A Brief History of U.S. Presidents

Published: 27th November 2008
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There have been many Presidents of the United States since the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, but few people realize that the Presidential history also includes a series of Presidents who lead the Colonies long before the United States was founded as a free nation. Even though the colonies were controlled by King George III, the Congress which governed the colonies under the King was lead by a President. By the time July 2, 1776 rolled around and the Declaration of Independence was signed, the colonies had already had two Presidents, Peyton Randolph and Henry Middleton. John Hancock was President during the year the United States declared our Independence from Britain.



John Hancock, the First President of the United States



John Hancock was, for all intents and purposes, the first President of the confederacy from 1776 through 1781. John Hancock was one of the first true patriots who led the fight for independence from the crown. It is for good reason that his signature comes first on the Declaration of Independence. He led the revolution in Boston and fought against the crown ahead of all other patriots. King George wanted John's head from the very moment the Declaration was delivered to the King. Once the revolution was won, all members of the new congress finally signed their names to the Declaration of Independence in 1771, and all 13 states ratified the new Confederacy in 1781.



George Washington, a General and a Patriot



Once Lord Cornwallis surrendered in 1781, Thomas McKean became the elected President of Congress. From 1781 through 1789, Presidents John Hanson, Elias Boudinot, Thomas Mifflin, Richard Lee, John Hancock, Nathaniel Gorham, Arthur St. Clair, and Cyrus Griffin, all served terms. Finally, George Washington was elected in 1789. By all accounts, George Washington was the certainly the first President who brought the States together as a united country.



George Washington's life leading up to his presidency was interesting. He impressed people around him, not with great speaking ability or charisma, but with his good sense and patriotic views. He started his military career as a young man on the Frontier. He fought with French soldiers at the start of the French and Indian War. After bravely leading the British to safety after a battle in Virginia, Washington was promoted to command Virginia's military. After winning various battles and bringing peace to Ohio, at twenty-seven years old, he married Martha Dandridge Custis, and retired to a plantation on Mount Vernon. After farming for a number of years, in 1775 when he went from serving in the Continental Congress to once again commanding an army, but this time it was the Continental Army against the British in Boston.



After a number of crushing defeats before Washington's troops crossed the Delaware, Washington turned his troops around on Christmas night of 1776, in one of the greatest military operations in American history. On that night, Washington's troops crossed back over the Delaware and overpowered the garrison at Trenton, and subsequently overtook the garrison at Princeton as well. After gaining Cornwallis' surrender in Yorktown, the Revolutionary war was won. Once again, Washington retired to his plantation on Mount Vernon.



The First "United States" President



Washington watched public affairs with dismay, as the union was weakened with debts from the war, inability to collect revenue, and overall impotence of the Confederation Congress. Washington wrote to James Madison that Congress needed a powerful Constitution. In 1787, Washington went to Philadelphia to attend the convention set up to modify the Articles of Confederation. After the Constitution was approved, the first presidential election was held, and despite his desire to retire once again to Mount Vernon, he received a vote from every single voter. George Washington remains the only president in U.S. history who has been voted for president unanimously by the people.



Please visit ListofPresidents.net for a great list of resources about United States Presidents!

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