Debunked: 'Presidents' before George Washington

Josh Heuer

Active Member
Claim: There were 8 presidents of the United States before George Washington.

Examples:
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/582763/posts
(The site goes on to list these folks)

Another example:
http://www.fourwinds10.net/siterun_data/government/us_constitution/news.php?q=1244133512
Which is practically the same thing, almost word for word.

And this:
http://www.constitution.org/hist/first8pres.htm
Which has the same message, but isn't directly copied.

So what's incorrect with these claims?
Debunk:
Well, there are a couple key points to keep in mind.

First, the 'United States' was not a nation of united states yet. In it's infancy, it was a confederate nation, which adopted the Articles of Confederation as a sort of agreement between the 13 states, or colonies. It was the original constitution, and it was drafted by the Continental Congress. They were the governing body of delegates that represented each of the states/colonies as an early form of government.

Second, the president of Continental Congress is NOT the same position as president of the United States. That's part of where the confusion comes in. It's like comparing apples and oranges; presidents and prime ministers; different leaders of different types of government.

So these folks were the presidents of Continental Congress, which is not the same as what out current president is (beginning with Washington, who literally was our first president under the new Constitution).

The problem I suppose comes in people's different levels of knowledge concerning early American history. In a typical high school, at least when I went, there was little/no mention of early American history prior to the American Revolution, and this period of time (between then and George Washington becoming president under the new constitution) was not even covered.

Hopefully more people than not realize this claim as bunk without having to do any research.
 

NoParty

Senior Member
Snopes weighed in on this 7 or 8 years ago, and I must admit, I was a little disappointed by
the Mikkelsons' uncharacteristically simplistic take.

In short, the new Constitution--haggled over for months in Philadelphia in 1787--brought a national re-boot
in 1789. Many find it easier to act as if that's when U.S. history "really" starts. It doesn't.
We were not a coherent "nation" either before 1789 nor after…but it's as good a date as any to draw a line.
Was the name "United States" ever used before 1789? Yes. Was the term "President of the United States"
ever used before 1789? Yes. Was Hanson ever referred to as the "President of the United States in Congress Assembled"
or "President of the United States" for short? Yes.
For these and other reasons, an argument can be made that "Hanson was the first President of the United States"
but whether he was or wasn't is really largely a matter of semantics and when one chooses to believe
that the "United States" became the "United States."
I'm pretty familiar with the history, and don't take a side either way…(as I don't really give a damn)
but I would argue that calling it outright bunk requires making some definitive statements about our
history that I wouldn't be comfortable making. But I pick my battles: whether someone claims
"Washington was the first President of the United States" or that he wasn't, I let 'em believe what they want.
 

deirdre

Moderator
Staff member
this is what I was gonna say. the delegates elect their "president", not the public.
 

Gary Cook

Active Member
Claim: There were 8 presidents of the United States before George Washington.

Examples:
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/582763/posts
(The site goes on to list these folks)

Another example:
http://www.fourwinds10.net/siterun_data/government/us_constitution/news.php?q=1244133512
Which is practically the same thing, almost word for word.

And this:
http://www.constitution.org/hist/first8pres.htm
Which has the same message, but isn't directly copied.

So what's incorrect with these claims?
Debunk:
Well, there are a couple key points to keep in mind.

First, the 'United States' was not a nation of united states yet. In it's infancy, it was a confederate nation, which adopted the Articles of Confederation as a sort of agreement between the 13 states, or colonies. It was the original constitution, and it was drafted by the Continental Congress. They were the governing body of delegates that represented each of the states/colonies as an early form of government.

Second, the president of Continental Congress is NOT the same position as president of the United States. That's part of where the confusion comes in. It's like comparing apples and oranges; presidents and prime ministers; different leaders of different types of government.

So these folks were the presidents of Continental Congress, which is not the same as what out current president is (beginning with Washington, who literally was our first president under the new Constitution).

The problem I suppose comes in people's different levels of knowledge concerning early American history. In a typical high school, at least when I went, there was little/no mention of early American history prior to the American Revolution, and this period of time (between then and George Washington becoming president under the new constitution) was not even covered.

Hopefully more people than not realize this claim as bunk without having to do any research.
Some peopl would argue that your figure is also wrong because there is again another USA that is more recently been formed and some of the Presidents of that corporation are included in your list.

 

solrey

Senior Member
Some peopl would argue that your figure is also wrong because there is again another USA that is more recently been formed and some of the Presidents of that corporation are included in your list.

The only thing the Organic Act of 1871 did was to consolidate the towns of Georgetown and Washington with Washington County under one local government to form the District of Columbia. The District of Columbia is a territory similar to the Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico in that they have a locally elected government but no representation in congress, just a non-voting observer. The Organic Act of 1871 established a new territory not a new country. The District of Columbia is "incorporated" the same as any local government is a "municipal corporation" that basically makes it a legal entity, it does not mean Corp. USA. It is a "body corporate for municipal purposes". I think any lawyer would get a good laugh over the Act of 1871 conspiracy.

http://www.nikolasschiller.com/blog/index.php/archives/2009/01/30/2215/
 

Gary Cook

Active Member
The only thing the Organic Act of 1871 did was to consolidate the towns of Georgetown and Washington with Washington County under one local government to form the District of Columbia. The District of Columbia is a territory similar to the Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico in that they have a locally elected government but no representation in congress, just a non-voting observer. The Organic Act of 1871 established a new territory not a new country. The District of Columbia is "incorporated" the same as any local government is a "municipal corporation" that basically makes it a legal entity, it does not mean Corp. USA. It is a "body corporate for municipal purposes". I think any lawyer would get a good laugh over the Act of 1871 conspiracy.
It is a matter of opinion. Lawyers would laugh because people often laugh to dismiss something. Regardless if it is true or not. Anyway I am not supporting that information just saying that its what some people believe. Although I think it is somewhat warranted. A corporation is a corporation. Even if it wants to be known as a "corporate sole". And if the government is not a corporation it would be the only organisation that was incorporated but not a business. Judging this "conspiracy" just based on this one element is taking it out of context. It seems to be some kind of franchise. Even the Australian government is a registered business in America and has a different emblem than the original government there. That's not a conspiracy. Its a fact.

http://www.hangthebankers.com/are-corporations-masquerading-as-government-in-australia-world-wide/

Extracting the parts of the claim of the global government conspiracy and extracting the part about America and calling it false in its isolation is literally taking it out of context.
 
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WeedWhacker

Senior Member
Government as a "corporation"....hmmm. Interesting concept to ponder...

I'm not an attorney and maybe this has been explored already?
 

solrey

Senior Member
It is a matter of opinion. Lawyers would laugh because people often laugh to dismiss something. Regardless if it is true or not. Anyway I am not supporting that information just saying that its what some people believe. Although I think it is somewhat warranted. A corporation is a corporation. Even if it wants to be known as a "corporate sole". And if the government is not a corporation it would be the only organisation that was incorporated but not a business. Judging this "conspiracy" just based on this one element is taking it out of context. It seems to be some kind of franchise. Even the Australian government is a registered business in America and has a different emblem than the original government there. That's not a conspiracy. Its a fact.

http://www.hangthebankers.com/are-corporations-masquerading-as-government-in-australia-world-wide/

Extracting the parts of the claim of the global government conspiracy and extracting the part about America and calling it false in its isolation is literally taking it out of context.
No, it's not a matter of opinion, it's a matter of legal definition. They don't understand what a 'municipal corporation' actually means. Nearly ALL cities and towns in the US are municipal corporations. It's the logical fallacy of; I don't understand therefore... conspiracy!

http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Municipal+Corporation

And please stop exaggerating what was said, I did not say a word about any alleged broader conspiracy, I simply addressed some falsehoods around the Act of 1871. Having said that, of course other countries like Australia are legal entities for the purpose of conducting business with both the public and private sectors, that does not mean they are a "registered business". :rolleyes:
 

Soulfly

Banned
Banned
No, it's not a matter of opinion, it's a matter of legal definition. They don't understand what a 'municipal corporation' actually means. Nearly ALL cities and towns in the US are municipal corporations. It's the logical fallacy of; I don't understand therefore... conspiracy!

http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Municipal Corporation

And please stop exaggerating what was said, I did not say a word about any alleged broader conspiracy, I simply addressed some falsehoods around the Act of 1871. Having said that, of course other countries like Australia are legal entities for the purpose of conducting business with both the public and private sectors, that does not mean they are a "registered business". :rolleyes:
Do unincorporated areas pertain to this?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unincorporated_area
 

Gary Cook

Active Member
No, it's not a matter of opinion, it's a matter of legal definition. They don't understand what a 'municipal corporation' actually means. Nearly ALL cities and towns in the US are municipal corporations. It's the logical fallacy of; I don't understand therefore... conspiracy!

http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Municipal Corporation

And please stop exaggerating what was said, I did not say a word about any alleged broader conspiracy, I simply addressed some falsehoods around the Act of 1871. Having said that, of course other countries like Australia are legal entities for the purpose of conducting business with both the public and private sectors, that does not mean they are a "registered business". :rolleyes:
They are a registered business if they are incorporated. The telling thing is that when you go to court you face the registered version of the business. It is good you know what a Municipal corporation is but that doesnt mean the government isnt a corporation. One that has different rules of governance than the one in the original charter.

It may not seem like a big thing to you but somebody who has had to face this entity in court would disagree.

Legal is just semantics as its only opinion. So legal definitions have little bearing on this. The two entity's even have different names.

Anyway it is only a point of contention. As something as a potential thing. I am not saying OP is wrong as such. Its just the definition may also be incorrect.
 
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WeedWhacker

Senior Member
of course!
Here's another thing to consider about the idea that a corporation is a "person" (I'm referencing claims made in the past by certain American politicians).

A person who commits manslaughter is subject to criminal prosecution. Ergo, if a "corporation" is shown to have contributed, however tangentially, to the death of a human, then is not that "corporation" (if defined as a "person") also liable??

I'm just free-balling here. Let's see if this ever hits the headlines, eh??
 

deirdre

Moderator
Staff member
Here's another thing to consider about the idea that a corporation is a "person" (I'm referencing claims made in the past by certain American politicians).

A person who commits manslaughter is subject to criminal prosecution. Ergo, if a "corporation" is shown to have contributed, however tangentially, to the death of a human, then is not that "corporation" (if defined as a "person") also liable??

I'm just free-balling here. Let's see if this ever hits the headlines, eh??
it/they are held liable, but its kinda hard to lock up a made up entity. but the peoples who make up the person (the corp) cant be held personally liable unless they are proven personally negligent ( I think ) .

either way George Washington was the first US President.

edit added: http://www.sagepub.com/lippmanccl2e/study/features/11peopleVoneil.pdf
CAN A CORPORATION BE GUILTY OFMURDER?
 

Gary Cook

Active Member
of course! otherwise they might be personally liable for their actions. ;)
It is fiercely debated. With good points on both sides and I cant claim to know the answers myself but there are merits for the "conspiracy".

Anyway like I said. It is only a point of contention with the number of Presidents in the debunking but the debunker above has debunked the original number in the claim to be fair.
 

deirdre

Moderator
Staff member
It is fiercely debated. With good points on both sides and I cant claim to know the answers myself but there are merits for the "conspiracy".

Anyway like I said. It is only a point of contention with the number of Presidents in the debunking but the debunker above has debunked the original number in the claim to be fair.
I'm not sure I'm seeing where a 'conspiracy' is. here. I don't think people arguing semantics is a conspiracy. or is it?
 

Gary Cook

Active Member
I'm not sure I'm seeing where a 'conspiracy' is. here. I don't think people arguing semantics is a conspiracy. or is it?
Some "debubkers" would say that there is a big difference between having a registered company and being the registered company. I agree with that to a degree but then again in my experince governments claim to be a "corporate sole", certainly in the UK. Which is a corporation but not a corporation. If this is not all semantics I dont know what is.

Not digressing away from the original thread claims. Just contenting the amount of presidents. Prob is its a complicated issue. Beyond me to be honest.
 

deirdre

Moderator
Staff member
Some "debubkers" would say that there is a big difference between having a registered company and being the registered company. I agree with that to a degree but then again in my experince governments claim to be a "corporate sole", certainly in the UK. Which is a corporation but not a corporation. If this is not all semantics I dont know what is.

Not digressing away from the original thread claims. Just contenting the amount of presidents. Prob is its a complicated issue. Beyond me to be honest.
yea men disagree on all sorts of stuff. just wondering what the 'conspiracy' associated with this is.
 

WeedWhacker

Senior Member
I want to add, to relate to the first OP:

The term and definition of "President" of the United States is defined by the Constitution. Written several years after the "Revolutionary War", or aka the "War of Independence".

The U.S. Constitution is, however, a 'fluid' document, in the sense that it can be interpreted and even amended.

This is what makes it "imperfect" at the same time, co-incidentally, one of the best 'outlines' for a democratic government yet devised by Humans.

There exist other great documents of course.
 

Gary Cook

Active Member
yea men disagree on all sorts of stuff. just wondering what the 'conspiracy' associated with this is.
Basically that government is a corporation and has no right making laws etc. But there are a few. Like, government is a corporation and people are its product.

I would say its all semantics. Its both correct and incorrect.

I LOL'ed about the men comment. We let our egos supersede our critical thinking sometimes. Biological reasons maybe.
 

Gary Cook

Active Member
I want to add, to relate to the first OP:

The term and definition of "President" of the United States is defined by the Constitution. Written several years after the "Revolutionary War", or aka the "War of Independence".

The U.S. Constitution is, however, a 'fluid' document, in the sense that it can be interpreted and even amended.

This is what makes it "imperfect" at the same time, co-incidentally, one of the best 'outlines' for a democratic government yet devised by Humans.

There exist other great documents of course.
Some people would argue that President of America and President of a corporation is the same thing. I dont really have an opinion on that related to the thread but like I said I would contend the semantics of the number of presidents in a, 'can we be sure' -kind of way.

Yes it was almost perfect. Hence why America was one of the best nations on Earth for awhile. Too convoluted still but thats a story for another forum perhaps. :p
 
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WeedWhacker

Senior Member
yea men disagree on all sorts of stuff.
Hence why some (hetero) men HATE the idea of a Matriarchal society arrangement. ;)

Frankly, I'd enjoy a " Drag-Queen-'archal' " (Is that a term? I made it up) arrangement because, well....it would be Fabulous!

:D

 

Gary Cook

Active Member
Hence why some (hetero) men HATE the idea of a Matriarchal society arrangement. ;)

Frankly, I'd enjoy a " Drag-Queen-'archal' " (Is that a term? I made it up) arrangement because, well....it would be Fabulous!

:D

That is not a bad point in terms of balancing the male and female archetypes in society better but I think we may get told off for going off-topic again and as per usual I seem to be the ring-leader. =)
 

WeedWhacker

Senior Member
...we may get told off for going off-topic again...
Every now and then, maybe a little digression can be allowed? When it is all in good fun.

Back to topic: I believe the notion of "8 Presidents before..." is largely moot, when considering the Constitution. Of course, this off the top of my head, so please correct me if I'm wrong.
 

Pete Tar

Senior Member
Are there any examples of this?
 

Gary Cook

Active Member
As in, them conducting business under martial law?
(ie. the purpose of the definition)
Not meaning to be a jerk but thats too off-topic. I would suggest on replying to the original poster or if anybody address' my contention and link supporting then we focus on the entity of government itself and if it was the same entity in question. Although that is about the strength of the info I have. what I have already presented.

I would be happy to answer that question elsewhere but I dont have any examples immediately to hand.
 

WeedWhacker

Senior Member
A corporation registered in Delaware.
Gary, in the USA most corporations tend to register their articles of incorporation in the State of Delaware. It has to do with specific tax statues in that State. Again, I am not an attorney, but this is something I've seen referenced many times. I suppose a bit of online research will help illuminate this fact?

ETA: The USA can seem confusing, with the various laws that are applied within a state, versus the "federal" statutes...I live here, and it is ALWAYS a "battle" of conversation!!

ETA2: I just finished watching the movie "Wolf of Wall Street" and...although I understood the "point" of selling "bad" products under the guise of claiming they are "good"? I tend to think that this is very, very common in Human history. The circus "Carny", as one example. This is why ALL claims that we may encounter, whether online or on 'TV', should be given a "fact check and shake" each and every time!!
 
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Gary Cook

Active Member
Gary, in the USA most corporations tend to register their articles of incorporation in the State of Delaware. It has to do with specific tax statues in that State. Again, I am not an attorney, but this is something I've seen referenced many times. I suppose a bit online research will help illuminate this fact?
Doing some research now. Of course it can be argued if I set up a corporation would I then be a corporation myself? Or course not. But If I was paid by the corporation I would technically be an agent of the Corporation. Apparently there is more than one constitution too. As in the above claims about it.

Although, I am not sure the record I included was the registration in question. there are others there too that look legit like the incorporation of the CIA and IRS but they look more legit than the one for the USA. That could be a corporation just with the same name, I guess.

I think I would like to wait for the OP of the thread to reply before I do again otherwise it just seems like an assault or battle of attrition.
 

Josh Heuer

Active Member
The whole underlying theme of my OP is that there is some sort of 'they're not telling you everything, it's there buried in the history books but it's covered up/being buried for X purpose' mentality when it comes to this particular claim.
I think the one thing to take from this all is, if you are interested in this sort of topic (American history specifically, or in whatever topic it may be in similar cases), then just take the time to learn! If someone says something off the cuff like 'yeah, there were 8 presidents before Washington...' then take the time to break it down and find whatever truth there may be in that.
 

WeedWhacker

Senior Member
The whole underlying theme of my OP is that there is some sort of 'they're not telling you everything, it's there buried in the history books but it's covered up/being buried for X purpose' mentality when it comes to this particular claim.
I think the one thing to take from this all is, if you are interested in this sort of topic (American history specifically, or in whatever topic it may be in similar cases), then just take the time to learn! If someone says something off the cuff like 'yeah, there were 8 presidents before Washington...' then take the time to break it down and find whatever truth there may be in that.

I like and appreciate your attitude. Keeping a "sharp eye" is important, and is certainly the duty of any citizen in a free society.
 

GA Anderson

New Member
...edited... is really largely a matter of semantics and when one chooses to believe that the "United States" became the "United States."
I'm pretty familiar with the history, and don't take a side either way…(as I don't really give a damn)
but I would argue that calling it outright bunk requires making some definitive statements about our
history that I wouldn't be comfortable making. But I pick my battles: whether someone claims
"Washington was the first President of the United States" or that he wasn't, I let 'em believe what they want.
But, in most declarations and conversations such as this, (Washington wasn't reallythe first), isn't context as important as "technicalities?"

I believe you are correct, the varying opinions could be laid in the arms of semantics - meaning either side could claim to be correct.

But, in the sense of context, there would seem to be ample evidence the President of the Continental Congress was not the same position as President of the United States. Even though the latter title was laid to the office prior to the birth of the Constitution, I think the debunk should be accepted because I would imagine the person being asked would see the question relative to the Constitution's President of the United States - not as one of those bar bets where you have to consider all the tricky angles before replying. ie. I can stick out my tongue and touch my nose - can you?

Just sayin'

GA
 

WeedWhacker

Senior Member
...could be laid in the arms of semantics - meaning either side could claim to be correct.
Of course, though....when science is brought in...only "ONE" (side) will be shown to be correct. (N'est pas?)

(So long, and THANKS! for all the fish!!)
 
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GA Anderson

New Member
Of course, though....when science is brought in...only "ONE" (side) will be shown to be correct. (N'est pas?)

(So long, and THANKS! for all the fish!!)
Thanks for commenting on my very first post here... but, I am at a loss to see where science has any place at all in this question. So no, it isn't so.

GA
 

Tuck

New Member
First, the 'United States' was not a nation of united states yet.
It was indeed a nation. Confederation of States means exactly the same thing as United States. The primary reason for the Constitutional government was to empower the new nation to raise revenue and regulate commerce between the states.
 
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