department." Well, once more we find that the true story is a bit different from the "John Hanson singlehandedly created the United States of America government" theory. The Treasury Department was established in 1789. The Secretary of War was established by a resolution of the Congress on 07 February 1781, nine months prior to John Hanson being elected President of the delegates assembled in congress, by a committee consisting of James Duane, Thomas Burke, Thomas McKean and James Mitchell Varnum. The Foreign Affairs Department was created in 1789. The fact of the matter is that John Hanson's only valid claim to fame as the First President is based on the promotion of him as such by his own grandson. And the grand deeds and achievements that some history revisionists, such as the author of the webpages at marshallhall,org, have attributed to him can easily be exposed as bald-face lies.
History is always written by the victors. The most commonly accepted source of that quote was Winston Churchill, but regardless of who first said it, the statement is very accurate. Anyone, in any time, and in any part of the world, who is vanquished and subjugated by another, is seldom given the privilege of writing the history of the battle, let alone that of the whole war. And that is exactly what transpired in regard to African slavery in the United States of America. The history of the United States of America had been, up to and through the 1970s, written by white (i.e. caucasoid) historians. Whether right or wrong, it was simply a matter of fact that black (i.e. negroid), historians did not gain widespread acceptance until after racial equality became more accepted. The conspiracy theorists and history revisionists, especially black ones, would like to change history to reflect a more active role by blacks during the nation's historical periods (including the American Revolutionary War). And what would reflect a more active role by blacks than to be able to boast of a black president ~ even before Barack Obama?
During 19th Century, the "Back to Africa" movement was promoted by the American Colonization Society. Concerned about the continuing growth of slavery throughout the South, Charles Fenton Mercer founded the American Colonization Society in 1816. The group encouraged and helped free blacks to return to Africa. The response was such that by 1822, a colony had been established on the west coast of Africa; it gained its own independence as the African country of the Republic of Liberia on 26 July 1847. By the 1860s, nearly 13,000 black individuals had emigrated from the United States of America to the new African colony. The activities of the American Colonization Society reached a peak just prior to the Civil War and declined somewhat during the war; it revived again in the late-1870s, and once more peaked in the 1890s.
In the 1850s, a man served in the Liberian Senate from Grand Bassa County. His name was John Hanson ~ and, yes, he was black. And it was this John Hanson that contemporary history revisionists like to claim was the first black president of the United States of America. An image of Liberian Senator John Hanson, derived from a daguerreotype taken in 1856, is often included in essays about the first black president, as proof that the pre-Washington president was black. What the history revisionists fail to account for is how a daguerreotype of anyone from the American Revolutionary War period could exist when photography had not yet been invented. Oops! I guess the history revisionists failed to do their due diligence on that item.
With the American Revolutionary War winding down, beginning with the surrender of the largest British army at Yorktown on 17 October 1781, and continuing until the Treaty of Paris was signed on 03 September 1783 and the British garrison at New York City finally evacuated the city on 25 November 1783, the delegates meeting in congress began to take on a different role. Prior to the outbreak of hostilities in the American Revolutionary War, the purpose of Congress had been to draft petitions to the King of England, and appeal to the other colonies, in an attempt to divert actual bloodshed. During the War, the congress took on the role of management. Realizing that bloodshed could not be averted, the delegates meeting in congress dealt with raising an army and supplying that army with weapons and ammunition and food, clothing and housing while on the field. After the War was over, the role of the congress was to maintain unity between the recently liberated colonies and to promote a centralized governing body. A series of congressional sessions, each lasting either six months or a year, were begun on 01 March 1781. Known as Confederation Congresses, the First Confederation Congress was convened at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from 01 March to 03 November 1781. As noted above, Samuel Huntingdon served as President of the Confederation Congress.
The Second Confederation Congress was convened on 05 November 1781 at Philadephia, and continued until 02 November 1782. It was during this Second Confederation Congress that John Hanson, of Maryland, served as the President.
During the Third Confederation Congress, convened at Philadelphia from 04 November 1782 until 21 June 1783, and then continued at Princeton, New Jersey from 30 June 1783 until 01 November 1783, the ninth individual, but tenth in line, to serve as President of the congress was Elias Boudinot, of New Jersey.
The Fourth Confederation Congress lasted just two days ~ from 03 November to 04 November 1783 ~ at Princeton, New Jersey.
The Fifth Confederation Congress was convened at Annapolis, Maryland on 26 November 1783 and lasted until 03 June 1784. The President of the congress during the Fifth Confederation Congress, the tenth individual, but eleventh in line, was Thomas Mifflin, of Pennsylvania.
Thomas Mifflin maintained his position as President of the delegates assembled in congress when the Sixth Confederation Congress was convened on 01 November 1784, but resigned at the end of the month, on 30 November. During his presidency, Thomas Mifflin accepted General George Washington's resignation as commander-in-chief of the American Continental Line.
The eleventh individual, but twelfth in line, to serve as President of the congress was Richard Henry Lee, of Virginia, who served as President from 30 November 1784 to 23 November 1785. The Sixth Confederation Congress sat from 01 November to 24 December 1784 at Trenton, New Jersey, and reconvened on 11 January 1785 in New York City, New York, continuing there until 04 November 1785.
Richard Henry Lee was succeeded by John Hancock of Massachusetts, the thirteenth in line, as President of the Seventh Confederation Congress, which began on 07 November 1785 and lasted just under a year until 03 November 1786 at New York City. On paper, in the official records, it is stated that John Hancock occupied the position in his second term of office from 23 November 1785 until 29 May 1786 (remember, during 1775 to 1777, Hancock was the third individual, and fourth in line, as President). The fact of the matter was that John Hancock did not attend any of the sessions of the Seventh Confederation Congress. He claimed that his poor health prevented him from doing so. Instead, the duties of the president were handled by two individuals: Nathaniel Gorham and David Ramsay, who were credited as 'chairmen'.
The Eighth Confederation Congress was convened at New York City from 06 November 1786 to 30 October 1787. The first half of that session was presided over by the twelfth individual, but fourteenth in line: Nathaniel Gorham, of Massachusetts. It was during Gorham's term of office that the delegates from the thirteen states began to discuss dispensing with the Articles of Confederation, under which they had been operating to that point, instead replacing the Articles with a Constitution. To that end, a Constitutional Convention was held in Philadephia in the spring and summer of 1787.
The second half of the Eighth Confederation Congress was presided over by Arthur St. Clair, of Pennsylvania. St. Clair had served prominently as a General during the American Revolutionary War. As President of the Congress, St. Clair was the thirteenth individual, but fifteenth in line, from 02 February 1787 until 22 January 1788. During Arthur St. Clair's term of office, the Constitution was agreed upon and sent to the legislative bodies of the various states. The Northwest Ordinance was passed on 13 July 1787, and St. Clair was elected to serve as the new Northwest Territory's governor.
The last pre-Washington President was Cyrus Griffin, of Virginia, the fourteenth individual, but sixteenth in line, who was elected to serve from 22 January 1788 until 02 March 1789. The Ninth Confederation Congress was convened at New York City from 05 November 1787 until 21 October 1788. In June 1788, during Griffin's term in office as President of the Congress, the Constitution became ratified by enough states to have it declared the law of the land. Before his term in office expired, on 15 November 1788, Griffin resigned. It didn't make much difference, though, because only a few delegates were still interested enough to attend the session.
The Tenth Confederation Congress lasted just four months, from 03 November 1788 until 04 March 1789, at New York City. The schedule for the new Constitution to become operative set the date of 07 January 1789 for choosing 'electors' who would, in turn, choose the President of the United States of America. The electors would then vote for the President of the United States of America on 04 February 1789.
The Confederation Congress was dissolved on 04 March 1789, being superceded by the (bicameral) 1st United States Congress.
George Washington was elected to serve as the first President of the United States of America under the Constitution, and governed by the United States Congress. He took office on 30 April 1789.
The history revisionists want their followers to accept the theory that George Washington was not the first, but actually the seventeenth President of the United States of America. But the fact cannot be denied that the so-called presidents prior to George Washington were simply the presiding officers of the First and Second Continental Congresses and the ten sessions of the Confederation Congresses. A major point that the history revisionists fail to acknowledge is that the fourteen men who presided over the sessions of congress did not wield any actual executive power; they simply moderated the discussions and maintained order. The President of the United States of America seldom, if ever, serves as a presiding officer in a meeting; rather, he makes actual decisions and directs actions and others to take action. For the history revisionists to attempt to equate what the congressional Presidents did and what the national Presidents did/do is, as the saying goes: comparing apples to oranges. The only thing that each had in common was the title: President.
One wonders what the history revisionists will come up with next ~ possibly that George Washington was actually Georgina, the first woman President.