Sunday, February 15, 2009

John Hanson

As part of the PTAP team's efforts, we have done some work at Mulberry Grove, the home of John Hanson about one mile south of Port Tobacco. John Hanson was the first president of the United States under the Articles of Confederation (before adoption of the Constitution). I've had the opportunity to talk to people who are interested in researching and memorializing John Hanson, including Ed Edelen (owner of Mulberry Grove) and John Cummings.

This being Sunday, a day on which many Americans think about religion, and Monday being Presidents' Day, a holiday through which we commemorate the service to country of a small group of individuals and reaffirm our confidence in the American political system, a few words about John Hanson and his grandfather seem appropriate.

John Cummings sent me the following information that he recently unearthed, about which I'll say a few things by way of introduction. The correspondence to which Mr. Cummings refers below was between Hans and John Hanson in Maryland to authorities in England. As Mr. Cummings points out, the position of vestryman identifies John Hanson the Elder as a person of wealth and prestige in the community. Both Hansons accept, seemingly without question, the indivisible relationship between the Church of England and the Crown (many, but not all, colonists accepted this relationship without question). It remains for scholars to examine, and reexamine, how the ideas and actions of John Hanson the Elder influenced the views of his better known descendant.


From John Cummings:

Here are some recent discoveries from my search involving religious records from the Church of England to include correspondence with Council and Burgesses to the King, Bishops and Clergy of the 1600's to the 1700's.

Correspondences to the Church of England from Hans Hanson and records of John Hanson (Grandfather to President John Hanson) during the late 1600's are unison. Both John Hanson and Hans Hanson are Vestrymen during the same years - Hans at Kent and John at Port Tobacco. Grandfather John Hanson's position as a Vestryman in Port Tobacco was the furthest
away from an indentured servant with a standing considered to be one of wealth in one the most respectable positions in the Provence of Maryland.

After the discovery, I asked the Lambeth Palace Library in London to send me their interpretation as confirmation to my findings. The following records pertain to Hans Hanson and John Hanson (Grandfather to President John Hanson).

Hans Hanson's name appears at FP II. 63 (Fulham Papers) in an address of Council and Burgesses to the King, appealing for approval of An Act for the Service of Almighty God and the Establishment of the Protestant Religion within this Province [1696] (the Act outlines: Book of Common Prayer to be used in all churches. The Church of England to enjoy all the rights and privileges that she has under the laws of England. Inhabitants of province to enjoy all rights and privileges secured to subjects by laws of England. Clergy to be supported by a tax of 40 lb.
of tobacco per poll, in lieu of tithes. Vestry constituted a body corporate. Register to be kept. Table of marriages posted. Vestrymen to take oaths of allegiance and supremacy. Wardens to maintain church buildings. Fine of 5,000 lb. tobacco for minister or magistrate performing marriage within prohibited degrees).

He appears again at FP II. 66, which is simply a duplicate of the same document.

His name appears at FP II. 179, which is an address of burgesses to the King [1700], in support of an Establishment Act - substantially the same as the former Act noted above.

He appears again at FP II. 181, which is simply a duplicate of the same document.

Hans Hanson's name appears at FP III. 220 in an address of governor, council, and burgesses to the King [late seventeenth century]. Acknowledges gift of books and church furnishings and royal portrait.

Hans appears in FP III. 229, an account of parishes and taxables in Maryland, prepared for the Archbishop of Canterbury by Hen. [Henry] Denton, clerk of the Council. Gives names of vestrymen [late seventeenth century]. He appears listed under St Paul's parish, Kent County.

John Hanson is listed in the same document FP III. 227 under Port Tobacco as Vestry of the Church during the late 1600's.

The documents establish religious belief and community standing during the late 1600's. It is of my opinion that Grandfather John Hanson's standing in the community is the furthest away from an indentured servant and that of an established leader to the community and church.

Without doubt, pieces to the puzzle will eventually form a clear picture to the life of President John Hanson.

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