George Washington was the first President of the United States. However, he was not the first man to hold the title of "President". John Hanson was the first President of Congresschosen under the Articles of Confederation.
After the colonies achieved independence from Great Britain, but before the passage of the United States Constitution, the U.S. passed the Articles of Confederation, the first constitution, in 1781. The Articles formed a new federation called "The United States of America". Under this government, the states had more independence and control over their own governmental affairs. The Articles of Confederation were later replaced by the United States Constitution in 1788, setting up the government that still exists today.
While some claim that since John Hanson was President of Congress in the United States of America, in truth the job of President before the U.S. Constitution passed was entirely different. As President, John Hanson's job was to preside over Congress. The U.S. President in modern times does not preside over Congress at all and fulfills other administrative functions.
||Finding a Meaningful Role
Accustomed to life as a political and social activist, Eleanor Roosevelt initially worried about finding a meaningful role in her husband’s presidential administration. Though denied an official job in 1933, she became an unceasing advocate of New Deal social policies, investigating and reporting on the living and working conditions of Americans struggling through the Depression. She lobbied to create and expand programs and provide a wide variety of assistance to those in need. Her efforts paved the way for her own later activism and for future first ladies to play more direct roles in public policy.Her visit to a coal mine in Ohio in 1935 is pictured.
FDR’s New Deal broke with the past in a number of ways: for the first time in American history, the federal government assumed responsibility for providing jobs. New programmes came into being almost overnight to stabilise farm incomes, finance home ownership, regulate banks and the securities industry and bring affordable electricity to millions of homes. Not all of these innovations were successful. But none of them would have been possible without Roosevelt’s willingness to defy the economic orthodoxy of the day – then known in the US, as in Britain, as “the Treasury view” – which held that deficit spending was not just evil but ineffectual.
The US treasurer in 1937 was Henry Morgenthau, a gentleman apple farmer who, as historian Alan Brinkley points out, owed his job “largely to an accident of geography: he was a neighbour of Franklin Roosevelt in Dutchess County, New York.” Morgenthau wasn’t a total waste of space; he made a genuine pest of himself trying to get his friend to notice the Nazi Holocaust. But even his admirers would hesitate to call him a great economist, and after FDR’s landslide reelection in 1936, Morgenthau made cutting the federal deficit his personal cause.
By the fall of 1937, he’d convinced the president that though “the patient might scream a bit”, it was time to “throw away the crutches”. Not everyone agreed. Marriner Eccles, a Mormon banker who thought along the same lines as John Maynard Keynes, warned that the recovery was too fragile; so did the tiny handful of US economists who’d actually heard of Keynes. But Roosevelt, like David Cameron, believed that a balanced budget was a sign of fiscal virtue, and hundreds of government programmes were cut back or eliminated.