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John Hanson (sometimes referred to as John Hanson, Jr.) was a lawyer, merchant, and owner of a store and warehouse in Frederick Town. He served as sheriff of Charles County from 1750 to 1753. He was elected to the Lower House representing Charles County and served from 1757 to 1763 and again from 1765 to 1766 and from 1768 to 1769. He moved to Frederick County in 1769 and was deputy surveyor in Frederick County from 1769 to 1777. He also served as sheriff in Frederick County after 1771. In 1775 he chaired the Frederick County Committee of Observation. That same year he was elected treasurer of Frederick County. The following year he served as a commissioner to establish gunlock manufactory in Frederick Town. He was a loan officer, to receive subscriptions for loan of money to the Continental Congress and to the State of Maryland, appointed in 1777. He was appointed a judge on the Court of Appeals in 1778. He was a delegate to Continental Congress from 1780 to 1782. As part of the Maryland congressional delegation he signed the Articles of Confederation in 1781, causing their adoption and closing a prolonged debate over the disposition of western lands that had at last been resolved to Maryland’s satisfaction.

Hanson was elected president of Congress on November 5, 1781. One week later he considered resigning from this position because of poor health, family responsibilities, and the “irksome” qualities of the “form and ceremonies” required as president. He was urged to continue by fellow members who cited the great difficulty Congress would have selecting a replacement, since only seven states were then represented. Hanson decided to remain as president contingent upon his reelection as a delegate by the Maryland Assembly. On November 28, 1781, Maryland returned him as one of her four delegates, and he continued as president of Congress until November 4, 1782. He died November 15, 1783 at the home of his nephew, Thomas Hanson, at Oxon Hill, Prince George’s County.

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Credit: Maryland State Archives