It is generally accepted that George Washington was the first president of the United States of America. But is it really so?
A number of historians believe that John Hanson was technically the first president because he was elected President of the United States by Congress meeting on November 5, 1781. He was the first of seven presidents to have a term of office of one year. In fact, Hanson even introduced the victorious General Washington in Congress a few weeks after the end of the Revolutionary War. Is the formality associated with the terms of the presidency a reason for the expulsion of as many as eight people from the country’s history?
Washington became president in 1789 and faced eight more presidents: John Hanson, Elias Boudino, Thomas Mifflin, Robert Henry Lee, John Hancock, Nathan Gorman, Arthur St. Clair, and Cyrus Griffin. But unlike Washington, Hanson and the other seven presidents received little coverage. However, the personality of one Hanson was more than remarkable and, above all, as President of the United States.
Like George Washington, John “Swede” Hanson was a member of a wealthy family that was also located on the Potomac River. Hanson devoted himself to trade before becoming president. But he excelled in another … Hanson became an outstanding intelligence agent, agent “711”, acting on the side of the American revolutionaries in the Revolutionary War. Talent and initiative manifested itself in the future. In just one year of his presidential career, he created the Department of State, which was headed by Benjamin Franklin, the Treasury, the Department of Defense, the first post office, established the Great Seal of the United States, and also ordered the celebration of Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday in November.
It is strange that Washington’s diary is missing the period from November 5, 1781, Hanson’s election day, until the fall of 1784, when Richard Henry Lee was president. Hanson’s correspondence for this period is also missing. Some contemporaries and historians portray Hanson as an expressionless person about whom little is known, except that he was from an influential family and was a member of the Maryland congregation for 22 years. People who chose to forget about the history of one-year presidents of the United States also played into the hands of the fact that Hanson ended his term as president with a completely sick man, and a year later, on November 22, 1783, he fell ill and died. The place of his burial is unknown. A number of things strangely connect Hanson with fellow American patriot and revolutionary Benedict Arnold. Both Hanson and Arnold called to arms the first armed groups, which were later led by Washington. Arnold was one of the leading generals and, crucially, Washington’s rival. Later, he was involved in a conspiracy that led to his fall as a military leader and the need to flee to the British. Hanson, on the other hand, was the first President to be elected by Congress and is also clearly Washington’s political rival.
Thus, it is likely that the evil genius of Hanson’s subsequent obscurity is precisely George Washington, for whom the active president, who did so much in his short time and, in fact, shaped the contours of modern US government, posed a particular threat to his reputation.
Photo: Document establishing the Great Seal of the United States. George Washington is listed as Commander-in-Chief (fourth line of the main text) and John Hanson as President of the United States (second line from the bottom).