Were there presidents before George Washington?

Was John Hanson the first president or was it George Washington? I read in a book that John Hanson was actually the first president of the thirteen colonies while George Washington was fighting in the Revolutionary war. Please tell me who was the first president!

budgetanalyst gave this response on 8/5/2000:

John Hanson was president of the country formed under the Articles of Confederation. There is a short description of the issue at URL You can find the Articles at URL This country was called the United States of America, so Hanson was the first president.

George Washington was the first president under the Constitution of the United States, so he was the first president of the United States of America formed under the Constitution.

The main difference between the two is that the country formed under the Articles was not really a country in the sense that we think of a country today. The actual countries were the 13 former colonies, now states. The USA under the Articles was more like the United Nations is today, which most people will agree is not a country. So Washington was the first president of the real country called the United States of America. This is the reason why Hanson and his successors do not count.

A viewer asked this question on 8/28/2000:

Who is the President of the Article of Confederation?

npscott gave this response on 8/28/2000:

The 'President' under the Articles of Confederation was the man who held the office of President of the Continental Congress.

Under the Articles, the 13 states acted as if they were 13 independent nations, cooperating for common goals--not a single nation composed of 13 states.

There was no "President of the United States" under the Articles--no such office existed.

But, there was a presiding officer of the Continental Congress. His title was 'President'.

There were fourteen presiding officers.
The first was:

Peyton Randolph of Virginia (1723-1775)

You can read about each of the 14 Presiding Officers of the Continental Congress under the Articles of Confederation:

The Forgotten Presidents
By George Grant

To read the actual document, go to the Avalon Project of Yale University Law School, which has on-line most of the important political documents of our history.

brice10665 asked this question on 8/26/2000:

Who ran the country between 1776-1789?

stevehaddock gave this response on 8/28/2000:

During the Revolutionary War, America had no centralized government. George was pretty much on his own as the Continental Congress met infrequently due to the extreme danger of being associated with it (several of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were executed). Most work was done by the state legislatures who were supposed to raise money, material and men for the Revolutionary Army.

After the war, the Articles of Confederation were passed. This created a legislature which met in various places, but no executive. The legislature could pass national laws, but could not raise taxes. They had to get all of their funding from the states. Only states could raise taxes and they generally ran their own affairs - often into the ground. For example, the economy of Massachusetts got so bad and the tactics of rich creditors so egregious that the state passed a law forgiving all debts!

Eventually, the weakness of the federal government proved to be too much and the current Constitution with the power to tax the people directly and to prevent internal barriers to trade came into being.

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