Wednesday, September 26, 2012

President John Hanson

John Hanson
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Third President of the United States
in Congress Assembled
November 5, 1781 to November 4, 1782

Copyright © Stan Klos, President Who? Forgotten Founders 2004 & 2008 

John Hanson of Maryland was the third President United States in Congress Assembled President (USCA President), serving from November 5, 1781—November 4, 1782 at Pennsylvania State House (Independence Hall) in Philadelphia. He was born in Charles County, Maryland. There is debate about both his birth date (some say 1715, others 1721) and his ancestry, with some claiming descent from Swedish Royalty and others that he was a Moor (neither is correct). Hanson became sheriff of Charles County in 1750. Elected to the Maryland House of Delegates, he served nearly every year from 1757 until 1781. After leaving the House of Delegates in 1769, Hanson moved to Frederick County and became its treasurer in 1775 and a delegate to the Maryland Convention. He chaired the 1776 Frederick County meeting that recommended to Maryland’s leaders that they authorize their delegates serving in the Second Continental Congress to declare independence from Great Britain.

In 1777, Hanson returned to Maryland’s new House of Delegates in Annapolis, who sent him to Congress as a delegate in 1780. At that time, Maryland, which did not have any western land claims, was waiting for the other states to abandon theirs in the West before ratifying the Articles of Confederation. Once that happened, Maryland agreed to ratify the Articles and on March 1, 1781, John Hanson and Daniel Carroll signed them. On November 5, 1781 John Hanson became the first USCA President elected to the full one-year term as mandated under the Articles of Confederation. During Hanson’s presidency, George Washington presented General Cornwallis’s sword to Congress, a Presidential Day of Fasting Proclamation was issued, Congress shifted presidential communication duties to the USCA Secretary, legislation was passed to create a United States Mint, there was a reorganization of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Congress adopted the current United States Great Seal, a Congressional recommendation of  Robert Aitken’s edition of the Bible to the inhabitants of the United States, and  the acknowledgement of United States by both Great Britain and the Dutch governments.      

John Hanson died at Oxon Hill, Maryland on November 22, 1783. His crypt and its remains were razed by developers building the National Harbor. Today, his coffin’s location is unknown.

Students and Teachers of US History this is a video of Stanley and Christopher Klos presenting America's Four United Republics Curriculum at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. The December 2015 video was an impromptu capture by a member of the audience of Penn students, professors and guests that numbered about 200.

Presidents of the United States in Congress Assembled
March 1, 1781 to March 3, 1789

March 1, 1781
July 6, 1781
July 9, 1781
Declined Office
July 10, 1781
November 4, 1781
November 5, 1781
November 3, 1782
November 4, 1782
November 2, 1783
November 3, 1783
June 3, 1784
November 30, 1784
November 22, 1785
November 23, 1785
June 5, 1786
June 6, 1786
February 1, 1787
February 2, 1787
January 21, 1788
January 22, 1788
January 21, 1789

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Elizabeth "Betty" Harrison Randolph (1745-1783)
09/05/74 – 10/22/74
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Elizabeth "Betty" Harrison Randolph (1745–1783)
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Phoebe Bayard St. Clair (1743-1818)
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Christina Stuart Griffin (1751-1807)
01/22/88 - 01/29/89

John Hanson of Maryland was elected the third President of the United States, in Congress Assembled on November 5, 1781 serving until November 3, 1782. He was not the first President of the United States nor the United States in Congress Assembled. 

John Hanson was born in Mulberry Grove, near Port Tobacco in Charles County, Maryland on April 3, 1721 before the British Empire adopted the Gregorian calendar which now adjusts the date to April 14, 1721 (See Dr. Edward Papenfuse's  Hanson Biography).  Hanson's parents were Samuel (1685-1740) and Elizabeth Story Hanson (ca. 1688-1764).  Samuel Hanson was a farmer who owned more than 1,000 acres and held a variety of political offices, including serving two terms in the Maryland General Assembly. There is much debate about John Hanson's ancestry with camps claiming he was descended from Swedish Royalty[1] while the other group claiming he was a blackMoor.  Neither of the assertions have merit.[2]  

John Hanson received a common colonial education and pursued, along with his family, agriculture. Hanson was married to Jane Contee in 1743, a French Huguenot from Rochelle Maryland.  Her family immigrated, first to England, during the reign of Louis XIV before settling in the Maryland colony.  Together, they had eight children with three sons, Alexander Contee Hanson,[3] Peter Contee Hanson,[4] and Samuel Contee Hanson[5] who would serve as officers in the Continental Army. 

The first record of a political John Hanson occurred in 1750 as sheriff of Charles County serving until 1753. In 1757 he was elected for his first one year term in the Maryland Assembly.[6]  Hanson would remain a member of the assembly for nine terms.  His political involvement in the revolutionary movement can be traced back to the 1765 Stamp Act.  It was Hanson who chaired the committee that drafted the instructions for Maryland's delegates to the Stamp Act Congress. Hanson was also a leader in the Association of Maryland Freeman that was formed in protest of the Townshend Acts. Hanson was a signer of the 1769 nonimportation resolution that boycotted British goods until the Townshend Acts were repealed on April 12, 1770. 

In 1769, John Hanson resigned his seat from the Maryland Assembly at the beginning of the second session because he received the appointment of Deputy Surveyor of Frederick County which, at the time included all of Western Maryland.  The post required the sale of his Charles County farm and the relocation of his family to Frederick Town on 108 W. Patrick Street.

Founded in 1745, Frederick was on the frontier of the Maryland Wilderness and flourished in the colony's expansion becoming a major communication route for western settlers. As Deputy Surveyor, Hanson was responsible for surveying all colonial land transfers in Western Maryland before a land patent was issued.  This proved to be a very active post for the 48 year old who was constantly surveying parcels in Maryland’s wilderness where settlement was just beginning to take place.

In 1772, a Dr. Philip Thomas[7] built a house at 110 W. Patrick St. next door to the Hanson family.  A year later, Thomas married Hanson's oldest daughter, Jane.  This began a lifelong friendship between the two men that included voluminous correspondence and business partnerships.  Hanson, an avid farmer, also held numerous positions in Frederick County, including the Chairman of the Committee of Observation[8] and Frederick County Treasurer.[9]

On July 25, 1775 the Association of Maryland Freeman, in support of Britain’s impressment of Massachusetts and other sister colonies, issued the following declaration with John Hanson being one of the signatories:


The long premeditated, and now avowed design of the British Government, to raise a revenue from the property of the colonists without their consent, on the gift, grant and disposition of the Commons of Great Britain; the arbitrary and vindictive statutes passed under color of punishing a riot, to subdue by Military force, and by famine, the Massachusetts Bay; the unlimited power assumed by parliament to alter the charter of that province, and the constitution of all the colonies, thereby destroying the essential securities of the lives, liberties and properties of the colonists; the commencement of hostilities by the ministerial forces, and the cruel prosecution of the War against the people of the Massachusetts Bay, followed by General Gage's proclamation, declaring almost the whole of the Inhabitants of the united colonies, by name or description, rebels and traitors are sufficient causes to arm a free people in defence of their liberty, and to justify resistance, no longer dictated by prudence merely, but by necessity, and leave no alternative but base submission or manly opposition to uncontroulable tyranny. The Congress chose the latter, and for the express purpose of securing and defending the united colonies, and preserving them in safety, against all attempts to carry the above-mentioned acts into execution by force of arms.

Resolved, that the said colonies be immediately put into a state of defense, and now supports, at the joint expence, an army to restrain the further violence, and repel the future attacks of a disappointed and exasperated enemy.

We therefore inhabitants of the Province of Maryland, firmly persuaded that it is necessary and justifiable to repel force by force, do approve of the opposition by Arms to the British troops, employed to enforce obedience to the late acts and statutes of the British parliament, for raising a revenue in America, and altering and changing the charter and constitution of the Massachusetts Bay, and for destroying the essential securities for the lives, liberties and properties of the subjects in the united colonies. And we do unite and associate, as one band, and firmly and solemnly engage and pledge ourselves to each other, and to America, that we will to the utmost of our power, promote and support the present opposition, carrying on, as well by Arms, as by the continental association, restraining our commerce.

And as in these times of public danger, and until a reconciliation with Great Britain, on constitutional principles is effected (an event we most ardently wish may soon take place) the energy of government may be greatly impaired, so that even zeal unrestrained, may be productive of anarchy and confusion; We do in like manner unite, associate, and solemly engage in maintenance of good order, and the public peace, to support the civil power in the due execution of the laws, so far as may be consistent with the present plan of opposition; and to defend with our utmost power all persons from every species of outrage to themselves or their property, and to prevent any punishment, from being inflicted on any offenders, other than such, as shall be adjudged by the civil magistrate, continental congress, our convention, council of safety, or committees of observation.

In 1775, Fredrick County Treasurer Hanson was elected a member to the Maryland Provincial Convention.[10] A year earlier the convention had established the Maryland Committee of Correspondence which was instrumental in calling and forming the First Continental Congress.

X. Resolved, That Matthew Tilghman, Thomas Johnson, jun., Robert Goldsborough, WilliamPaca, and Samuel Chase, Esqrs., or any two or more of them, be deputies for this province, to attend a general congress of deputies from the colonies, at such time and place as may be agreed on to effect one general plan of conduct, operating on the commercial connection of the colonies with the mother country, for the relief of Boston and preservation of American liberty; and that the deputies for this province immediately correspond with Virginia and Pennsylvania, and through them with the other colonies, to obtain a meeting of the general congress, and to communicate, as the opinion of this committee, that the twentieth day of September next will be the most convenient time, and the city of Philadelphia the most convenient place, for a meeting, which time and place, to prevent delay, they are directed to propose.[11]

At Annapolis Hanson fearlessly joined in the overthrow of the Maryland colonial rĂ©gime and voted to place the government into the control of the provincial convention. Hanson was commissioned by the Maryland Provincial Convention to establish a gun-lock factory at Frederick in 1775.  In this position he organized and oversaw Frederick’s manufacture of arms, gun locks, gunpowder, ammunition and other army munitions equipment for the Continental Army. 

National Collegiate Honor’s Council Partners in the Park Class of 2017 Students at the 2nd Bank of the United States under the portrait of USCA President Samuel Huntington. Sydney is holding-up a Revolutionary War–dated manuscript document signed as President of the Continental Congress, “Sam. Huntington,” May 16, 1780. This is a $6,000 pay order issued to Joseph Borden, commissioner of the Continental Loan Office of New Jersey for clothing. Chris is holding-up a document signed by James Lawrence, and cancelled by Oliver Ellsworth, Jr. for monies owed by the State of Connecticut to Huntington for his service as a delegate to congress and the nation. The note is dated March 11, 1781, which was the 11th day of the Huntington’s service as the first USCA President under the Articles of Confederation. On the verso is of this document is written "Number 1424 Certificate, Saml Huntington Dat 1 Feby, 1781, £ 11-9-4" with a second signature “Saml Huntington.” President Samuel Huntington was the first President to serve under the Articles of Confederation, not John Hanson. – For more information visit our National Park and NCHC Partners in the Park Class of 2017 website
In 1776 Hanson was commissioned a Frederick County Loan Officer to receive subscriptions for lending of money to the Continental Congress and the State of Maryland.   In October 1776, Hanson joined a committee empowered to call on the Maryland Troops in New Jersey, "with power to appoint officers and to encourage the re-enlistment of the Maryland militia" as General Washington's military losses in New York and New Jersey were substantial and troop desertion was pervasive.  In 1778 he was called on again by an Act of Frederick County to “Procure Troops for the American Army.” 

In November of 1778, Hanson was elected to the Maryland State Assembly and took a strong stance against Maryland ratifying the Articles of Confederation.  As the former surveyor of Maryland’s western lands, his fellow delegates took notice of his insistence that all Great Britain ceded western lands must be released to the newly proposed United States in Congress Assembled (USCA) federal government before Maryland would agree to the Articles of Confederation.  On December 21, 1779, in recognition for his work in the revolutionary cause, John Hanson was elected a Delegate to the U.S. Continental Congress. 

Articles of Confederation Engrossed Copy

Hanson, due to family business challenges and illness was unable to attend the Continental Congress until June 1780.  In the summer of 1780, the freshman delegate wrote Charles Carroll of Carrollton, Maryland Signer of the Declaration of Independence, about pressing congressional matters and General Gates’ defeat at Camden:

I have been confined to my Room a fortnight, and was so unwell when the last post set out, that I was not able to Write, I am now on the recovery, and hope to be able to attend Congress in a day or two. … Congress received a letter by Express from General Gates dated Hillsborough August 20th giving an Account (tho' a very Confused one) of His unfortunate Defeat near Camden, on the 16th. He says he marched about 10 o’clock in the night of the 15th, to possess himself of an advantageous piece of Ground about Seven miles from Camden. About 2 o’clock in the Morning His light Horse was attacked by those of the Enemies but were repulsed. Upon this he halted the Army and nothing more hap­pened till about break of Day, When he was attacked by the Whole fury of the Enemy. His Army was drawn up with the Virginia Militia on the left, the North Carolina militia in the Center and General Gist on the right.  General Smallwood was in the rear, as a Corps De' reserve. The Militia to a man fled the first fire, and left our brave regu­lars to Sustain the Whole force of the Enemy. General Gates went off with the Militia, endeavoring to rally them, but to no purpose, and while he was thus engaged. He Says the firing between the two Armies Ceased, by which he Concluded all was over, and therefore made the best of his Way to Hillsborough Where he arrived the 19th performing a Journey of 196 miles in less than four days. He Knows nothing of what became of the Regulars, but says he should immediately Send off a flag to gain the necessary information.

Saturday last an Express Arrived from Governor Nash dated the 26th Advising that Generals Smallwood, And Gist, had bravely Cut their Way thro' the Enemy With about 400 men-that the Militia were again Collecting, that they had got together between two and three thousand, regulars included. This day another letter has been received from General Gates with a list of the Officers that are Safe to Wit Generals Smallwood and Gist, Colonels Williams, Gunby and about 700 privates. The list also contains the Names of those officers that are missing, but I have not Seen it, neither Can I procure a Copy to Send you by this Opportunity. Baron de Calmb is Dead of His wounds. Our loss on the Whole about 500 and that of the Enemy as many. We have also lost all our Baggage Wagons and Eight pieces of Cannon.

Our main Army is in the greatest distress for want of provisions Were Without meat from the 21st to the 26th and Some have not had one day With another not one third allowance. The general moved into the neighborhood of Fort Lee with a View of Stripping that part of the Country of the remainder of its Cattle Which after a most rigorous exertion afforded only two or three days’ supply and this Consisting of milch Cows and Calves of one or two years old. This manner of procuring is very distressing and attended With ruin to the morals and discipline of the Army, during the five days Which small parties were Sent out to procure provisions for themselves, the most enor­mous excesses were Committed. It has been no inconsiderable Support to our Cause to have had it in our power to Contrast the Conduct of our Army With that of the Enemy, and to convince the Inhabitants, that While their rights were Wantonly Violated by the British Troops, by ours they were respected. This distinction must now unhappily Cease, and we must assume the Odious Character of the plunderers instead of the protectors of the people, the direct Consequence of Which must be to Alienate their minds from the Army, and insensibly from the Cause-in short, if this method of procuring provisions for the Army is not very speedily prevented, by an exer­tion of the States in Sending forward Supplies the Army must disband, and we are undone. It is reported and Credited by many that a french fleet of 18 Ships of the line and some frigates are on the Coast. They were Seen it is Said Some days ago to the Northward of our Capes. Our new raised Battalion is ordered by the general to the Southward.[12]

Delegate Hanson had come to Congress during one of the most challenging periods of the revolution. The southern ports of Savannah and Charleston were captured and controlled by the British, Benedict Arnold had defected, General Gates the hero of Saratoga was routed in Camden and Washington's troops were in mutiny.  Times were dark.  Hanson’s view on this was that these United States were merely pawns of European economics. Hanson believed that "The great neutral powers of Europe seem to regard the present War, as an event favorable to the augmentation of their Commerce". In a December 11th letter, Hanson requested Charles Carroll of Carrollton to join him in the Continental Congress to address this and other political challenges. Hanson writes:

Your favour by the last post, I am much obliged to you for. I am very Sorry to be informed, that the principal object of the meeting of the General Assembly has not yet been taken into Consideration, I mean that of procuring Men and Supplies for the Army; yet from the good Opinion I entertain of the present leading Members of each House, I flatter myself everything of importance Will be Attended to, before you rise. The Trustees having protested our Bills Will be favorable to the Views of those who are for Confiscation.

Immediately on the receipt of your letter, Which was late this afternoon, I went to Mr. Morris's to make the enquiry you desired me, but Mr. Morris was too ill to be Spoke With, Which prevents my giving you the information you Want, at present.

Advices from Spain and France of the 25th September, and 15th October say, that General Clinton had requested to be recalled, unless a reinforcement of 10,000 men, was immediately Sent him-that a vessel had Sailed from England, With dispatches Containing assurances, that the King entirely Approved of His Conduct-that he Should be Aided With all the Supplies in their power, And that orders were given for raising Nine regiments of foot, And one of Horse, to be Sent out Early in the spring. That nine Sail of the line and a number of Transports, With 4000 Troops, would Sail from Brest in a day or two, destined to reinforce Admiral Ternay. The King of Spain is much pleased With the Resolution of Congress, permitting the Exportation of flour for the use of His fleets and Armies, in the West Indies, and desired that his thanks might be Conveyed to Congress, for Such a proof of their friendly disposition, And the Minister gave the strongest Assurances, that his majesty Would never Consent to a pacification With England which did not include the Interest of America.

Measures for Sending Commissioners from G B to treat with Congress, is under Consideration of the Privy Council, And it is thought would be adopted. Mr. Cumbaland Still remains at Madrid-the Abbe Hussey, his Coadjutor has received A Passport to go to Lisbon, and from thence to London, and return With the Ultimatum of that Court. (Is it not something mysterious that a Secretary to Lord George Germain one of the King of G B Ministers Should be permitted to reside at the Court of His most Christian Majesty in time of war?). England hath not yet completed her last years Loan. All the powers will find it difficult to procure money to carry on the War. France hath already begun to Tax, and it is probable must Continue to do so. The great Neutral powers of Europe Seem to regard the present War, as an Event favorable to the Augmentation of their Commerce, and Will probably do so until one or other of the Contending parties, appear to have a decided Superiority. Portugal it is Said Seems better disposed to the Allies than heretofore.

The Combined fleet at Cadiz, Consists of 45 Sail of the line besides frigates &c-the Count D’ Estaing Commands the French part of the Fleet, and the Whole was ready to put to Sea. Mr. Laurence was taken on his passage to Holland and Conveyed to London, and is committed to the Tower on a Charge of High Treason. The Main Army is gone into Winter Quarters. My Compliments to Mr. Carroll and the Ladies … It would give me great pleasure to see you here.[13]

Hanson's appeal, among his fellow Continental Congress Delegates, was tenuous at best. The Articles of Confederation that were enacted in 1777 were ratified on July 9, 1778, by ten states; by New Jersey on the 26th of November 1778; and by Delaware, on the 23rd of February 1779. Maryland remained the lone holdout on the Articles and John Hanson, the former surveyor of Maryland’s western lands, was thought by many rival state delegations to be the major impediment to the state’s ratification. For two years the Continental Congress had been the stage for incessant wrangling between Maryland, Connecticut, New York, Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia over the state land claims in the western territories. Maryland was engaged in state line border disputes with its neighbors but the real issue standing in the way of ratification was the release of all state claims of western territory to the proposed Articles of Confederation government, the United States in Congress Assembled (USCA).

The 1777 Maryland Plan,[14] even before the Articles of Confederation were passed by the U.S. Continental Congress, proposed that the USCA would have the sole right and power over the frontier lands “North and West of the Ohio River,” later known as the Northwest Territory.  This measure, however, was heartily opposed by Virginia, New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts who all had vast interior claims to the Northwest Territory.   The Southern states of Georgia, South and North Carolina also had claims that stretched all the way to the Mississippi River. Maryland was alone but knowing that the constitution required state assembly ratification, its delegates approved the Articles of Confederation on November 15, 1777. The question of Northwest Territorial land claims was left to be considered by the individual state governments who were charged with the review and ratification of the Articles of Confederation.  

On May 21, 1779, after 12 States had ratified the Articles, the Maryland State Assembly formally communicated to the U.S. Continental Congress its conditions for ratification.  The assembly gave notice that it would only ratify the Articles if they received definite assurances that the Northwest Territory would be released by the states to the USCA:

We are convinced policy and justice require that a country unsettled at the commencement of this war, claimed by the British Crown, and ceded to it by the treaty of Paris, if wrested from the common enemy by the blood and the treasure of the 13 States, should be considered as a common property, subject to be parceled out by Congress into free, convenient, and independent governments, in such manner and at such times as the wisdom of that assembly shall hereafter direct.[15]

It was now the charge of Continental Congress Delegates John Hanson and Daniel Carroll to persistently press this demand of their State.

John Clark Ridpath, History of the United States - 1911
 U.S. State 1776-1781 claims on land east of the Mississippi River.

On September 6, 1780 the U.S. Continental Congress acted on the Maryland Plan resolving that the western territory be released and Maryland ratify the Articles of Confederation. The Journals report:

Congress took into consideration the report of the committee to whom were referred the instructions of the general assembly of Maryland to their delegates in Congress, respecting the articles of confederation, and the declaration therein referred to, the act of the legislature of New York on the same subject, and the remonstrance of the general assembly of Virginia; which report was agreed to, and is in the words following:

"That having duly considered the several matters to them submitted, they conceive it unnecessary to examine into the merits or the policy of the instructions or declaration of the general assembly of Maryland, or of the remonstrance of the general assembly of Virginia, as they involve questions, a discussion of which was declined on mature consideration, when the articles of confederation were debated; nor, in the opinion of the committee, can such questions be now revived with any prospect of conciliation; that it appears more advisable to press upon those states which can remove the embarrassment respecting the western country, a liberal surrender of a portion of their territorial claims, since they cannot be preserved entire without endangering the stability of the general confederacy; to remind them how indispensably necessary it is to establish the federal union on a fixed and permanent basis, and on principles acceptable to all its respective members; how essential to public credit and confidence, to the support of our army, to the vigor of our councils and success of our measures, to our tranquility at home, and our reputation abroad, to our present safety and our future prosperity, to our very existence as a free, sovereign and independent people; that they are fully persuaded the wisdom and magnanimity of the patriotic legislators of these states will on an occasion of such vast magnitude, prompt them to prefer the general security to local attachment, and the permanency of the confederacy to an unwieldy extent of their respective limits, of the respective legislatures will lead them to a full and impartial consideration of a subject so interesting to the United States, and so necessary to the happy establishment of the federal union; that they are confirmed in these expectations by a review of the before mentioned act of the legislature of New York, submitted to their consideration; that this act is expressly calculated to accelerate the federal alliance, by removing, as far as it depends on that State, the impediment arising from the western country, and for that purpose to yield up a portion of territorial claim for the general benefit; an example which in the opinion of your committee deserves applause, and will produce imitation," Whereupon,

Resolved, That copies of the several papers referred to the committee be transmitted, with a copy of the report, to the legislatures of Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia the several states, and that it be earnestly recommended to those states, who have claims to the western country, to pass such laws, and give their delegates in Congress such powers as may effectually remove the only obstacle to a final ratification of the articles of confederation; and that the legislature of Maryland be earnestly requested to authorize their delegates in Congress to subscribe the said articles; and that a copy of the aforementioned remonstrance from the assembly of Virginia and act of the legislature of New York, together with a copy of this report, be transmitted to the said legislature of Maryland.[16]

On October 10th Congress adopted Virginia proposal, moved by Delegate James Madison, to reimburse state expenses related to cession of western lands and to require that ceded lands "be disposed of for the common benefit of the United States.”  The Journals record:

Resolved, That the unappropriated lands that may be ceded or relinquished to the United States, by any particular states, pursuant to the recommendation of Congress of the 6 day of September last, shall be granted and disposed of for the common benefit of all the United States that shall be members of the federal union, and be settled and formed into distinct republican states, which shall become members of the federal union, and have the same rights of sovereignty, freedom and independence, as the other states: that each state which shall be so formed shall contain a suitable extent of territory, not less than one hundred nor more than one hundred and fifty miles square, or as near thereto as circumstances will admit: and that upon such cession being made by any State and approved and accepted by Congress, the United States shall guaranty the remaining territory of the said States respectively. That the necessary and reasonable expenses which any particular state shall have incurred since the commencement of the present war, in subduing any of the British posts, or in maintaining forts or garrisons within and for the defense, or in acquiring any part of the territory that may be ceded or relinquished to the United States, shall be reimbursed; That the said lands shall be granted and settled at such times and under such regulations as shall hereafter be agreed on by the United States in Congress assembled, or any nine or more of them. That all purchases made of the Indians of any of said lands by private persons, without the approbation of the Legislature of the State to whom the right of preemption belonged, shall not be deemed valid to make a title to such purchases. That no purchases and deeds from any Indians or Indian nations, for lands within the Territory to be ceded or relinquished, which have been made without the approbation of the legislature Postponed of the state within whose limits it lay for the use of any private person or persons whatsoever make a title to the purchasers shall not have been rated by lawful authority, shall be deemed valid or ratified by Congress.[17]

USCA President Samuel Huntington, a delegate from Connecticut, led the way for other congressional delegations when he successfully convinced his state legislature to relinquish their western lands claims to the federal government.  On November 28, 1780 John Hanson wrote Charles Carroll of Carrollton:

The president of Congress has promised to send by this post, a Copy of a late Law passed in Connecticut, respecting a Cession of some part of the back Lands. We have had nothing from Virginia or any other state on that Subject.[18] 

Maryland, thanks to John Hanson, Daniel Carroll, James Madison, Samuel Huntington and others brokering land cessions from the states, finally passed an act to empower their delegates to subscribe and ratify the Articles of Confederation on January 30th, 1781. On February 2, 1781 Governor Thomas Sim Lee signed the empowerment into law.  On February 20th, Daniel Carroll, after presenting Maryland’s ratification of the Articles to Congress, took a moment to write Charles Carroll of Carrollton:

On the first day of my appearing in Congress, I delivered the Act empowering the Delegates of Maryland to Subscribe the Articles of Confederation &c.! It was read, & entered on the Journals.[23]

John Hanson, the second delegate authorized to ratify the Articles of Confederation for Maryland, arrived in Philadelphia two days later.  Although Article V of the constitution stated that “… the United States, delegates shall be annually appointed in such manner as the legislatures of each State shall direct, to meet in Congress on the first Monday in November, in every year,” all the Congressional delegates were now duly appointed after their respective states had ratified the Articles of Confederation. Congress, who had waited on Maryland’s approval since the 12th state’s ratification in February 1779, decided not to delay the formation of the “Perpetual Union” confederation until November 5, 1781.  On February 22, 1781, it was unanimously resolved that:

The delegates of Maryland having taken their seats in Congress with powers to sign the Articles of Confederation: Ordered, That Thursday next [March 1, 1781] be assigned for compleating the Confederation; and that a committee of three be appointed, to consider and report a mode for announcing the same to the public: the members, [Mr. George] Walton, Mr. [James] Madison, Mr. [John] Mathews.[1]

Journals of Congress showing Maryland's Delegates 
Articles of Confederation    March 1, 1781 ratification
Stan Klos Collection

On that date, the Articles of Confederation was adopted and the Pennsylvania Gazette reported:

In pursuance of an Act of the Legislature of Maryland, entitled, 'An Act to empow­er the Delegates of the State in Congress to subscriber and ratify the Articles of Confederation,' the Delegates of the said State, on Thursday last, at twelve o, signed and ratified the Articles of Confederation; by which act the Confederation of the United States of America was completed, each and every of the Thirteen States, from New Hampshire to George, both included, having adopted and con­firmed, and by their Delegates in Congress ratified the same.

This happy even was immediately announced to the public by the discharge of the artillery on land, and the cannon of the shipping in the river Delaware. At two o’ clock his Excellency the President of Congress received on this occasion the congratulations of the Hon. the Minister Plenipotentiary of France, and of the Legislative and Executive Bodies of this State, of the Civil and Military Officers, sundry strangers of distinction in town, and of many of the principal inhabitants.

The evening was closed by an elegant exhibition of fireworks. The Ariel frigate, commanded by the gallant John Paul Jones, fired a feu de joye, and was beautifully decorated with a variety of streamers in the day, and ornamented with a brilliant appearance of lights in the night. 

Thus will the first of March, 1781, be a day memorable in the annals of America, for the final ratification of the Confederation and perpetual Union of the Thirteen States of America --- A Union, begun by necessity, cemented by oppression and common danger, and now finally consolidated into a perpetual confederacy of these new and rising States: And thus the United States of America, having, amidst the calamities of a destructive war, established a solid foundation of greatness, are growing up into consequence among the nations, while their haughty enemy, Britain, with all her boasted wealth and grandeur, instead of bringing them to her feet and reducing them to unconditional submission, finds her hopes blasted, her power crumbling to pieces, and the empire which, with overbearing insolence and brutality she exercised on the ocean, divided among her insulted neighbors. [25]

Articles of Confederation Congress
United States in Congress Assembled (USCA) Sessions

Session Dates
USCA Convene Date
11-05-1780 to 11-04-1781*
11-05-1781 to 11-03-1782
11-04-1782 to 11-02-1783
11-03-1783 to 10-31-1784
11-01-1784 to 11-06-1785
11-07-1785 to 11-05-1786
11-06-1786 to 11-04-1787
11-05-1787 to 11-02-1788
11-03-1788 to 03-03-1789**

* The Articles of Confederation was ratified by the mandated 13th State on February 2, 1781, and the dated adopted by the Continental Congress to commence the new  United States in Congress Assembled government was March 1, 1781.  The USCA convened under the Articles of Confederation Constitution on March 2, 1781.  

** On September 14, 1788, the Eighth United States in Congress Assembled resolved that March 4th, 1789, would be commencement date of the Constitution of 1787's federal government thus dissolving the USCA on March 3rd, 1789.

The following day, March 2nd, 1781, the United States in Congress Assembled (USCA) convened as the new government of the United States of America with Samuel Huntington as President.   Secretary Charles Thomas began the new journal by placing “The United States in Congress Assembled" at the head of the first page. The United States of America, which was conceived on July 2nd, 1776, proclaimed on the 4th, and re-formulated on November 15th, 1777, had finally been constitutional born with the Articles of Confederation’s ratification on March 1st, 1781. The USCA Journal reports:

The ratification of the Articles of Confederation being yesterday completed by the accession of the State of Maryland: The United States met in Congress, when the following members appeared: His Excellency Samuel Huntington, delegate for Connecticut, President...[26]

USCA Journals 1781 printing for March 2nd showing name change
and Samuel Huntington appearing as President - Stan Klos Collection

With the U.S. Continental Congress dissolved and the first U.S. Constitution now in effect, the United States in Congress Assembled government  was immediately challenged with the fact that the Articles of Confederation required that both the New Hampshire and Rhode Island, states with only one delegate present in the USCA, to be excluded from voting in the new assembly. This was particularly dicey because the day before the two delegates voted, as members of the Continental Congress, on numerous Treasury and Board of War resolutions required to conduct the war against Great Britain. Delaware Delegate Thomas Rodney, in his diary’s entry dated March 2nd, 1781, explained the conundrum faced by the USCA on Delegate voting in the new Congress:

The States of New Hampshire and Rhode Island having each but one Member in Congress, they became unrepresented by the Confirmation of the Confederation-By which not more than Seven nor less than two members is allowed to represent any State  -Whereupon General Sullivan, Delegate from New Hampshire moved  - That Congress would appoint a Committee of the States, and Adjourn till those States Could Send forward a Sufficient number of Delegates to represent them-Or that they would allow their Delegates now in Congress To give the Vote of the States until one More from each of those States was Sent to Congress to Make  their representation Complete.

He alleged that it was but just for Congress to do one or the other of them-for that the act of Congress by completing the Confederation ought not to deprive those States of their representation without giving them due notice, as their representation was complete before, & that they did not know when the Confederation would be completed. Therefore if the Confederation put it out of the power of Congress to allow the States vote in Congress because there was but one member from each them, they ought in justice to those States to appoint a Committee of the States, in which they would have an Equal Voice. This motion was seconded by Genl. Vernon from Rhode Island and enforced by arguments to the same purpose.

 But all their arguments were ably confuted by Mr. Burke of N.C. and others, and the absurdity of the motion fully pointed out, So that the question passed off without a Division. But it was the general opinion of Congress that those members might continue to sit in Congress, and debate & serve on Committees though they could not give the vote of their States. 

It was unanimously agreed that the Articles of Confederation were in full force and for a State to have a vote in the USCA, unlike the Continental Congress; at least two delegates were required to cast the one vote for their respective state. 

John Hanson’s Delegate correspondence dropped off dramatically after the ratification of the Articles of Confederation.  He was, however, plagued with the ills of the hyper-inflation of the U.S. dollar.  In 1780, President Samuel Huntington insisted that the only solution to the United States financial ills of debt amounting to 200 million dollars in 1780 was “fixing a standard for the currency.”  By March 1780, Congress was faced with the dollar devaluing to new lows that in some sections of the nation were trading at $50 U.S. dollars for one Spanish silver dollar.  On March 18, 1780, with the enactment of a resolution, the U.S. Continental Congress reneged on its  currency face guarantee of exchanging 1 U.S. dollar for 1 Spanish Milled Dollar hyper-inflating repayment to 40 U.S. Dollars to 1 Spanish Milled Dollar

Copyright © 2008 Stan Klos and Forgotten Founders, Inc.
Continental $5.00 Bill states “This bill entitles the Bearer to receive 
Five Spanish Milled Dollars, or the Value there-of in Gold or Silver
according to a Resolution of Congress passed at Philadelphia November 29, 1775.”

The U.S. Congress, by the stroke of a pen effectively reduced the national debt they owed in Spanish Milled Dollars from $200,000,000 to $5,000,000 with the enactment of the March 18, 1780 resolution.  The President’s Connecticut delegation, that included Roger Sherman and Oliver Ellsworth, voted unanimously for the resolution believing that the new currency policy would result in the stabilization of the national economy.  The following table represents the official marks of the U.S. Dollar depreciation from May 1775 to March 18, 1780.

U.S. Dollars
Spanish Milled Silver Dollar
May 10, 1775
March 1, 1778
September 1, 1778
March 1, 1779
September 1, 1779
March 18, 1780

But the depreciation still went on and by January 1, 1780, 1 Spanish Dollar was given for $45, on December 1, 1780 1 Spanish Dollar was given for $100 and finally on May 1, 1781 1 Spanish Silver Dollar was given for $500. There was no circulation of the Continental US dollars as a currency after this; but the USCA passed, at times, 1 Spanish Dollar for $1,000, or more to redeem the old issues.  It was on this matter that John Hanson would write the Governor of Maryland on April 2, 1781 adding a paragraph on military intelligence:

Mr. Carroll and I wrote to your Excellency and the Honorable Council by last post,  requesting a Supply of one thousand Dollars each of the new Emission, but at the present Exchange, I find that Sum Will be insufficient to answer my Immediate purposes. The Exchange between gold and silver, and the Emissions of the 18th March, Issued by the State of Maryland, is as 40 to 140, so that one silver Dollar is equal to three and a half. I must therefore request that my Sum may be increased to fifteen hundred Dollars for Which I Will be Accountable at the Exchange that may be Settled by the state.

 The Marquis de Lafyette Writes from Williamsburgh of the 26th Ult. That the Whole British fleet put out to Sea on the Morning of the 24th and return'd again with a number of Transports (Supposed to be from New York) on the 25th-it is said these Transports had 2000 Troops on Board. These Joined with the Army under Arnold it is feared will do great Mischief. I have enclosed you a hand Bill Containing an Account of the Action of the 15th and of the Killed, Wounded and Missing of the Continentals-by the return from the DA General We also lost of the Militia 97 Killed and Wounded officers included and missing 846 privates Supposed to be gone home. The Riffle regiments Commanded by Campbell and Lynch had 224 Killed and Wounded, officers included.    I have the honor to be with great Esteem & Regard, Your Excellency & Honors most humble Sert, John Hanson[23]

On April 10th Hanson would write a letter to his son-in-law, Dr. Phillip Thomas, thanking him for a loan of money and commenting on the health of his family:

Janey and Tammy’s State of health and the distressed and perplexed Situation Mrs. Hanson is in left alone a prey to Melancholy and despair destroys my peace of mind and renders me truly Miserable. Should have left this place last week but since the ratification of the Confederation nine States are required to make a Congress. Four are unrepresented And my withdrawing would leave a number insufficient to transact Business which at this Critical Conjuncture would perhaps be thought unpardonable however I hope to get Away by Thursday next. Some absent Members are sent for and one from Jersey is expected in today or tomorrow when that State will be represented.
 I hope you put yourself to no inconvenience in sending the money you enclosed. I could have done without it though I have not received one farthing from the state since I have been here. What you have directed shall be purchased.[24]

His daughter Jane's health continued to decline and he returned to Maryland in mid-April to be near his daughter, Philip’s wife, through her final illness. Jane died later that summer.  John Hanson did not return to the USCA until September 24th.   The business partnership and friendship that existed between his son-in-law and Hanson remained intact by evidence of their numerous letters during the 1781-1781 USCA session.

Prior to John Hanson's return to congress, on May 4th, 1781, after three months of committee work and a final debate, the United States in Congress Assembled approved the thirty-five rules for conducting the nation’s business under the Articles of Confederation.  The new rules stripped the Presidential office of its important political power to choose when and what matter came before the United States in Congress Assembled.  It is no wonder that President Samuel Huntington resigned and on July 8th, 1781, Delegate Thomas McKean would write to Samuel Adams, about the upcoming presidential election as "this honor is going a begging; there is only one Gentleman, and he from the Southward, who seems willing to accept, but I question whether he will be elected."

Rules for Conduction Business, in the United States in Congress Assembled dated May 4th, 1781, in this entry of The Journals of Congress and the United States in Congress Assembled, For the Year 1781, Published By Order of Congress, Volume VII New York: Printed by John Patterson. This entry reports the that new governing entity, The United States in Congress Assembled, now governs the United States of America -- Image courtesy of the Collection.
Rules for Conducting Business in the United States in Congress Assembled. May 4th, 1781
1. As soon as seven states are met the President may assume the chair, upon which the members shall take their seats.  
2. The minutes of the preceding day shall then be read, and after that the public letters, petitions and memorials, if any have been received or presented. 
3. Every letter, petition or memorial read, on which no order is moved, shall of course be considered as ordered to lie on the table, and may be taken up at any future time.
4. After the public dispatches, &c., the reports of committees which may have been delivered by them to the secretary during that morning or the preceding day shall, for the information of the house, be read in the order in which they were delivered, and, if it is judged proper, a day be assigned for considering them.
5. After the public letters, &c., are read, and orders given concerning them, the reports of the Board of Treasury and of the Board of War, if any, shall be taken into consid­eration; but none of those subjects for the determination of which the assent of nine states is requisite shall be agitated or debated, except when nine states or more are assembled. When a doubt is raised whether any motion or question is of the number of those for the determination of which in the affirmative the articles of confederation require the assent of nine states, the votes and assent of nine states shall always be necessary to solve that doubt, and to determine upon such motions or questions.
6. When a report, which has been read and lies for consideration, is called for it shall immediately be taken up. If two or more are called for, the titles of the several reports shall be read, and then the President shall put the question beginning with the first called for, but there shall be no debate, and the votes of a majority of the states pres­ent shall determine which is to be taken up.
7. An order of the day, when called for by a State shall always have the preference and shall not be postponed but by the votes of a majority of the United States in Congress assembled.  
8. When a report is brought forward for consideration it shall first be read over and then  debated by paragraphs and each paragraph shall be subject to amendments. If it relates only to one subject being in the nature of an ordinance it shall be subject to such additions as may be judged proper to render it complete and then it shall be read over as it stands amended and a question taken upon the whole: But if it com­prehends different subjects, independent one of another, in the form of distinct acts or resolutions a question shall be taken on each and finally a question on the whole.
9. No motion shall be received unless it be made or Negatived, seconded by a state. When any ordinance is introduced by report or otherwise, it shall be read a first time for the information of the house without debate. The President shall then put the following question "Shall this ordinance be read a second time." If it passes in the affirmative then a time shall be appointed for that purpose when it shall be read and debated by paragraphs and when gone through, the question shall be "Shall this ordinance be read a third time"; if agreed to, and a time appointed, it shall be accordingly read by paragraphs, and if necessary debated, and when gone through the question shall be "Shall this ordinance pass", if the vote is in the affirmative, a fair copy shall then be made out by the Secretary, either on parchment or paper and signed by the President and attested by the Secretary in Congress and recorded in the Secretary's office.
10. When a motion is made and seconded it shall be repeated by the President or If he or any other member desire being in writing it shall be delivered to the President in writing and read aloud at the table before it, shall be debated.
11. Every motion shall be reduced to writing and read at the table before it is debated if the President or any member require it.
12. After a motion is repeated by the President or read at the table it shall then be in the possession of the house, but may at any time before decision, be withdrawn, with the consent of a majority of the states present.
13. No member shall speak more than twice in any one debate on the same day, with-out leave of the house, nor shall any member speak twice in a debate until every member, who chooses, shall have spoken once on the same.   
14. Before an original motion shall be brought before the house, it shall be entered in a book to be kept for the purpose and to lie on the table for the inspection of the members, and the time shall be mentioned underneath when the motion is to be made, that the members may some prepared and nothing he brought on hastily or by  surprise. 
15. When a question is before the house and under debate, no motion shall be received unless for amending it, for the previous question, or to postpone the consideration of the main question or to commit it.  
16. No new motion or proposition shall be admitted under color of amendment as a substitute for the question or proposition under debate until it is postponed or disagreed to.   
17. When a motion is made to amend by striking out certain words, whether for the purpose of inserting other words or not, the first question shall be "Shall the words moved to be struck out stand?"   
18. The previous question (which is always to be understood in this sense that the main question be not now put) shall only be admitted when in the judgment of two states at least, the subject moved is in its nature or from the circumstances of time or place improper to be debated or decided, and shall therefore preclude all amendments and farther debates on the subject, until it is decided.  
19. A motion for commitment shall also have preference and preclude all amendments and debates on the subject until it shall be decided.  
20. On motions for the previous question for committing or for postponing no member  shall speak more than once without leave of the house.  
21. When any subject shall be deemed so important as to require mature discussionor deliberation before it be submitted to the decision of the United States in  Congress assembled, it shall be referred to the consideration of a grand committee consisting of one member present from each State, and in such case each State shall nominate its member. But the United States in Congress assembled shall in no case whatever be resolved into a committee of the whole. Every member may attend the debates of a grand committee and for that purpose the time and place of its meeting shall be fixed by the United States in Congress assembled. 
22. The states shall ballot for small committees, but if upon counting the ballots, the number required shall not be elected by a majority of the United States in Congress assembled, the President shall name the members who have been balloted for, and the house shall by a vote or votes determine the committee. 
23. If a question under debate contains several points any member may have it divided. 
24. When a question is about to be put, it shall be in the power of any one of the states  to postpone the determination thereof until the next day, and in such case, unless it shall be further postponed by order of the house the question shall, the next day immediately after reading the public dispatches, &c. and before the house go upon other business, be put without any debate, provided there be a sufficient number of states present to determine it; if that should not be the case, it shall be put without debate as soon as a sufficient number shall have assembled. 
25. If any member choose to have the yeas and nays taken upon any question, he shall move for the same previous to the President's putting the question and in such case every member present shall openly and without debate declare by ay or no his assent or dissent to the question. 
26. When an ordinance act or resolution is introduced with a preamble, the ordinance, act or resolution shall be first debated, and after it is passed, the preamble if judged necessary shall be adapted thereto: But if the preamble states some matter or thing as fact to which the house do not agree by general consent, and the ordinance, act or resolution is grounded thereon, the preamble shall be withdrawn or the fact resolved on as it appears to the house previous to any debate on the ordinance act or resolution; and if the fact shall not be established to the satisfaction of a majority of the United States in Congress assembled, the ordinance, act or resolution shall fall of course. 
27. Every member when he chooses to speak shall rise and address the President. When two members chance to rise at the same time, the President shall name the  person who is to speak first. Every member both in debate, and while the states are assembled shall conduct himself with the utmost decency and decorum. If any member shall transgress, the President shall call to order. In case the disorder be continued or repeated the President may name the person transgressing. Any member may call to order.                
28. When a member is called to order, he shall immediately sit down. If he has been named as a transgressor, his conduct shall be inquired into and he shall be liable to a censure.               
29. When a question of order is moved, the President if he is in doubt may call for the  judgment of the house, otherwise he shall in the first instance give a decision, and an appeal shall lie to the house, but there shall be no debate on questions of order,except that a member called to order for irregular or unbecoming conduct or for improper expressions may be allowed to explain.  
30. A motion to adjourn may be made at any time and shall always be in order, and the question thereon shall always be put without any debate.               
31. No member shall leave Congress without permission of Congress or of his constituents.               
32. No member shall read any printed paper in the house during the sitting thereof.
33. On every Monday after reading and taking order on the public dispatches a committee of three shall be appointed, who shall every morning during the week report to Congress the orders necessary to be made on such dispatches as may be received during the adjournment or sitting of Congress, upon which no orders shall have been made. The members of such Committee not to be eligible a second time until all the other members have served.                
34. The habit of a member of Congress in future shall be a plain purple gown with open-sleeves, plaited at the bend of the arm. And that no member be allowed to sit in Congress without such habit.    
35. The members of each state shall sit together in Congress, for the more ready conference with each other on any question above be taken that the house might not be disturbed by the members moving Postponed. from one part to another to conferone the vote to be given. That for the better observance of order, New Hampshire shall sit on the left hand of the President and on every question be first called, and each state from thence to Georgia shall take their seats in the order that their states are situated to each other. The delegates of the respective states to sit in their order of seniority.
This relegated the President to the duties of a passive chair (no agenda powers) as one of 18 Delegates (Nine States, two delegate minimum), at best, in deciding important matters of State. This new USCA Presidency was very weak in comparison to the Continental Congress Presidents who controlled the agenda, the mail (they read it first and decided what was to be brought before Congress) and were empowered to convene Congress with only one delegate present from only seven States. A Continental Congress President, after deciding what matters came before his congress, was empowered to vote on crucial legislation during the Revolutionary War as one Delegate representing his state with only six other states present (minimum quorum number was seven states with one delegate each). The USCA Presidents wielded no such powers, after the enactment of the rules, under the ratified Articles of Confederation and although Huntington had a three month reprieve on the rules, his successors would be bound to passively preside.

In addition to the mountains of primary sources recording Samuel Huntington's service as the first Articles of Confederation President, the USCA Journals report that there were two presidential elections occurring before John Hanson's Presidency and just after Huntington's resignation.  John Hanson was not present.
The first presidential election under the Articles of Confederation occurred on July 9th, 1781, and North Carolina Delegate Samuel Johnston was chosen the successor to the ailing Samuel Huntington.  The following day, however, Johnston refused the office.

The handwritten July 9th, 1781, Journals of the USCA do record that the following measure was passed after Johnston’s election and thus, if he took the chair, he was technically USCA President for a day:

The honble. Samuel Johnston was elected. 
A letter of this day, from the superintendant of finance was read:  
Ordered, That it be referred to a committee of three:
The members, Mr. Mathews, Mr. Carroll, Mr. Sullivan.

Historians, however, conclude that Samuel Johnston did not take the chair after his election on July 9th, 1781, as the business was so brief that it was not recorded in numerous print issues of the Journals.  The chair, they reason, must have remained with the Delegate or the USCA Secretary that was designated to preside over the election. This conclusion is substantiated by the Journals of the USCA reporting that, the following day, Samuel Johnston declined rather than "resigned" the office of President: 
Mr. [Samuel] Johnston having declined to accept the office of President, and offered such reasons as were satisfactory, the House proceeded to another election; and, the ballots being taken, the Hon. Thomas McKean was elected. [17]  
Delegate Thomas McKean  accepted the USCA Presidential office and began to preside over Congress on July 10th, 1781, four months before John Hanson was elected to the USCA Presidency.

USCA Journals 1781 printing open to the  July 9 & 10th, 1781 entries recording the elections of Samuel Johnston and Thomas McKean as Presidents of the United States in Congress Assembled four months before John Hanson's Presidency. - Image courtesy of the Collection.
President Thomas McKean, like Samuel Huntington, executed numerous resolutions, proclamations, and letters as the second USCA President to serve under the Articles of Confederation.  Below is the image of the September 7th, 1781, Journals entry recording a Thomas McKean resolution signature as USCA President.

John Hanson returned to congress under the McKean Presidency.  On October 2, 1781, amidst all the excitement of Allied movements toward Yorktown, John Hanson sent the letter to Governor Lee containing military intelligence

General Washington has been on a Visit to Count de Grasse, on board his Ship the Ville de paris at Cape Henry. He returned to Williamsburg the 23d Ult. He says he found the French Admiral disposed in the best manner, to give us all the assistance in his power, and perfectly to Cooperate wth. him in our present Attempt on Lord Cornwallis, and hopes to be before the Enemies Works in a few days. Our Vessels from the Head of Elk, are all Arrived, and were debarkg the Troops and stores, except a few, which were hourly Expected, their not having Arrived, is Accounted for from the Dullness of their Sailing. Every account from N York Confirms that of the Enemies having Suffered greatly in their late Engagement with Count de Grasse. That Admirals Account of it is very Short, and Modest. He Acquaints the Minister, that the British fleet having Appeared off the Capes, He immediately went out to meet them, Attacked their Van (which was treated very roughly) drove them off and then returned into Chesapeake; that he took two frigates in the Bay, which had been Sent in to Cut the Boyes from His Cables. The Defeat of the British fleet is a most Glorious and fortunate Event, as it will Effectually prevent Any Succors being Sent to Cornwallis, whose fate from present Appearances I think is inevitable God grant the Business may be Speedily Effected, that we may have time in Conjunction with the French fleet to Act Elsewhere before the winter season Comes on.    On the return of the British fleet to N York, the Troops that were embarked for the Southward landed on Staten Island on Account of Sickness, where they Still are.[25]

Later in the month, with his reelection still uncertain Hanson responded to Governor Lee’s request that Hanson keep him informed:

My Stay here is uncertain, it depends upon the next Election of Delegates to Congress, and in these Cases you Know, no great reliance is to be put in popular assemblies, but be assured while I Continue, I Shall take great pleasure in Communicating whatever I think may Merit your Attention.[26]

On October 23, 1781 after receiving news of Cornwallis’ defeat, Hanson wrote Philip Thomas that “I Congratulate you most sincerely on the Surrender of Lord Cornwallis to Gen. Washington, of which most important Event, we have information by a Letter from the Count de Grasse dated the 18th to Governor Lee and by him forwarded to the President of Congress by Express. The particulars we expect to receive from General Washington in two or three days.”  Thomas had been heavily involved in the forwarding of supplies from the Frederick County militia to the Continental Army throughout the war including delivering crucial shipments to Washington at Yorktown

On Saturday, November 3, 1781 Thomas McKean presided over the USCA for the last time with the members resolving “that the several matters now before Congress be referred over, and recommended to the attention of the United States in Congress assembled, to meet at this place on Monday next.”  

President John Hanson


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