Lot #95
John Hanson

The first president of Continental Congress to serve a full one-year term

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Estimate: $4000+


The first president of Continental Congress to serve a full one-year term

Excellent bold ink signature, "John Hanson Presid't,” on an off-white 5 x 7.5 sheet clipped from a larger document, bearing an embossed "U.S.A. Sigil. Naval" seal affixed above. In very good condition, with light soiling and intersecting folds. This seal, that of the Board of Admiralty, was adopted by the Continental Congress on May 4, 1780, and applied to all naval officer's commissions. A superb and exceedingly rare example.

On November 5, 1781, John Hanson became the first president of the Confederation Congress, the new name of the Continental Congress under the provisions of the Articles of Confederation—and he would go on to become the first congressional president to serve a full one-year term. 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.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Fine Autographs and Artifacts
  • Dates: #531 - Ended July 11, 2018

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