Extremely rare partly-printed DS, signed “John Hanson, Presid't,” one page, 16.5 x 13.5, no date, but circa 1781-82. Unissued ship's pass signed along the left side by Hanson as president, and countersigned by Charles Thomson as secretary. The embossed off-white "U.S.A. Sigil Naval" seal remains affixed to upper left. Attractively matted and framed to an overall size of 23 x 19.5. In fine condition, with light wrinkling along intersecting folds. Provenance: Christie’s December 2015.
On November 5, 1781, John Hanson became the first president of the Continental Congress to serve a one-year term under the provisions of the Articles of Confederation. The third overall Congressional president as the successor to both Samuel Huntington and Thomas McKean—their combined tenure totaling to seven months—Hanson did not initially enjoy the largely ceremonial role, which consisted of much correspondence and document signing, and purportedly considered resigning after a single week in office. Out of a sense of duty Hanson remained as president until November 3, 1782, and proceeded to fill his one-year tenure with a wealth of achievements that would set precedent for all future incumbents. Among his accomplishments: ordering all foreign troops off American soil, as well as the removal of all foreign flags; establishing the Great Seal of the United States, the first Treasury Department, the first Secretary of War, and the first Foreign Affairs Department; and declaring that the fourth Thursday of every November was to be Thanksgiving Day. Some consider Hanson to have been the first true president of the United States. A remarkably well-preserved document signed by a figure of unique historical importance—the first example of Hanson that we have ever offered.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.