John Hanson was in many ways the first acting President as he was extremely involved in getting our country off the ground and he was elected the first president of the Continental Congress.
John’s grandfather came from England in 1661 and settled in Maryland. He was an indentured servant when he arrived but two generations later the family owned a plantation with 1,000 acres. John’s father got into politics and he followed suit; filling various offices in Maryland’s General Assembly along with becoming a professional surveyor which was a powerful occupation back then because every line drawn meant more money for one person or the other. He also took on the role of sheriff at one point in his career. He got married in 1774 and had eight children.
His greatest accomplishment happened right after the war and helped saved our new nation because we were in dire straits financially. Investors, soldiers, and suppliers were owed money because of the war. There was uproar over this, and a lot of soldiers were planning on going back to their colonies and work against any efforts to bring the colonies together. Hanson worked out deals that brought everyone together.
He also had to manage getting British loyalists and troops back to Europe which of course was a major and sensitive undertaking. Lastly, it was a significant problem in working out the details as to powers and responsibilities of the Federal government versus State governments. This is what took so long to get hammered out and exploded into the Civil War in 1861 as southern states felt the Union no longer respected their rights.
I wrote this post as a reminder to us that there are so many amazing people in history who we know little to nothing about. George Washington was our first elected President, but it took years to get our country to a point after our Declaration of Independence where we became a sovereign nation; a true Republic. People like John Hanson get lost in the history books, so I wanted to introduce everyone to this hero who deserves a tremendous amount of gratitude and respect.