The first of these Presidents of the United States “In Congress Assembled” was Samuel Huntingdon[i] fourth of a family of ten originally from Norwich Massachusetts and born in 1731 to prosperous farming stock in Scotland Parish, Connecticut. His portrait is above. He is so un-regarded nowadays that the only picture I could find was this one from Wikipedia. One feels that even if he was forgotten – or as I contend discounted and airbrushed out of history – as a Signer of the Declaration of Independence he might have warranted an oil painting somewhere. Doubtless if a reader knows of such they will let me know and I can change it.
He went to Yale where his father had hoped that he might make a minister of religion like so many of his family but instead he chose to be a lawyer. He practised in Connecticut where he became the King’s Attorney for Connecticut.
A choice of profession somewhat at odds with the assertions that he was both ill educated and no great speaker. This whole history has the feeling that some later hand has done its best to belittle Samuel and devalue his contribution to the Republic.
He was a signer of the Declaration of Independence which indicates at the least a central role in revolutionary politics and a certain courage too.
During his term of Presidency of the Continental Congress 1779-1781 he needed all his diplomatic cajoling and legal deal making skills to get the states to meet their promised quotas of men and provisions and this he managed successfully. The role had originally been seen as largely ceremonial, but needs meant he required to deal with masses of correspondence and spent huge amounts of time cajoling the States to stump up cash and ratify deals. Again facts at odds with the idea of his being a poor speaker and ill educated.
He was a man who was very good at everything he did.
After his term as President he returned to Connecticut as Governor where he stayed until he died in 1796. He had no great illustrious descents although a nephew adopted as a son becomes governor of Ohio.
So then, we have a signer (a signer for goodness sake!) of the Declaration who worked tirelessly and successfully for the Republic in those crucial days when it was most at risk, at a cost to himself of his health, being shoved into the shadows of history, and whose blood does not rush through the veins of Obama or indeed any post constitutional leaders. Perhaps if others know different they can tell me.
Perhaps it’s just bad luck.
Perhaps. Let’s see what happened to number two.
[i] The Huntington Homestead http://huntingtonhomestead.org
Copyright David Macadam 2010