Fourteen American Presidents before George Washington
Thursday, January 5 – Sunday, April 29, 2012
If any American child is asked who the country’s first president was, the answer is almost sure to be “George Washington.” But some historians argue that there were in fact no fewer than fourteen men who served as president—and one of them twice— before “the father of the country” took office on April 30, 1789.
In 1774 the American colonists were already so angry about Britain’s taxes that a group of fifty-six protesters, representing twelve of the thirteen colonies, met in Philadelphia to organize a boycott. This first Continental Congress elected as its president Peyton Randolph, the Attorney General of the colony of Virginia, and adjourned after eight weeks. A second Congress met in 1775 after the battles of Lexington and Concord had already initiated the American Revolutionary War, and during that session the colonies made the historic decision to break with Britain and establish themselves as an independent country. On July 4th, 1776, the Congress issued the Declaration of Independence, signed first and most flamboyantly by the two-time president of the Congress John Hancock.
A third Continental Congress, known as the Confederation Congress, met from 1781 to 1789 to guide the newly independent nation through the final stage of the Revolutionary War and establish its government. In all, fourteen patriots presided over the three assemblies (Hancock served in 1777 and for a second term in 1785) before General George Washington was elected the first President of the United States of American under the U.S. Constitution.
The Karpeles Museum will present unique documents and manuscript material from the tumultuous times of these three congresses.
The Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum is located at 94 Broadway, across from City Hall, in the City of Newburgh. The Karpeles Museums are a national chain with nine in the U.S., specializing in the preservation and display of original, historically significant documents and manuscripts. Museum Hours: Thu.-Sat., 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday, 12 to 4 p.m. Admission is always free.
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Image: Historical Society of Pennsylvania, via the US Library of Congress