John Hanson

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John Hanson (April 14, 1721[1] – November 22, 1783) was a merchant and public official from Maryland during the era of the American Revolution. After serving in a variety of roles for the Patriot cause in Maryland, in 1779 Hanson was elected as a delegate to the Continental Congress. He signed the Articles of Confederation in 1781 after Maryland finally joined the other states in ratifying them. In November 1781, he became the first President of Congress to be elected under the terms of the Articles of Confederation.[2] Because of this, some people claim that he was the first President of the United States.


Early life

John Hanson, Jr.[2] was born at "Mulberry Grove" in Port Tobacco Parish in Charles County in the British Province of Maryland. The American National Biography lists Hanson's birth date as April 3, 1721,[2] which in the modern calendar system is equivalent to April 14, although the older Dictionary of American Biography gives the date as April 13, 1721.[3] Some older sources list a birth year of 1715. Hanson's parents were Samuel and Elizabeth (Story) Hanson.[2] Samuel Hanson was a planter who owned more than 1,000 acres (4.0 km2),[2] and held a variety of political offices, including serving two terms in the Maryland General Assembly.[3]

John Hanson was of English ancestry; his grandfather, also named John, came to Charles County, Maryland, as an indentured servant around 1661.[4] In 1876, a writer named George Hanson placed John Hanson in his family tree of Swedish Americans descended from four Swedish brothers who emigrated to New Sweden in 1642.[4][5] This story was often repeated over the next century, but scholarly research in the late 20th century suggested that John Hanson was of English heritage and not related to these Swedish American Hansons.[6][7]

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