Good Samuel Huntington: First President Of The United States In Congress Assembled Argumentative Essay Example
Type of paper: Argumentative Essay
Topic: President, Politics, United States, Government, Congress, Nation, Countries, Assembly
Samuel Huntington was a true patriot and a Founding Father of the American Revolution. He signed the Declaration of Independence, served as a delegate to the Continental Congress and served as President of the Continental Congress from 1779 to 1781. Huntington was president of the Continental Congress in 1781 when the Articles of Confederation were ratified, which created a confederation of sovereign states. Some historians have argued that Huntington was the first president of the United States (Burgeson). However, this is not technically correct. He was the president of the United States in Congress Assembled, which was the formal name of the Congress of the Confederation. Therefore, he was president of the governmental body that was made up of representatives of the sovereign colonies. The United States as we know it, a republic with a strong federal government and an executive branch, did not exist at the time. It was the birth of a new nation, but it was a confederation, and not a republic. Samuel Huntington was the president of an administrative and governmental body that that existed before the United States Constitutions was ratified. There was no President of the United States under the Articles of Confederation. Therefore, Samuel Huntington should not be considered the first President of the United States.
Those who support the idea that Huntington was the first U.S. president point to him being president of the first U.S. nation, which was “united, could forge treaties with foreign nations, wage war and carry out all of the functions of a nation” (Burgeson). In fact, when George Washington would write letters to Huntington, he would address them to “Mr. President” (Burgeson). However, Washington was only referring to Huntington’s position as President of the Congress of the Confederation. He was, at the very least, the president of a new country, that was the precursor to the United States. There were sixteen presidents of the United States in Congress Assembled who governed an assembly that ran the confederacy, waged wars, and maintained unity between the sovereign states.
However, the fact that the confederacy at this time was made of sovereign states indicates that Huntington was a president of a Congressional assembly and not the first president of the United States. He led the assembly comprised of all the leaders of the different states. To be specific, the U.S. was a confederacy until 1787. A confederacy is voluntary and made up of sovereign governmental entities. A modern example of a confederation is the United Nations. The UN does not have power over member countries. Likewise, Huntington did not have power over the states that made up the U.S. confederation. In a federal government, such as the U.S. today, the central authority is the federal government, which has central authority. Therefore, there was no “president” of the United States. In 1787, during the first Constitution Convention the idea of a republic emerged, and delegates designed the presidency. George Washington was allowed to “design” some aspects of the presidency (“The Presidents House 6). Huntington had very few powers compared to Washington. Their positions were not similar. Huntington was involved in the drafting of the Constitution and was involved in created the republic with its centralized authority. Like other delegates of the Congress of the Confederacy, he realized the Articles of Confederation were too weak, and the U.S. needed a stronger federal government to tax, wage war and practice diplomatic negotiations with other countries. Huntington had no real power and his position was not what a person today would consider president of a nation. He was the president of an assembly.
Finally, many of the proponents that argue that Huntington was the first U.S. president are not serious historians, but “civic groups” and town officials in Scotland Connecticut in the area where Huntington was born. Many of them feel he is a forgotten Founding Father and deserves more historical attention. By using semantics, they argue that he was the first president of what is now the United States geographically. Technically, they may have something resembling an argument, but it falls apart under logical analysis and a closer examination of the history surrounding the years leading up to the Constitutional Convention. Huntington is an important figure in American history, and it is important to recognize what he did for our country, instead of focusing on clever semantics or misapplying titles. Samuel Huntington was the first President of the United States in Congress Assembled, not first President of the United States. Historically, these are two very different titles.
Burgeson, John. "The Case for Samuel Huntington: State Patriot Overlooked as First President?" Stamford Advocate. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2015.
Stanley, Bill. "Samuel Huntington." The Forgotten Founders. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Feb.
"The Presidents House." The President's House: Freedom and Slavery in the Making of a New Nation. NPA.GOV, n.d. Web.