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Was George Washington Really the First American President?

George Washington was the first official President of the United States, but Peyton Randolph was the first person to be elected as president of the Continental Congress. The First Continental Congress in 1774 was a meeting of delegates from each colony to discuss the so-called Intolerable Acts which had been passed by Britain following the Boston Tea Party.

The Second Continental Congress, which began in 1775, adopted the United States' Declaration of Independence in 1776.

While the Continental Congress is seen by historians as being the forerunner to the government of the United States, the position of president was largely ceremonial. The duties of the president were simply to be an impartial moderator of the meetings and bore no relation to the current office of the President of the United States.

More about Peyton Randolph:

  • Peyton Randolph died from what was likely a stroke in 1775, and so missed the Declaration of Independence by less than a year.

  • Thomas Jefferson and Peyton Randolph were first cousins.

  • Randolph was elected as the first president of the Continental Congress by a unanimous vote, and was reelected as the third president briefly, before being forced to resign due to ill health.

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