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Nathaniel Gorham was eighth President June 1786 through November 13, 1786.  Gorham was the eldest child of a family from Charlestown, Massachusetts who operated a packet boat and his education was minimal.  Despite attempts to talk up his background and lineage it was clear he was a self made man of humble background.  He was apprenticed to a Connecticut merchant before returning home to establish his own business at which he was a great success.  Despite no formal training he found a judicial career as a judge and also sat on the Governor’s Council.  He attended the Continental Congresses of 1782/3 & 1785/87.  He was elected President of the United States “In Congress Assembled” from June 1786 to January 1787.  He was to attend the 1788 Constitutional Congress as well where despite the fact that he worked hard and acted as Chairman of the Council of the Whole he seems to have had only minor influence

It was to be the summit of his achievement as he was not invited to serve in the Government he helped create.  His background and achievements were not what was thought necessary.

 Perhaps he was still too much the grocer for the United States establishment.

 Instead he and others decided to move into land speculation and bought from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts a vast tract of six million acres of unimproved ground in Western New York.  Unfortunately for the investors the value of the money they contracted the bargain in rose and they were unable to meet the payments.  Despite attempts to unload millions of acres in the eastern portion and handing back other millions Gorham went bankrupt.  He died six years later at 58 and was buried in Charleston Massachusetts. 

Copyright David Macadam 2010