Presidents Before George Washington

6 Apr

When we think of George Washington. We think one of our forefathers. That would be correct. Another assumption often made is. He is our first president. Which in fact is not correct. He is the first president to be over the powers of the Constitution, but not the first American or United States President.

In fact we had many Presidents before GW. Some over the Articles of the confederation. Others labeled Presidents of congress. They are just as important and many times left out. A few of them were even authors and/or signers of the Constitution.

Our First President of Congress

President Randolph

Peyton Randolph- At the time of Peyton Randolph’s birth, the future United States of America was an assortmentof 13 separate colonies ruled from far away England. But, by the time of his election as president of the first Continental Congress in 1774, these colonies had begun to see themselves as one united nation that could rule itself independently. Randolph was an early patriot who pushed for independence and his contributions to the movement for American independence and democracy were significant and long-lasting.

Our Second President of Congress

Henry Middleton (1717-1784)Henry Middleton (1717 – June 13, 1784) was a plantation owner and public official from South Carolina. He was the second President of the Continental Congress from October 22, 1774, until Peyton Randolph was able to resume his duties briefly beginning on May 10, 1775. In 1774, Middleton was elected as a delegate from South Carolina to the First Continental Congress. During tenure as a member of the Congress, Middleton was not a supporter of immediate independence from Great Britain, himself remaining loyal to the crown. In October 1774, Middleton was elected as the President of Continental Congress, when previous president Peyton Randolph was forced to return to Virginia to take his position as Speaker of the Virginia House of Burgesses. Although Middleton’s term was only for a length of 4 days, a Petition of Congress to King George III, drafted by John Jay was approved, and sent to Great Britain during his term.Randolph was re-elected as president of the second congress in 1775 in which Middleton also served as a delegate until his resignation in 1776, citing ill-health. He was succeeded by his son, Arthur Middleton.

John Hancock President and Signer of the Constitution

John Hancock (1737-1793)– Seventh President of the United States in Congress Assembled November 23, 1785 to June 5, 1786        3rd President of the Continental Congress of the United Colonies of America.  The signature of John Hancock on the Declaration of Independence is the most flamboyant and easily recognizable of all. It is perhaps no surprise that the story of his part in the revolution is equally engaging. Few figures were more well known or more popular than John Hancock.

Henry Laurens (1724-1792)–  Henry Laurens was born in Charleston, South Carolina, in the year 1724. He took an early part in opposing the arbitrary claims of Great Britain, at the commencement of the American Revolution. When the provincial Congress of Carolina met in June, 1775, he was appointed its president; in which capacity he drew up a form of association, to be signed by all the friends of liberty, which indicated a most determined spirit. Being a member of the general Congress, after the resignation of Hancock, he was appointed president of that illustrious body in November, 1777.

John Jay (1745-1829)– He helped assure the approval of the Declaration of Independence (1776) in New York, where he was a member of the provincial Congress. The following year he helped draft New York’s first constitution and was elected the state’s first chief justice, and in 1778 he was chosen president of the Continental Congress. In 1782 he joined Benjamin Franklinin Paris to negotiate terms of peace with Britain. On his return from abroad, Jay found that Congress had elected him secretary for foreign affairs (178490). Convinced of the need for a stronger centralized government, he urged ratification of the U.S. Constitution.

Samuel Huntington (1732-1796)- He served two terms as President of the Congress during the important adoption of the Articles of Confederation. He was called home in 1784 when he was elected Lieutenant Governor if his state; an office that then included the duties of Chief judge of its Superior Court. In 1786 he was elected governor. He was very popular in the office and used his influence to develop roads and industry in the state. He was re-elected every term until his death 1796.

Thomas McKean (1734-1817)– ; a signer of the Declaration of Independence; member of the state house of representatives in 1776 and 1777 and served as speaker in the latter year; president of the state of Delaware in 1777; chief justice of Pennsylvania 1777-1799; served in the Revolutionary War; member of the convention of Pennsylvania which ratified the Constitution of the United States December 12, 1787; delegate to the state constitutional convention in 1789; Governor of Pennsylvania 1799-1808; died in Philadelphia, Pa., June 24, 1817; interment in Laurel Hill Cemetery.

John Hanson (1715-1783)–  John Hanson, American Patriot and First President of the United States

He was the heir of one of the greatest family traditions in the colonies and became the patriarch of a long line of American patriots – his great-grandfather died at Lutzen beside the great King Gustavus Aldophus of Sweden; his grandfather was one of the founders of New Sweden along the Delaware River in Maryland; one of his nephews was the military secretary to George Washington; another was a signer of the Declaration; still another was a signer of the Constitution; yet another was Governor of Maryland during the Revolution; and still another was a member of the first Congress; two sons were killed in action with the Continental Army; a grandson served as a member of Congress under the new Constitution; and another grandson was a Maryland Senator. Thus, even if Hanson had not served as President himself, he would have greatly contributed to the life of the nation through his ancestry and progeny.

Elias Boudinot (1741-1802)– a Delegate and a Representative from New Jersey; born in Philadelphia, Pa., May 2, 1740; received a classical education; studied law; was admitted to the bar in 1760 and commenced practice in Elizabethtown, N.J.; member of the board of trustees of Princeton College 1772-1821; member of the committee of safety in 1775; commissary general of prisoners in the Revolutionary Army 1776-1779; Member of the Continental Congress in 1778, 1781, 1782 and 1783, serving as President in 1782 and 1783, and signing the treaty of peace with England; resumed the practice of law; elected as a Pro-Administration candidate to the First, Second, and Third Congresses (March 4, 1789-March 3, 1795); was not a candidate for renomination in 1794 to the Fourth Congress; Director of the Mint from October 1795 to July 1805, when he resigned; elected first president of the American Bible Society, in 1816; died in Burlington, Burlington County, N.J., October 24, 1821; interment in St. Mary’s Protestant Episcopal Church Cemetery.

Thomas Mifflin (1744-1800)–  One of the most remarkable events of the United States history occurred under Mifflin’s Presidency the very next month. In November of 1783 the British finally evacuated New York and Congress made the momentous decision to place the Continental Army on a “Peace Footing “. It was in Annapolis, where the US Government convened that the last great act of the Revolutionary War occurred in 1783. George Washington was formally received by President Thomas Mifflin and Congress.  Instead of declaring himself King, resigned his commission as Commander-in-Chief to the President of the United States.

President Thomas Mifflin’s third month in office was equally eventful as he presided over another great US event. On January 14, 1784 Congress finally assembled enough States to ratify the Definitive Treaty of Peace , which half-ended the War with Great Britain (King George III did not ratify the treaty for Britain until April 9, 1784 which officially ending the War). On January 21st the following proclamation was published and appeared in the Pennsylvania Gazette:

Richard Henry Lee (1732-1794)– 

On June 7, 1776, he made his famous proposal to congress:

“that these United Colonies are,
and of right ought to be,
free and independent States.”

He made the first move toward independence from Great Britain. Some of the delegates were still a little queasy about declaring independence from Great Britain: it was one of the most powerful countries at that time. The colonists didn’t think they could win a war against such a powerful country, so the congressmen decided to write a document declaring their independence from Britain. The document had to state reasons why they wanted to be independent. They choose five people to write this paper: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston. Thomas Jefferson wrote most of the declaration. On July 1, 1776, there was a big debate in congress. Nine colonies voted for independence. South Carolina and Pennsylvania were against independence. Delaware’s delegates were stuck in a tie. On July 4, 1776, Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence. Both Richard Henry Lee and his brother, Francis Lightfoot Lee, signed the Declaration.

In 1783, Richard Henry Lee was elected President of Congress. He opposed the federal constitution, because he favored the rights of states. He was also elected the first state Senator for Virginia. Later on, he returned home due to illness, and soon after died at the age of sixty-three in 1795.


Nathaniel Gorham (1738-1796)–  Mr. Gorham was chosen representative for Charlestown, in 1771,and every year till the commencement of the Revolutionary war. He was a very assiduous attendant on the house of representatives, and was a leader in all their debates. In 1779 he was elected a delegate of the convention which formed the constitution of his native State. In 1784 he was chosen a member of the Congress of the United States, and soon after elected president of that honorable body.
In 1787, Mr. Gorham was a member of the grand convention which formed the federal constitution. In this august body, he sustained a high reputation for his knowledge and integrity. He stood high with all parties for his wisdom and prudence, and eloquence in debate. He was on this account one of the most influential members of the State convention, which adopted the constitution. He died, June 11, 1796, at the age of fifty-eight year

Arthur St. Clair (1734-1818)– In 1785, Pennsylvania elected St. Clair to represent the state in the Confederation Congress. He served as the president of the Confederation Congress in 1787, his last year in office. That same year, the Confederation Congress appointed St. Clair to be the first governor of the Northwest Territory. He remained in this position until 1802. One of St. Clair’s most trying problems as governor was dealing with Native Americans who believed that they were the rightful owners of the land. In 1789, St. Clair convinced at least some of the natives to sign the Treaty of Fort Harmar.

Cyrus Griffin (1736-1796)– Upon achieving quorum, he was elected the President of Congress; served during the period when American politics were dominated by the struggle over the new Constitution between Federalists and Anti-Federalists; presided the sessions until 1 Nov 1788; was re-elected to the Continental Congress on 31 Oct 1788, but because of the organization of the new government, the Continental Congress never transacted any business in 1788-1789; chosen a member of Virginia’s Council of State (27 Dec 1788); briefly served as president of the supreme court of admiralty (1789) and then received an appointment as commissioner to the Creek Nation for negotiating a peace treaty to end the war with the Creeks (1786-1790); returned to Virginia and for more than 20 years held the office of the judge of the U.S. District Court of Virginia (10 Feb 1790 – 14 Dec 1810).

Based on the information available on this wonderful world of web. I have learned that there were many Gentlemen before George Washington to hold the office of or equal to President of the United States. Great men who have helped mold and shape the country we know and love today. Take a look at these men use them in papers and reports. Turn in some forgotten history. Maybe surprise a teacher. Spark a conversation that may engage others. So that they can to learn about our great history. Then open the door to discuss more unpopular stories and ideas.

Freedom Writer

NoBullBlogger

No Bull Sh*t Here


2 Responses to “Presidents Before George Washington”

  1. felicita3 April 7, 2012 at 2:24 PM #

    I had never realized that! Great information

    • nobullblogger April 7, 2012 at 2:38 PM #

      Thank you for taking a look at the blog. Please have a look around. If you found that interesting there is plenty more. Also thank you for taking the time to comment.

      Freedom Writer
      NoBullBlogger
      No Bull Sh*t Here

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