Amidst America’s 39th annual recognition of Black History Month, an interesting revelation has arisen: Barack Obama is not the nation’s first Black President. A man by the name of John Hanson is said to have been America’s first documented president, contrary to popular belief that George Washington was the first man to hold this office.
Prior to the creation of The United States Constitution, the nation’s original thirteen colonies created and ratified The Articles of Confederation in 1781 under the jurisdiction of The Continental Congress.
Many believe that John Hanson, an African American man, served as president during the time the document was drafted in 1781 until 1782. This claim has taken the Internet by storm, as any president serving before George Washington and the Constitution will not be found in your average history book. And to think that America, with its tumultuous but subtly glorified past, once elected a Black President 82 years prior to the abolishment of slavery would be mind-blowing! Some may argue that it is too good to be true. That’s because it is.
There was, in fact, a black man named John Hanson who was a politician. However, he was NOT president of the United States and he served as senator in Liberia in the late 1800s. Another man, by the name of John Hanson, did indeed serve as President of the Continental Congress in the early 1780s but he was white. Even well-known activist Dick Gregory features an article on his website that further perpetuates this myth, claiming “a black man, a Moor, John Hanson was the first Black President of the United States”.