Presidential Precedent: The Men Before Washington

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Peyton Randolph

Who's he?...The 1st President of the United States.

He was voted into office in Philadelphia for the first Continental Congress. He was a planter and public official from the colony of Virginia. He also served as speaker of the Virginia House of Burgesses and chairman of the Virginia Conventions.


Henry Middleton

Who's he?...the 2nd President.

He was one of the wealthiest planters in the South from one of the most powerful families in the nation. A plantation owner and public official from South Carolina.  He served as president for a few days in 1774.


John Hancock

You know who he is...but you did not know he was the 3rd President of the United states.

The first and third governor of the commonwealth of Massachusetts. He is remembered for his large and stylish signature on the United States Declaration of Independence, so much so that the term “John Hancock” became a synonym for a signature.

The British labeled him a "Rebel"


Henry Laurens

4th President

An American merchant and rice planter from South Carolina, became a political leader during the Revolutionary War.  He succeeded John Hancock as president and was a signatory to the Articles of Confederation, and president when the Constitution was passed on November 15, 1777.

He earned great wealth as a partner in the largest slave-trading house in North America, Austin and Laurens. In the 1750s alone, this Charleston firm oversaw the sale of more than 8,000 enslaved Africans.


John Jay

5th in line of Presidents

The first secretary of state, first chief justice of the Supreme Court, and one of its first ambassadors.


Samuel Huntington

6th President

A jurist, statesman, and patriot from Connecticut during the American Revolution. Served as president from 1779 to 1781, chief justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court from 1784 to 1785, and the 18th governor of Connecticut from 1786 until his death.


Thomas McKean

7th President

Lawyer and politician from New Castle County, Delaware, and Philadelphia. During the American Revolution he was a delegate to the Continental Congress where he signed the United States Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation.


John Hanson

8th President, some consider him the 1st President as well as the 1st Black President.

A merchant and public official from Maryland. In 1779, Hanson was elected president and became the first official to serve a one-year term under the provisions of the Articles of Confederation.


Elias Boudinot

9th President

Lawyer and statesman from Elizabeth, New Jersey. He was appointed by President George Washington as director of the United States Mint, serving from 1795 until 1805


Thomas Mifflin

10th President

Merchant and politician from Philadelphia. A major general in the Continental Army and the 1st and 3rd quartermaster general during the American Revolution.


Richard Henry Lee

11th President

From Virginia, it is his motion in the Second Continental Congress calling for the colonies’ independence from Great Britain, June 1776, that led to the United States Declaration of Independence, which Lee signed. He was a signatory to the Articles of Confederation as well.


Nathaniel Gorham

12th President

Merchant from Massachusetts. He attended the constitutional convention and one of the signers of the United States Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787


Arthur St. Clair

13th President

 A soldier and politician. Born in Scotland, he served in the British Army during the French and Indian War before settling in Pennsylvania. He rose to the rank of major general in the Continental Army.


Cyrus Griffin

A lawyer and judge. last president before George Washington, holding office from Jan. 22, 1788, to Nov. 2, 1788. Then he was a Federal Judge.


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