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To: H-NET/OIEAHC Electronic Association in Early American Studies <H-OIEAHC@H-NET.MSU.EDU> X-Mailer: Microsoft Outlook Express 5.50.4133.2400 Delivered-to: H-OIEAHC@H-NET.MSU.EDU Original-recipient: rfc822;email@example.com Ms Mayer: I fully share your concern over misinterpretation/misinformation on the web. As to your question, this morning while reading on the streetcar on my way to work, I came across the following and offer it for your consideration: (From pages 107-108 in Richard B. Morris, _The Forging of the Union 1781-1789_ (Harper & Row, pbk, 1987)): "There has been a good deal of brouhaha about who was the _first_ president of the United States. Most vocal have been the supporters of the claim of John Hanson, of Mulberry Grove, Maryland, who held tenure during the year beginning in November 1781. The fact that Hanson was of Swedish origin made him stand out from most of the other incumbents of the congressional presidency. Except for John Jay, who boasted that he did not have a drop of English blood in his veins, the remaining twelve claimed British ancestry. But ethnicity, with due obeisance to the enthusiasm of Scandinavian-Americans, has little pertinence to the issue. It has been claimed that Hanson was the first president of the United States in Congress Assembled. But the claim is tenuous. Hanson was the first of the presidents of Congress to begin his presidential service at the start of the federal year provided by the Articles of Confederation, but he was not even the first president to serve under the newly adopted Articles of Confederation, since both Samuel Huntington of Connecticut and Thomas McKean of Delaware preceded him as presidents under the new government. Were the functioning of Congress under the new Articles to be the criterion, then a strong case could be made out for Huntington. But even stronger cases could be made out for Peyton Randolph of Virginia, the first president of both the First and Second Continental Congresses, or for John Hancock, the president of Congress when that body declared its independence. Considering the character of the office, its limitations in explicit powers and tenure, and the fact that most executive functions were assumed by the departmental secretaries created under the Confederation, it is clear that one is describing an incumbent who was but first among equals in the Congress, a far different position from the chief executive whose powers were enumerated by the Framers of the federal Constitution. If you ask any schoolchild who was the first President of the United States, he or she will answer, hopefully, George Washington. And it would be correct." Rob Cockerham US Mission (to the UN and other International Organizations) Obersteinergasse 11/1 A-1190 Vienna, Austria (+43 1) 31339.74.3523 firstname.lastname@example.org