The signers of the Declaration of Independence. John Hancock is seated on the right, presiding.
Why did John Hancock sign his name so largely on the Declaration of Independence? The answer may surprise you. It was because the Continental Congress called him their "President", and as the President of the Continental Congress at the time the Declaration of Independence was signed, I would argue that the de facto and de jure first President of the United States as a Confederacy, on July 4, 1776, was John Hancock.
There are those who have mislabeled two others as forgotten Presidents of the United States. This is not so. They were Presidents of the Continental Congress prior to the signing of the Declaration of Independence, that legal document by which the US Supreme Court has repeatedly cited as marking the origins of this nation, the United States of America.
The list of negative (non-extant) Presidents:
-3 Peyton Randolph served as the First President of the United Colonies formulated into the Continental Congress from September 5, 1774 at the approximate age of 53 years old, and served a little over a month as President until October 21, 1774. His election was by those of actual members and participants of the First Continental Congress.
-2. Henry Middleton served as the Second President of the United Colonies, in absentia of Peyton Randolph's presence. He was elected by those Colonial State representatives collected into the political body of the Continental Congress. His election in absentia was probably a motivating factor as to why when the Constitution was drafted 13 years later that the office of the Vice-President was required by our Constitution. It went back to the "in absentia" experience that necessitated Middleton to assume the Presidency of the Continental Congress, even if for a much shorter duration than his predecessor. Henry Middleton was stated to be some 57 years old at his election, and served that body as its President for less than a week, from October 22, 1774 until October 26, 1774, to the conclusion of the Continental Congress business for that session.
It may be that those of the Continental Congress did not view Middleton so much as its second President, as much as a President pro tem, and that Peyton Randolph was still in the capacity as being its legal President, even if absent at the time.
-1 . Peyton Randolph was able to resume as the office as President of the Continental Congress when it reconvened. He served again as its President from May 10 to May 24, 1775. Bad health took its toll, and he resigned and died the same year.
0. John Hancock, born January 12, 1737 in Quincy Massachusetts, was at the age of 38 elected the same day that Continental Congress President Randolph felt obligated to resign by incapacitation due to ill health. This "resigning or replacing by incapacitation" consideration would also eventually make its way into the US Constitution. John Hancock assumed the office of President of the Continental Congress (i.e., the United Colonial States) on May 24, 1775 and served as what I call "negative President zero" until July 3, 1776. He would live until October 8, 1793.
The List of the Legislative Presidents: the Presidents of the Confederacy of the United States of America:
Before I begin, it must be noted that these first de facto and de jure Presidents of the United States were NOT EXECUTIVE positions. They were equivocal to the Speaker of the House, and absent a US Senate and absent an Executive Branch of Government. These Presidents must be viewed in that context. Therefore, the use of Presidents of the Confederacy of the United States, the weak centralized Government being subject to the Articles of Confederation, is accurate. However, unlike other historians who leave out many of the Presidents of the Confederacy, some citing two or three, some as many as eight, I instead choose to list all of them, including the preceding office: President of the Continental Congress. While some Presidents of States had their title changed to "Governor", it was the body politic under the Presidency of the United States that evolved from Colonial to Sovereignty, until its evolving changed required a change to the title that oversaw it from a Legislative Leader to that of an Executive.
However, even in their weakened Confederate State, these men were, for the purposes of history, non-executive Presidents of the United States, nevertheless. Again, prior to the the United States as a Republic, and in its formative and transition years, the United States existed as a Confederacy. It was these kind of weakened (almost "Speaker of the House") Legislative styled and arbitrator role Presidencies that the Southern States had later seemed to advocate in a demand of a return to when they called for a return to a recognition and autonomy of operating more like a "Confederacy" of "free and independent states" as if by contract from the 1776 Declaration of Independence in the early to mid 1800s...with stronger states and a weakened central Government acting as a benign overseer and arbitrator between the States of such a Confederacy.
1. John Hancock on July 4, 1776, still as President of the Continental Congress, de facto and de jure became President of the United States with the signing of the Declaration of Independence. He signed the Declaration of Independence first in large and bold writing because he was the New President of a New Nation. He also signed in his representation in behalf of Massachusetts, for which representation, he also signed the Articles of Confederation. He continued to serve as the first President of the United States in its body politic as a Confederacy, until October 29, 1777.
2. Henry Laurens, born on March 6, 1724 in Charleston of South Carolina, was a signer of the Articles of Confederation for South Carolina, and served as the second President of the Confederacy of the United States from November 1, 1777 until December 9, 1778. Henry Laurens stepped down to take an ambassadorship to the Netherlands, and was captured by the British while en route. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London until prisoner exchanged weeks after the October 19, 1781 end to the battle of Yorktown (which battle began on September 29, 1781).
3. John Jay, born on December 12, 1745 in New York of New York, became the third President of the Confederacy of the United States of America from December 10, 1777 until September 27, 1779. He neither signed the Declaration of Independence, nor the Articles of Confederation, nor the US Constitution, because he did not serve in that State capacity of representation at the time those documents were signed. However, because of the depth of his influences and participations, he is also a "Founding Father" of this nation, and his time spent as President of the United States, even though a Confederacy at the time, affirms his place as a Founding Father of this nation, the Republic of the United States of America.
After serving as this nation's third de facto and de jure President, John Jay would find himself as ambassador to Spain, the Secretary of State in July of 1784, and finally Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the (new) Republic of the United States of America in 1789 as appointed by George Washington. In his brief tenure as Chief Justice, among his most notable decisions was that of Chisholm v. Georgia, 2 US 419 (1793)
which is believed to have been the same basis used to grant the United States its 11th Amendment to the US Constitution on State's Rights.
The 11th Amendment was approved by Congress on March 4, 1794 and ratified on February 7, 1795, and reads:
The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.
Although the amendment was challenged, including over that it was not signed by the President -- Hollingsworth v. Virginia, 3 U.S. 3 Dall. 378 (1798) -- the Amendment challenges were rejected by the US Supreme Court. It reads (in blue):
The amendment of the Constitution of the United States by which the judicial power of the United States was declared not to extend to any suit commenced or prosecuted by a citizen or citizens of another state or by foreign subjects against a state prevented the exercise of jurisdiction in any case past or future.
The decision of the court, in the case of Chisholm v. Georgia, 2 U. S. 419, produced a proposition in Congress for amending the Constitution of the United States according to the following terms:
"The judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law and equity commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by citizens of another state or by citizens or subjects of any foreign state."
[Something the illegally appointed (via Obam) DOJ US Attorney General Eric Holder in 2010 has cast to the wind, inviting any Latin American Foreign Power to come in and help him sue Arizona over its Immigration Law. Even though Arizona's Immigration 2010 Law was simply mirroring the Federal Law on the books, Holder sued and brought in foreign interest representation, in violation of the 11th Amendment among other egregious disregards to the US Constitution by the Department of "Justice" under the Obama the Usurper Administration. Again, by inviting Mexico, Venezuela, and other foreign states to weigh in on the case on the Plaintiff side which Holder represents v. Arizona, he is de facto and de jure suing a State on behalf on non-citizen foreigners and subjects of foreign states. This has already been ruled against by this case decision from 1798.-- Brianroy]
The proposition being now adopted by the constitutional number of states, Lee, Attorney General, submitted this question to the Court whether the amendment did or did not supersede all suits depending, as well as prevent the institution of new suits against any one of the United States by citizens of another state.
Page 3 U. S. 382
The Court, on the day succeeding the argument, delivered an unanimous opinion that the amendment being constitutionally adopted, there could not be exercised any jurisdiction in any case, past or future, in which a state was sued by the citizens of another state or by citizens or subjects of any foreign state.
John Jay retired from public service in 1801, became a President of the American Bible Society, advocated against slavery, and died on May 17, 1829.
4. Samuel Huntington, born on either July 2nd, 5th or 16th of 1731 in Windham, Connecticut. His birth date according to Charles A. Goodrich Lives of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence. New York: William Reed & Co., 1856, was allegedly the 2nd of July, but other biographers have differed on the exact birth date. Samuel Huntington, signer of the Declaration of Independence for Connecticut, served as the fourth President of the Confederacy of the United States from September 28, 1779 until July 9, 1781. Like Peyton Randolph, he was forced to resign due to bad health and incapacitation. Unlike Randolph, Huntington went on to recover, and did not pass away until January 5, 1796.
5. Thomas McKean was born on March 19, 1734 in New-London of Pennsylvania in Chester County, and served as the fifth President of the Confederacy of the United States from July 10 to November 4, 1781. McKean was an avid reader of Latin and Greek classics in their own languages. He died on June 24, 1817. Thomas McKean was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation for the State of Delaware.
Thomas McKean is especially notable for a couple reasons. One is, that while a Delegate for Delaware, he was also an active Colonel in the Militia. He had barely arrived in time for the last argument before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which he had already made up his mind to sign beforehand...and is the only one to have signed that document while still wearing spurs on his boots. The very next day, he was dispatched with his militia to Perth Amboy, New Jersey, to effect a relief action for George Washington. Not long after, his militia was disbanded, and he ascended to the pinnacle in Delaware public office.
Of a note, we find that the biographies of the period during the lifetimes of the founders (like Thomas McKean) were sometimes neglectful by omission. In Thomas McKean's letter of September 26, 1796, he writes the ff. to a Mr. Dallas of Pennsylvania:
"Your favour of the 19th instant, respecting the Declaration of Independence, should not have remained so long unanswered, if the duties of my office of chief justice had not engrossed my whole attention, while the court was sitting.
For several years past, I have been taught to think less unfavourably of scepticism than formerly. So many things have been misrepresented, misstated, and erroneously printed, (with seeming authenticity,) under my own eye, as in my opinion' to render those who doubt of every thing, not altogether inexcusable: The publication of the Declaration of Independence, on the 4th of July, 1776, as printed in the second volume of the Journals of Congress, page 241; and also in the acts of most public bodies since, so far as respects the names of the delegates or deputies, who made that Declaration, has led to the above reflection. By the printed publications referred to, it would appear, as if the fifty-five gentlemen, whose names are there printed, and none other, were on that day personally present in congress, and assenting to the Declaration; whereas, the truth is otherwise. The following gentleman were not members of congress on the 4th of July, 1776; namely Matthew Thornton, Benjamin Rush, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, and George Ross.
The five last named were not chosen delegates until the 20th day of the month; the first, not until the 12th day of September following, nor did he take his seat in congress, until the 4th of November, which was four months after. The journals of Congress, (vol. ii. page 277 and 442.) as well as those of the assembly of the state of Pennsylvania, (p. 53.) and of the general assembly of New-Hampshire, establish these facts. Although the six gentleman named had been very active in the American cause, and some of them, to my own knowledge, warmly in favour of independence, previous to the day on which it was declared, yet I personally know that none of them were in congress on that day.
Modesty should not rob any man of his just honour, when by that honour, his modesty cannot be offended. My name is not in the printed journals of congress, as a party to the Declaration of Independence, and this, like an error in the first concoction, has vitiated most of the subsequent publications; and yet the fact is, that I was then a member of congress for the state of Delaware, was personally present in congress, and voted in favour of independence on the 4th of July, 1776, and signed the declaration after it had been engrossed on parchment, where my name, in my own hand writing, still appears. Henry Misner, of the state of New-York, was also in congress, and voted for independence. I do not know how the misstatement in the printed journal has happened. The manuscript public journal has no names annexed to the Declaration of Independence, nor has the secret journal; but it appears by the latter, that on the 19th day of July, 1776, the congress directed that it should be engrossed on parchment, and signed by every member, and that it was so produced on the 2nd of August, and signed. This is interlined in the secret journal, in the hand of Charles Thompson, the secretary. The present secretary of state of the United States, and myself, have lately inspected the journals, and seen this. The journal was first printed by Mr. John Dunlap, in 1778, and probably copes, with the names then signed to it, were printed in August, 1776, and that Mr. Dunlap printed the names from one of them.
I have now, sir, given you a true, though brief, history of this affair; and, as you are engaged in publishing a new edition of the Laws of Pennsylvania, I am obliged to you for affording the favourable opportunity of conveying to you this information, authorizing you to make any use of it you please. "I am," &c. "
6. John Hanson, born in Charles County of Maryland on April 3, 1715, signer of the Articles of Confederation for Maryland, served as the sixth President of the Confederacy of the United States of America from November 5, 1781 to November 3, 1782. He died on November 15, 1783. His family was one of distinction, with nephews who were singularly signers of the Declaration of Independence, and the US Constitution, Governor of Maryland, and a direct military aide to George Washington. After the US Constitution was ratified, one of his grandsons served as a Representative in Congress, and another as a Maryland State Senator. Because his grandfather co-founded New Sweden along the Delaware River, and the aforementioned relations, he was considered among the American alternate version to aristocracy.
7. Elias Boudinot, born on May 2, 1740 in Philadelphia of Pennsylvania, like John Jay, had not signed the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, or the US Constitution. He moved to New Jersey and had a law practice in Elizabethtown. He served as the seventh President of the United States of the Confederacy from November 4, 1782, to November 2, 1783. He was a signer of the 1783 Peace Treaty with Great Britain as the representative President of the United States of America.
Again, like John Jay, Elias Boudinot served as Secretary of State, then titled as the “Secretary of Foreign Affairs". He was a Congressman of the House of Representatives, the first director of the US Mint, and the first admission of advocate to the Bar of the United States Supreme Court. He also served as a trustee at Princeton University.
Also like John Jay, Boudinot served as President of the American Bible Society, but preceding Jay to that distinction in 1816. Elias wrote a book titled "Star of the West", where he explored the notion of whether it were possible that some of the Indians (Native Americans by designation today) might have been descended from the Lost Tribes of Israel, based on similar customs and primitive archaeological observations. Elias Boudinot died on October 24, 1821.
8. Thomas Mifflin, signer of the US Constitution for Pennsylvania, was born on January 10, 1744 in Philadelphia Pennsylvania, and served as the eighth President of the Confederacy of the United States of America from November 3, 1783 until November 29, 1784. While in Office he accepted the resignation of commission from his old boss, George Washington; and as President, Mifflin also signed the ratification of the Treaty of Paris on January 14, 1784. On behalf of Pennsylvania, Thomas Mifflin was a signer of the US Constitution.
Mifflin began the Revolutionary War as a Major and an aide to George Washington, who soon after had him appointed to be the Army’s first Quartermaster General, by order of the Continental Congress, on August 14, 1775. He resumed battlefield duties simultaneous with that position, and graduated to Brigadier General. He held various Pennsylvania Public Offices, including that of its President when the titled was transmuted to Governor of the State of Pennsylvania in 1790, and continued as Governor until 1799. He died on January 20, 1800.
9. Richard Henry Lee, signer of the Declaration of Independence and of the Articles of Confederation for the State of Virginia, was born on January 20, 1732 in Westmoreland County, Virginia, and served as the ninth President of the Confederacy of the United States of America from November 30, 1784 to November 22, 1785. After being briefly a Justice of the Peace in 1757, Lee was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1758, and remained there until 1775; leaving that office because he became a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1775, serving until 1779.
On June 7, 1776, his resolution stating “that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, Free and Independent States” made its way into the Declaration of Independence. And it was later cited by the Southern States for justification of secession from the Union that led to the Civil War of 1861-1865. Lee finished his career in politics as a US Senator for Virginia, serving from March 4, 1789 until October 8, 1792. Lee died on June 19, 1794.
10. John Hancock served a second time, serving this time as the tenth President of the Confederacy of the United States of America from circa November 22, 1785 to June 6, 1786.
11. Nathaniel Gorham, a signer of the US Constitution, was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts on May 27, 1738, and served as the eleventh President of the Confederacy of the United States of America from June 6, 1786 to February 1, 1787. Under his watch, the Confederacy of the United States was almost lost, as Republicans had to quash the demand by those in Congress who took it upon themselves to push the notion that America become a monarchy under foreign royalty: either the brother of Frederick II of Prussia, Prince Henry; or the Scottish Stuart Royal and rebel leader, Prince Charlie. Nathaniel Gorham, though of Massachusetts, also took the same line as Richard Henry Lee, that the individual states ought to be free to plot their own courses as if individual nation-states allied with one another, rather than as a merged and unified singular nation with a strong unifying central government. Concerns about these events were raised by Joseph Story in his “Commentaries on the US Constitution”.
In 1833, in Justice Joseph Story's Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States. § 1473
“ It is indispensible too, that the president should be a natural born citizen of the United States; or a citizen at the adoption of the constitution, and for 14 years before his election. This permission of a naturalized citizen [to speak of those to who fought the Revolutionary War] to become President is an exception from the great fundamental policy of all governments, to exclude foreign influence from their executive councils and duties. It was doubtless introduced (for it has now become by lapse of time merely nominal, and will soon become wholly extinct) out of respect to those distinguished revolutionary patriots who were born in a foreign land, and yet had entitled themselves to high honors in their adopted country. A positive exclusion of them from the office would have been unjust to their merits and painful to their sensibilities.
But the general propriety of the exclusion of foreigners, in common cases, will scarcely be doubted by any sound statesman. It cuts off all chances for ambitious foreigners, who might otherwise be intriguing for the office; and interposes a barrier against those corrupt interferences of foreign governments in executive elections, which have inflicted the most serious evils upon the elective monarchies of Europe. Germany, Poland, and even the pontificate of Rome, are sad, but instructive examples of the enduring mischiefs arising from this source.”
See Story’s bio: http://www.constitution.org/js/js_001.htm
Nathaniel Gorham died on June 11, 1796.
12. Arthur St. Clair was born in Thurso, Scotland, on March 23, 1734, and became the twelfth President of the Confederacy of the United States from February 2, 1787 until January 2, 1788. As a Scot, Arthur St. Clair became a British Army officer. While on tour of duty in Boston, Massachusetts, he met and married a well-off Colonial of Boston Society, Phoebe, and resigned his commission as a lieutenant in 1762. He and his wife moved to a 400 acre homestead in Pennsylvania on the money offered as a gift by his father-in-law, the Governor of Massachusetts, Governor Bowdoin. At the outbreak of the Revolution, he was appointed to the rank of Colonel by the continental Congress, and led a regiment, fighting in Canada during 1775, and actions such as Trenton and Princeton, New Jersey in 1776-1777. He faced disgrace when as a brigadier general; he yielded and withdrew from Fort Ticonderoga in the Spring of 1777, letting it fall to the British. In 1785, he was elected to the Congress of the Confederacy for Pennsylvania’s representation. Considering that his appointment to the Presidency on February 2, 1787 followed the debate as to whether to begin a Scottish /Stuart monarchy in America, the appointment of Arthur St. Clair was a curious choice. He would also go on to suffer a massacre of nearly half his 1400 man force in an expedition against the Indians, resign his commission for that loss, become Governor of the Northwest Territories, and was a founder of the city of Cincinnati, Ohio. He was never recompensed for his costs as Governor of the Northwest Territories, and lost most of his land in order to pay his debts. Arthur St. Clair died on August 31, 1818.
It was because of (or primarily because of) St. Clair that the proviso of the Presidential Eligibility Clause WAS INCLUDED INTO THE US CONSTITUTION.
In 1762 he became married into Massachusetts legience, and at the out break of war, he was 14 years a resident on July 04 of 1776, and a Citizen of Massachusetts. He is the only one of the Legislative Presidents who was foreign born prior to the Declaration of Independence and before and after the US Constitution, which specific 2.1.5 clause reads:
No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.
13. Cyrus Griffin, the thirteenth and last President of the United States of the Confederacy, was born in Farnham, Virginia on July 16, 1749, served as President from January 22, 1788 to March 4, 1789, when the US Constitution was ratified, and George Washington became the first President of the (new) Republic of the United States of America.
Cyrus Griffin had received his Law Degree at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and eloped with the Christina Stewart, the daughter of James Stewart, Earl of Traquair. In 1774, and until at least 1777, Cyrus Griffin was living in Virginia practicing law as an attorney. He was in public office for Virginia and to the Continental Congress from 1778 to 1781, and then assumed the career of a Circuit Judge until his election on January 22, 1788. Following his stepping aside for George Washington, he was appointed a District Judge by George Washington, and remained so until his death. He judicially oversaw the Creek Nation, and also specialized in Maritime Laws, at one point in his career was also overseeing cases of the Admiralty. Cyrus Griffin died on December 14, 1810.
So armed with this knowledge, can anyone truly say that after the Founders who were citizens at least 14 years at the time of July 04, 1776, etc, when these passed away, those coming later born with foreign fathers who never naturalized to the USA as its citizens with legience, that these were allowed by the Constitution to be called Natural Born Citizens? Don't forget to cite US Supreme Court Case Law if you should say yes. Not Circuit Court...US Supreme Court Case Decisions. In each one, the father must always be a US Citizen with the child born on US Sovereign Soil to be a Natural Born Citizen in US Supreme Court Case Law.
Obama says his father was a Kenyan National his entire life and never a US Citizen. That automatically disqualifies him for NOT having sole legience and sole citizenship to the USA at birth, not to mention that he held two other international citizenships from birth to age 23, only the British Commonwealth Citizenship having been known to expire...while Kenya's Parliament infers his Kenyan Citizenship still exists (twice in its records of Parliament). You might also wish to re-read the emboldened print I posted on January 12, 2011 of John Locke's Second Treatise of Government Chapter 6 ('Of Paternal Power'): Locke being a major influence on the Founders in regards to the NBC Clause. .
So what is the moral, besides the history lesson here? Don't get drunked down by Liberalism...turnaround.
And don't forget, "nothing but the blood of Jesus" will wash away your sins if you wish to become new and born again, (John 3:16; Romans 10:9-10, 13), forsaking and breaking this world's deceptive influences upon your life It is in Christ Jesus, "In whom we have redemption THROUGH HIS BLOOD, even the forgiveness of sins:" (Colossians 1:14). Amen.