Skip to comments.Group Insists Washington Not First Prez
Posted on 01/27/2004 8:33:01 AM PST by ZGuy
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- George Washington is facing an opponent for office, even though his term has long expired.
The title of "first president" has always belonged to Washington, but in the southeastern Connecticut city of Norwich, there's a mounting effort to rewrite history.
The Norwich Historical Society believes the title rightfully belongs to Samuel Huntington, the Connecticut native and president of the Continental Congress when the Articles of Confederation were ratified in 1781.
"We don't do this in the spirit of anything except having history be historically correct," said Bill Stanley, the association's president. "The honor of first president is almost sacred. You don't play games with things like that."
Campaigning for Huntington's presidency will be no easy task, especially since Washington's portrait is an icon of American patriotism.
But the society says facts are on their side. Arguing that the Articles of Confederation established the United States as a country, they say that proves Huntington was the true first president.
"One of the ways you do it is you examine the Articles of Confederation and how they were implemented," said Norwich attorney John Cotter, who is helping the society build its case. "I think in many ways, that holds the key. There's no question he was president of the Continental Congress, but what did that mean in the context of his time? That's the issue."
Stanley Klos, a collector of historical documents and historical building renovator from Upper Saint Clair, Pa., has been making the case for Huntington's recognition without success for years.
He's pleaded with Congress, written to the president and traveled the country with an exhibit of documents that refer to Huntington.
He's also considered taking the cause to the federal courts.
On a Web site, www.uspresidency.com, he explains why he believes Huntington and nine other men who led the Congress before Washington's election in 1789 were considered presidents. Sometimes, it gets confusing.
"I get these kids that say, 'I just had a test on who was the first president, and I put down Samuel Huntington, and it got marked wrong," he said. "They say, 'Can you call my teacher?'"
For documentation, Klos plans to offer the Norwich group Journals of the Continental Congress that refer to Huntington as president. Also in his collection is a letter written from France addressed to a "president" Samuel Huntington.
Born in Winsted, Huntington was a state representative for Norwich who rose to lead the Continental Congress from 1779 to 1781. He was elected governor of Connecticut in 1786, and held the office until his death in 1796. During his term, he presided over the decision to erect a new state house in Hartford.
Theories on why he and the other nine leaders of the Continental Congress aren't given presidential status vary. One reason may be because the Articles of Confederation failed, Klos said.
"We like to be associated with winners. We don't want to talk about those dark days after we won the Revolutionary War and the government was basically in shambles," he said.
U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, R-Conn., whose district includes Norwich, said he may push for legislation to have Huntington and his nine colleagues recognized as presidents. That would add them to the list honored on President's Day, and have wreaths placed on their graves on their birthdays.
But as far as securing the title of first president?
"We probably won't go quite that far," he said.
Stanley wants to. Launching his campaign is likely the "first inning in a nine inning fight," he says.
Strike Three. Go sit down.
Presidents of the Continental Congress as The United Colonies of America
September 5, 1774 to October 22, 1774
and May 20 to May 24, 1775
October 22, 1774 to October 26, 1774
October 27, 1775 to July 1, 1776
Presidents of the Continental Congress United States of America
July 2, 1776 to October 29, 1777
November 1, 1777 to December 9, 1778
December 10, 1778 to September 28, 1779
September 28, 1779 to February 28, 1781
Presidents of the United States In Congress Assembled
1st President of the United States in Congress Assembled
March 1, 1781 to July 6, 1781
2nd President of the United States in Congress Assembled
July 10, 1781 to November 5, 1781
3rd President of the United States in Congress Assembled
November 5, 1781 to November 4, 1782
4th President of the United States in Congress Assembled
November 4, 1782 to November 3, 1783
5th President of the United States in Congress Assembled
November 3, 1783 to June 3, 1784
Richard Henry Lee
6th President of the United States in Congress Assembled
November 30, 1784 to November 23, 1785
7th President of the United States in Congress Assembled
November 23, 1785 to June 6, 1786
8th President of the United States in Congress Assembled
June 1786 - November 13, 1786
Arthur St. Clair
9th President of the United States in Congress Assembled
February 2, 1787 to October 29, 1787
10th President of the United States in Congress Assembled
January 22, 1788 to March 4, 1789
He's also considered taking the cause to the federal courts.
This infuriates me as much as anything else in the article.
The United States of America existed for 14 years before the constitution was written.
We delcared our selves to be the United States of America when we declared our indpendance from England in 1776. A little document adopted by the congress called the Declaration of Independence formed our nation.
We officially became the United States of America in 1781 when the revolutionary war was won and Engand and the rest of the world recognized us as the Unites States of America. France and a few other nations had recognized us as a nation earlier.
The first constitution of the United States was called the "Articles of Confederation" of the United States. It was in effect as the contitution of the United sTates of America until 1789.
Then in 1789 a new constitution was adopted that replaced the articles of confederation .. the new one as amened is still in use today. When the second contitution was adopted Washington was selected as the first president under the new constitution. Under the new constitution the people did not have the right to vote for the president. Washington was selected by the Electoral college. The members of the electoral college were selected by the individual state legislatures as were the Senators. ONly house members were elected by the people in direct elections.
Washington was the the first president selected by representatives of the state legislatures under our second constitution. He was not our first Chief Executive... no more than the next president of IRAQ will be its first President.
During the first years of this nation's existance Washingon was the commanding General of our Army. He was constantly begging the government fo the United States of America for more money for the Army. Other men were the political leaders during the war period. The Articles of confederation were more like the British form of government. Our leaders job description was more like Tony Blairs job description than George Bush's.
This nation existed for 14 years before Washinton became president. Does any one beleive it managed to last for 14 years with out a government or an executive to run it?
No, but the office of President of the United States did not exist then.
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