John Hanson was a Maryland senator and patriot who played a pivotal role in early United States politics.
Hanson was born to a landed family in Charles County, Maryland in 1715. Like many of the early American patriots, he was both an academic and a farmer. In 1757, Hanson began the first of his nine terms in the Maryland State senate.
The senator supported the American colonies' armed resistance against the British and, when the American Revolution was won, he was elected to the Continental Congress. In 1781, Hanson signed the Articles of Confederation, the document that established the first United States government. Hanson was instrumental in the acceptance of the Articles. As the representative from Maryland, he worked to convince larger states to give up their western land holdings, thereby leveling the playing field and making the Articles more appealing to smaller states.
As a result of his work, Hanson was chosen unanimously to become the first U.S. President under the Articles of Confederation. During his one-year term, he ordered all foreign troops off of U.S. soil, established the Treasury and Foreign Affairs departments, and declared the fourth Thursday of November to be a national holiday - Thanksgiving.
Hanson is not remembered as the first U.S. president because the Articles of Confederation proved to be flawed. They were dropped in favor of the United States Constitution in 1789. Hanson would not see this new system of government. He died in 1783 at the residence of his nephew in Maryland.
Issue Date: 1981