Saturday, January 16, 2010

First President?

I checked a book out of the library called The Greatest Presidential Stories Never Told by Rick Beyer.  I've been reading it on my way to class and on my way home, and some of the stories are pretty interesting.  For instance, did you know that George Washington wasn't the first President of the United States? No no...he was the first President elected after the Constitution was ratified (in 1789). Before the Constitution we had the Articles of the Confederation, which were ratified in 1781.  The President of the United States under the Articles of the Confederation was John Hanson.  His official title was "President of the United States in Congress Assembled."  So there you go. Granted, his job wasn't the same as the President under the Constitution, but he was President nonetheless.  He was only in office for one year and but had some big accomplishments, including 1) establishing the Treasury Department (which was a big debate all in itself), 2) adopting the Great Seal of the United States, and 3) declaring the fourth Thursday of November as a "day of thanksgiving."  Too bad nobody knows who he is.

Another interesting tidbit of information I picked up from that book was that the only person to not use a bible as his inauguration was Franklin Pierce.  He put his hand on a law book and he "affirmed" the oath instead of "swearing" it.  The reason for this was that he was in the middle of a crisis of faith.  On his way to his inauguration, his eleven-year-old son was killed in a train accident. Sad. Maybe this has something to do with why he was ranked as the 3rd least ineffective president.


Katie said...

I feel a little disoriented. You'd think grade school and high school (or at least college) American history classes would at least mention that guy. (See? I don't even remember his name.) Sad day for him. And... how strange that we (sort of) have a secret first president.

Kathy Haynie said...

The latest Smithsonian has an interesting article about George Washington, and myths of the Revolutionary War.