John Hanson served as the first president of the United States under the Articles of Confederation, the governing document that preceded the Constitution. As the first of eight men appointed to a one-year presidential term prior to the adoption of the Constitution, his position was largely ceremonial.
Hanson intensely disliked the job and wanted to resign, but there was no plan for succession. He remained and accomplished much, including the removal of all foreign troops from America, the formation of the Treasury and Foreign Affairs Departments, and the appointment of the country's first Secretary of War.
Hanson's family emigrated from England in the early 1700s and established three generations of roots in Maryland before he ran for office. Known as a forgotten president, Hanson began his political career as a Maryland Colonial Assemblyman. He spoke often and loudly against British tyranny and was a driving force behind Maryland's support of the rebels that attacked the British in Boston following fights in Concord and Lexington.
Although some consider Hanson merely the President of the Continental Congress and not the United States, others point to his achievements and the fact that he and Washington both have statues in the nation's Capitol as evidence of his leadership. Hanson died in 1873, just a year after his term ended.