The Case of the Missing Presidents

November 17, 2005

Yes students, there really were 8 previous leaders of the US before Washington ever took the oath.

The following is taken from The Illuminoids, by Neal Wilgus, published by Pocket Books, New York 1978. It is a history of belief in a secret society called the Illuminati that controls world events behind the scenes. (pp. 31-33)


Or was Washington really the first president after all? A number of historians hold that a patriot named John Hanson was technically the first chief executive because he was elected President of the United States in Congress Assembled on November 5, 1781, the first of seven such one-year termed presidents. In fact, Hanson even introduced the victorious General Washington to Congress a few weeks later when the Revolutionary War ended.Washington didn’t become president until 1789, following the terms of Presidents Hanson, Boudinot, Mifflin, Lee, Gorham, St. Clair and Griffin. But Hanson and the others got a bad press, according to a story in The Star, December 2, 1975, and Washington, Franklin and others soon stole the spotlight. Historians Arthur G. Horton and Merle Jensen are quoted as Hanson authorities in the article and the story they tell of the first American president is a bit different than we are used to.

John Hanson John “Swede” Hanson, it turns out, was a next-door neighbor to Washington, both of them members of successful farming families along the Potomac River. Ironically, Hanson grew up to become the first president of the new nation, but it was the more dramatic military figure, master spy “711,” who became known as “father of his country.” The brief Hanson administration was a busy one, tho, with the forgotten chief executive establishing the first post office and setting up the first presidential cabinet, which included Franklin as Secretary of State.


Strangely enough, Washington’s diary is missing from November 5, 1781, Hanson’s election day, until the fall of 1784 when President Lee was in office. According to Howard Rich in an article in Saver’s World, Summer, 1975, Hanson’s correspondence for the period is also missing—but this is not surprising since little of Hanson’s personality has survived. Horton and Jensen, in fact, paint Hanson as a colorless man, about whom no stories have survived, despite the fact that he was from an influential family and was a popular member of the Maryland State Assembly for 22 years. Hanson emerged from his year as president as a sick old man and a year later, on November 22, 1783, he fell ill and died. Even his burying place is now unknown.

Hanson, in a strange way, shares a number of things with the early American conspirator, Benedict Arnold. Both Hanson and Arnold were eager patriots who contributed to the raising of the first troops for the revolutionary army Washington was to lead. Arnold was one of the leading generals, perhaps a competitor for Washington’s military leadership. He was involved in a conspiracy which led to his downfall and desertion to the British. Hanson was the first President of Congress Assembled, perhaps a competitor for Washington’s political leadership. He faded into obscurity soon after his brief term as President and subsequent death.

Here is a list of the 8 Presidents:

John Hanson (1781-82)
Elias Boudinot (1782-83)
Thomas Mifflin (1783-84)
Richard Henry Lee (1784-85)
John Hancock (1785-86)
Nathan Gorman (1786-87)
Arthur St. Clair (1787-88)
Cyrus Griffin (1788-89)


5 Responses to “The Case of the Missing Presidents”

  1. Dianne McLaughlin Says:

    Mr. Schepker,
    I was wondering if you had any information regarding John Hanson’s heritage. Sometime ago I came across an old book at the Santa Monica Library that stated that when the Hanson family originally came from Sweden the family had a different “swedish” sur name. And that they had connections with royalty. I even remember seeing a coat of arms. Also, I was wondering if John Hanson was a mason. I can’t help but think that there was foul play surrounding his death. It seems odd to me that he died so soon after being in office. I read that The Mason’s had some ritual about “The Killing of the First King.” Do you have any information regarding his illness and who was his nephew in Oxford? The reason I’m so interested about John Hanson is that my grandfather (Kenneth Hanson-a mason) told my mother that we were related to him.His sister Pauline was a main figure in The Eastern Star with D.A.R. My mother refuses to be in touch with that side of the family.

  2. Fred Schein Says:

    Hanson was born in Port Tobacco, MD in a prominent family. Here is another site.

    HANSON, John, (grandfather of Alexander Contee Hanson), a Delegate from Maryland; born at Mulberry Grove, near Port Tobacco, Charles County, Md., April 3, 1715; pursued an academic course; engaged in agricultural pursuits; member of the State house of delegates for nine terms; member of the State senate 1757-1773; moved to Frederick County in 1773; delegate to the General Congress at Annapolis in 1774; treasurer of Frederick County in 1775; member of the Maryland convention of 1775; Member of the Continental Congress 1780-1782; elected President of the Continental Congress on November 5, 1781; signer of the Articles of Confederation of the United States; died at the residence of his nephew at Oxon Hill, Prince Georges County, Md., November 22, 1783.


    Levering, Ralph B. “John Hanson, Public Servant.” Maryland Historical Magazine 71 (Summer 1976): 113-33.

  3. Camille Says:

    Mr. Schepker,

    Do you know where I could find information on the Boudinot family Coat of Arms?

    Thank you.

  4. shep Says:

    i did a quick search on google and couldn’t come up with an actual picture of the Boudinot Family Coat of arms… There seems to be some reference to his description of them if you google boudinot coat of arms.

  5. Christi Abercrombie Says:

    Mr. Schepker, I am trying to trace my geneology and have wondered how Mulberry Grove came to belong to Robert Fergusson in 1785. He was employed with John Glassford’s company from Glasgow Scotland, and the estate remained in the Fergusson family for several generations. Many are in the family cemetary. I am descended from a younger John Fergusson (about 30 years Robert’s junior…perhaps a nephew? )who also worked for Glassford and married Elizabeth Hamilton. I would appreciate any info you may have. Thank you.

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