An early advocate of colonial independence, John Hanson played a major role in pre-independence debates, resisting efforts on the part of the Loyalists to undermine defense preparations. He was elected to the Continental Congress in 1779 and worked to resolve disputes over the western lands among Virginia, Maryland, and other states. After passage of the Articles of Confederation in 1781, Hanson was appointed president of the United States in Congress Assembled. That made him presiding officer of Congress under the Articles. Some historians regard Hanson as the first president of the United States, although the specific office was not created until the U.S. Constitution was adopted.
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