John Hanson (1715-1783) is “The Revolutionary Era Black President” that seems to have been forgotten by many even though he held a verifiable position of power in world history, and owns a rightful place in the history of the United States of America despite numerous attempts to marginalize him and his role in American History and American politics which we will explore in detail in this news article.

John Hanson was a Moor, which according to Shakespeare’s definition means a member of the Muslim people and person of half Berber (i.e. black) and Arab birth who hails from Northwest Africa. The black or African definition of a Moor, who is indeed an African, is a black person or Berber that’s a Muslim. A perfect historical example of a Moor would be Othello as in Othello and Desdemona. The realization that John Hanson was indeed an African American by all standards should cause the intellectually curious to question whether or not President John Hanson’s race has played a role in him not being readily mentioned as the Revolutionary era president that served prior to the defeat of the British forces?

History itself tells us that George Washington himself certainly knew who John Hanson was as well as his racial make-up since they were both heroes of the American Revolution, and for very different reasons as demonstrated by the journalist Seymour Wemyss Smith in his 1932 biography of John Hanson. Seymour Wemyss Smith’s work pinpoints John Hanson’s role in the politics of the Revolution and George Washington’s role on the battlefield.

Both men have statues and John Hanson’s statue can be found in the Capitol of the United States of America.

Before John Hanson became the first president of the United States of America by way of Congressional vote, which also included George Washington, he was a merchant and a member of the Maryland State House where he served 9 terms from 1757-1773. He also served as Treasurer for Frederick County starting in 1775 and founded a gun-lock company in addition to helping to raise troops for the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. He was also elected as a delegate to the Continental Congress after serving in a number of roles for what was known at the time as the Patriot cause in Maryland. John Hanson also signed the Articles of Confederation in 1781 after Maryland finally joined the ratification after holding out since it feared that some states would gain too much power like Virginia and New York since they hadn’t yielded their western lands.    

John Hanson was later elected as the first President of the Continental Congress in November of 1781. The President of the Continental Congress is also known in American literature as the President of the United States in Congress assembled. This particular classification or wording as I learned in elementary school followed ratification of the Articles of Confederation, which is indeed why many of John Hanson’s biographers, and my Caucasian elementary school teacher, who is currently in her 80s, and who first told me that John Hanson was black, still assert that John Hanson was the first person to hold the office of the President of the United States.

When we look at the United States Constitution we can clearly see that it calls for a president to be named, however, when we also take a look at its predecessor “The Articles of Confederation” with an unbiased mind, we will also discover that this historical document also calls for a president with limited powers to lead the country, so we cannot ignore our American History which clearly shows that we had two primary leaders and presidents during the seminal period of our nation, and that they were both on the same side during the American Revolution.

A total of eight men were chosen to serve one year terms as president under the Articles of Confederation, and in November 1781 John Hanson became the very first President of the United States in Congress assembled under the Articles of Confederation, which again predates the U.S. Constitution and George Washington’s remarkable presidency from 1789 to 1797. The biggest difference between the Articles of Confederation and its 8 presidents and the U.S. Constitution that George Washington became president under, aside from the limited presidential powers under the Articles of Confederation and the absence of a Vice President to assume leadership, essentially comes down to the executive branch which did not exist under the Articles of Confederation.

While John Hanson was President of the United States in Congress assembled or President of the Congress from November 5, 1781 to November 4, 1782, he was able to accomplish more during his 1 year term in office under the first Constitution or under the (3/1/1781 Articles of Confederation) than we’ve seen a 4 year term president accomplish under the (9/17/1787 U.S. Constitution).

Under his one year term in office President John Hanson successfully removed all foreign troops and their flags from American soil, and he also gave orders to the military towards the end of the Revolutionary War (1775-1783). President Hanson also “Received” George Washington after the great American victory over British General Lord Cornwallis who by the way surrendered some 8,000 British soldiers and seamen to the much larger Franco-American forces that had effectively ended the Revolution during the grave turning Yorktown, Virginia battle that culminated on October 19, 1781 with the embarrassing surrender of Britain’s last hope for victory since General Cornwallis was essentially their last bullet.

As president John Hanson established the “Great Seal of the United States” and introduced us to the Treasury Department and to the first Secretary of War. He also signed all laws and official papers and regulations and letters that were related to his position as president. John Hanson also brought us the first Foreign Affairs Department and led the fight to ensure the statehood of the Western Territories that had been held beyond the Appalachian Mountains by some of the original 13 colonies that had been holdouts. President Hanson is also responsible for establishing Thanksgiving Day as the fourth Thursday in the month of November which we still honor to this very day.

President John Hanson died on November 22, 1783 and should be remembered as a great American hero and statesmen and as a man that served his country during some of the most troubling times in our history since we were fighting against a foreign enemy on our own soil, who quite frankly didn’t care if his opponent was a white George Washington or a black John Hanson, which is indeed what the great Americans that drafted the Articles of Confederation understood when they elected John Hanson as the first President.                 

Nathaniel Armstrong, Jr.

Cerritos, CA –