On this date in 1731, Samuel Huntington was born. Due to his time as President under the Articles of Confederation, some actually consider him the first president of the United States.
Huntington was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation. He went on to serve as President of the Continental Congress from 1779-1781 and President of the United States in Congress Assembled in 1781. In his home state of Connecticut, he was appointed chief justice of the Supreme Court and elected governor in 1786, an office he held until his death in 1796.
Huntington was born in Windham, Connecticut, on July 16, 1731. He was largely self-educated. When he was 16, he was apprenticed to a cooper, but he educated himself with books from the library of Rev. Ebenezer Devotion along with texts borrowed from local lawyers. In 1754, he was admitted to the bar.
Huntington held a number of positions in the colonial government. In 1773, he was appointed to the Supreme Court of Errors — the supreme court for the colonies. He only held that position for a short time. He was removed when he spoke out against the passage of the Coercive Acts in 1774. In 1775, he was selected as one of Connecticut’s delegates to the Second Continental Congress.
When John Jay was named minister plenipotentiary to the Court of Spain and vacated his position as President of the Continental Congress, Huntington was elected to step into that role on September 28, 1779.
When the Articles of Confederation were ratified, he continued in that office with a new title, “President of the United States in Congress Assembled.” Since he was the first President of Congress under the first constitution of the U.S., some argue he was the first U.S. president. But the position was largely ceremonial and didn’t have any of the powers delegated to the president in the subsequent U.S. Constitution.
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