Forgotten Patriots
The Articles of Confederation

      Formally the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, was an agreement among all thirteen original states in the United States of America that served as its first constitution. Its drafting by a committee appointed by the Second Continental Congress began on July 12, 1776, and an approved version was sent to the states for ratification in late 1777. The formal ratification by all thirteen states was completed in early 1781. Government under the Articles was superseded by a new constitution and federal form of government in 1789. Even unratified, the Articles provided a system for the Continental Congress to direct the American Revolutionary War, conduct diplomacy with Europe and deal with territorial issues and Native American relations. Nevertheless, the weakness of the government created by the Articles became a matter of concern for key nationalists. On March 4, 1789, the general government under the Articles was replaced with the federal government under the United States Constitution. The new Constitution provided for a much stronger federal government with a chief executive (the President), courts, and taxing powers.

Quote
Aticles of Confederation and Perpeual Union between the States of New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, And Georgia
ARTICLE I. The style of the confederacy shall be "The UNITED STATES of AMERICA"
Unquote


      Under Article I the following men became the first eight presidents of the "United States of America" operating under th Articles of the Confederation. People that know me understand that not recognizing these men has been a thorn in my side and a terrible oversight of historian




      John Hanson (April 14, 1721 – November 15, 1783) was a merchant and public official from Maryland during the era of the American Revolution. In 1779, Hanson was elected as a delegate to the Continental Congress after serving in a variety of roles for the Patriot cause in Maryland. He signed the Articles of Confederation in 1781 after Maryland finally joined the other states in ratifying them. In November 1781, he was elected President of the Continental Congress, and became the first president to serve a one-year term under the provisions of the Articles of Confederation. While George Washington is recognized by historians as the first President of the United States, having served under the current United States Constitution, some biographies of Hanson have made the unconventional argument that Hanson was the first holder of the office.




      Elias Boudinot May 2, 1740 – October 24, 1821) was a lawyer and statesman from Elizabeth, New Jersey who was a delegate to the Continental Congress (more accurately referred to as the Congress of the Confederation) and served as President of Congress from 1782 to 1783. He was elected as a U.S. Congressman for New Jersey following the American Revolutionary War. He was appointed by President George Washington as Director of the United States Mint, serving from 1795 until 1805.








      Thomas Mifflin (January 10, 1744 – January 20, 1800) was an American merchant and politician from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was a major general in the Continental Army and the 1st and 3rd Quartermaster General during the American Revolution, a member of the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly, a Continental Congressman from Pennsylvania, President of the Continental Congress, and a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Several of these activities qualify him to be counted among the Founding Fathers. He served as Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, President of the Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council and the first Governor of Pennsylvania.






      Richard Henry Lee (January 20, 1732 – June 19, 1794) was an American statesman from Virginia best known for the motion in the Second Continental Congress calling for the colonies' independence from Great Britain. He was a signatory to the Articles of Confederation and his famous resolution of June 1776 led to the United States Declaration of Independence, which Lee signed. He also served a one-year term as the President of the Continental Congress, and was a United States Senator from Virginia from 1789 to 1792, serving during part of that time as the second President pro tempore of the upper house. He was a member of the Lee family, a historically influential family in Virginia politics.






      John Hancock (January 23, 1737 – October 8, 1793) was an American merchant, smuggler, statesman, and prominent Patriot of the American Revolution. He served as president of the Second Continental Congress and was the first and third Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He is remembered for his large and stylish signature on the United States Declaration of Independence, so much so that the term "John Hancock" has become, in the United States, a synonym for a signature. Before the American Revolution, Hancock was one of the wealthiest men in the Thirteen Colonies, having inherited a profitable mercantile business from his uncle, himself a prominent smuggler.[3] Hancock began his political career in Boston as a protégé of Samuel Adams, an influential local politician, though the two men later became estranged. As tensions between colonists and Great Britain increased in the 1760s, Hancock used his wealth to support the colonial cause. He became very popular in Massachusetts, especially after British officials seized his sloop Liberty in 1768 and charged him with smuggling. Although the charges against Hancock were eventually dropped, as Professor Peter Andreas, author of Smuggler Nation: How Illicit Trade Made America explains, "It is perhaps appropriate that the first signer of the Declaration of Independence was Boston's most well known merchant-smuggler, John Hancock." Hancock was one of Boston's leaders during the crisis that led to the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War in 1775. He served more than two years in the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, and as president of Congress, was the first to sign the Declaration of Independence. Hancock returned to Massachusetts and was elected governor of the Commonwealth, serving in that role for most of his remaining years. He used his influence to ensure that Massachusetts ratified the United States Constitution in 1788.




      Nathaniel Gorham (May 27, 1738 – June 11, 1796, his first name is sometimes spelled Nathanial) was a politician and merchant from Massachusetts. He was a delegate from Massachusetts to the Continental Congress, and for six months served as the presiding officer of that body. He also attended the Constitutional Convention and was one of the signers of the United States Constitution on September 17, 1787, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania







      Arthur St. Clair (March 23, 1737 – August 31, 1818) was an American soldier and politician. Born in Scotland, he served in the British Army during the French and Indian War before settling in Pennsylvania, where he held local office. During the American Revolutionary War, he rose to the rank of major general in the Continental Army, but lost his command after a controversial retreat from Fort Ticonderoga. After the war, he served as President of the Continental Congress, which during his term passed the Northwest Ordinance. He was then made governor of the Northwest Territory in 1788, and then the portion that would become Ohio in 1800. In 1791, St. Clair commanded the American forces in what was the United States's worst ever defeat against the American Indians. Politically out-of-step with the Jefferson administration, he was replaced as governor in 1802.




      Cyrus Griffin (July 16, 1749 – December 14, 1810) was a lawyer and judge who served as the last President of the Continental Congress, holding office from January 22, 1788, to November 2, 1788. He resigned after the ratification of the United States Constitution rendered the old Congress obsolete, and was later a United States federal judge.







The Constitution of the United States of America was radified on June 21, 1788 by the ninth state giving it the necessary number of states. Cyrus Griffin had resigned in January of 1788 and the United States operated without a president until February 4, 1789 when George Washington was elected president.
On this day in 1789, 69 members of Congress cast their ballots to elect George Washington the first president of the United States under the Constitution.
As the former leader of the Continental Army and chairman of the Continental Congress, Washington possessed the necessary credentials for the presidency, if not the enthusiasm. After months of appearing to sidestep, and even outright rejecting the idea of assuming the presidency, Washington reluctantly accepted Congress’ decision. Runner-up John Adams became Washington’s vice president.

Return to Main Page
Return to Archives