Born in Charles County, Maryland, on April 3, 1715, John Hanson became one of the strongest colonial advocates of independence. While serving in the Maryland Assembly from 1757 to 1773 he was active in raising troops and providing arms. Hanson served as a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1779, where he helped to resolve the western lands issue, thereby facilitating the ratification of the Articles of Confederation.
From 1781 to 1782 he was "President of the United States in Congress Assembled" under the Articles of Confederation. As the presiding officer of Congress, Hanson was responsible for initiating a number of programs that helped American gain a world position. During his tenure the first consular service was established, a post office department was initiated, a national bank was chartered, progress was made towards taking the first census, and a uniform system of coinage was adopted. As "President," Hanson also signed a treaty with Holland affirming the indebtedness of the United States for a loan from that country. In addition, he signed all laws, regulations, official papers, and letters.