John Hanson was unanimously elected to be the first president of the United States under the Articles of Confederation in 1781. Hanson was chosen as president because of his active role in the American colonies' armed resistance against the British during the Revolutionary War.
Hanson was born in 1715 in Charles County, Md. During the earlier part of his life, Hanson spent his time studying and farming.
His political career began in 1757 when he was elected to the first of nine terms in the Maryland State Senate. After the American Revolution, Hanson was elected to the Continental Congress. And, in 1781 he signed the Articles of Confederation, which established the first United States government. It was after the signing of the Articles that Hanson began his one-year term as president.
During that time, Hanson ordered all foreign troops and flags off of American soil and declared the fourth Thursday of every November to be Thanksgiving Day. He also established the Treasury Department, the first Secretary of War, the first Foreign Affairs Department and the presidential seal that is still used today. Hanson's term ended on Nov. 3, 1782. He left the office in dismay over the inadequacy of the Articles of Confederation as a governing mechanism.
Hanson died the following year on Nov. 15.
Source: Marshall Hall Foundation Inc.'s website and Their Stamp on History, an educational website. Photograph reprinted through the courtesy of Jack D. Brown, book coordinator of A History Charles County Maryland, bicentennial edition.
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