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X-Sender: email@example.com To: H-NET/OIEAHC Electronic Association in Early American Studies <H-OIEAHC@H-NET.MSU.EDU> Delivered-to: H-OIEAHC@H-NET.MSU.EDU Original-recipient: rfc822;firstname.lastname@example.org I've just run into a rather troubling historical and educational situation. A friend of mine, who is a librarian, was asked by a client for some help in answering a question posed by the teacher of his child (and no, this is not about the issue of a parent doing a child's homework). The question was: "Who was the first president of the United States." The supposition was that an answer of George Washington would be incorrect. I responded that the first president of the US, under a US defined and governed by the Constitution, was indeed George Washington. Then I continued and said that perhaps the teacher was referring to presidents of the Continental Congresses, but that would not be a correct answer for various reasons; nor would such a reference work for the presidents of the Confederation Congresses, for they were presidents of the congress, not of the United States. My friend gave that answer to the client and then passed on to me what his child's teacher gave as the correct response. The teacher, apparently using a website for his/her source of information, said that John Hanson was the first president of the United States. The website is http://www.marshallhall.org/hanson.html According to that website, with the signing of the Articles of Confederation "a President was needed to run the country. John Hanson was chosen unanimously by Congress. . ." "His actions in office would set precedent for all future Presidents. He took office just as the Revolutionary War ended. Almost immediately, the troops demanded to be paid. As would be expected after any long war, there were no funds to meet the salaries. As a result, the soldiers threatened to overthrow the new government and put Washington on the throne as a monarch. All the members of Congress ran for their lives, leaving Hanson running the government. He somehow managed to calm the troops and hold the country together. If he had failed, the government would have fallen almost immediately and everyone would have been bowing to King Washington." The essay went on to say that Hanson, as President, ordered all foreign troops off American soil, that he established the Great Seal of the United States, the Treasury Department, the "Foreign Affairs Department," and the first secretary of war. Furthermore, he declared the fourth Thursday of every November to be Thanksgiving Day. The web essay concluded by giving credit to Washington as the first President of the US under the Constitution, but said that there had been seven presidents (Hanson being the first) before him. I certainly applaud a teacher trying to teach children about US government before the Constitution, but what are we to do about this kind of misinterpretation/misinformation? Can we only warn people, yet again, not to embrace everything found on the web? Or does this bring us back again to the issue of teaching standards? I would appreciate recommendations on what the readers here believe to be the best/current works about the Confederation Congresses and John Hanson that I could pass on to my friend and her client. Holly Mayer Duquesne University