Who Was Really Our First President? A Lost Hero

From 1781 to 1782 he was “President of the United States in Congress Assembled” under the Articles of Confederation. As the presiding officer of Congress, Hanson was responsible for initiating a number of programs that helped America gain a world position.
John Hanson Statue on the website The Architect of the Capitol, a link from the EDSITEment resource CongressLink

At the time the Founders were shaping the future of a new country, John Adams suggested the President should be addressed as “His Excellency.” Happily, others recognized that such a title was inappropriate. Though the proper form of address represents only a small detail, defining everything about the Presidency was central to the idea of America that was a work-in-progress when the nation was young.

In this lesson, students look at the role of President as defined in the Articles of Confederation and consider the precedent-setting accomplishments of John Hanson, the first full-term “President of the United States in Congress Assembled.”

Guiding Questions

How was the role of “President” defined in the Articles of Confederation?

What important developments occurred during John Hanson's term as the first full-term “President of the United States in Congress Assembled”?

 

How did they affect the future of the U.S. and the office of the President?

Learning Objectives

Describe the role of “President of the United States in Congress Assembled” under the Articles of Confederation and explain how the President was elected.

Describe some of the actions of John Hanson in his role as “President of the United States in Congress Assembled.”

 

List some of the problems and accomplishments that occurred under the Articles of Confederation.