John Hanson was not a slave. He was the son of Elizabeth and Samuel Hanson and born on April 14, 1742, in the then-British colony of Maryland. Pictures used as a claim that he was African-American are unfounded, as at that time, photography had yet to be invented.
Although he was not African-American, the possibility exists that he may have had an African ancestor. Hanson rose to become the first president of the Continental Congress under the Articles of Confederation in 1781. He served one year in the position and died in 1783. Hanson's title made him head of the country, as at that time, the country had no executive branch.