Samuel Huntington (July 16, 1731 – January 5, 1796)
First President of the United States?
was the man that some consider to be the first president of the
Huntington was born into a family of ten children. Three of his
brothers were sent to study theology at Yale, but Samuel’s parents
decided that his education would be of a different kind. They
apprenticed Samuel to become a cooper and enlisted his help in
running the family farm. However, a farmer was not what Samuel
wanted to be. At age twenty-two, he left the family farm in pursuit
of bigger dreams.
on becoming a lawyer, Samuel decided to teach himself all that he
would need to know. Samuel read the books contained in the personal
library of Scotland’s local minister, Ebenezer Devotion. After
studying law books from the collections of other friends in Windham,
Samuel passed the bar. He was admitted to practice in March of
Samuel had fallen in love and married Martha Devotion, daughter of
Ebenezer Devotion. Then, in 1765 Samuel made a great leap in his
legal career. He was appointed to the position of King’s attorney
for the colony of Connecticut. Nine years later, Samuel’s conscience
made him resign from this post and turn his back on what might have
been a bright and comfortable future in the employment of the King.
Instead, Samuel Huntington became a patriot and dedicated the rest
of his life to serving the public. In 1775 he was chosen to serve as
a delegate to the Continental Congress where he represented
Connecticut when Congress convened in January of 1776. On July 4,
1776, Samuel Huntington signed the
Independence casting his lot with the other fifty-five signers.
September 28, 1779, Samuel Huntington was elected 6th
president of Congress and began serving his term. During that term,
on March 1, 1781, the
Confederation became operative as the first Constitution of the
United States. The first section of the
Articles of Confederation designates our nation as the “United
States” for the first time. Some argue that this makes Samuel
Huntington the first president of the United States.
Huntington continued his public service by becoming chief justice of
the Supreme Court in 1784. In 1786 he became the 18th
governor of Connecticut and would hold that office until his death
almost ten years later. Samuel Huntington died in his 64th
year and was laid to rest in Norwichtown. The man who started life
as a farm boy kept some traits throughout his life that served him
well; he was reputed to be a practical man of few words who wrote in
a simple style. His quiet leadership and full commitment to the
American Revolution won him the respect of all.
Sources of Information:
George Kelsey Dreher, “Samuel Huntington, President of Congress
Longer Than Expected: A Narrative Essay on the Letters of Samuel
Huntington,” 1779-1781 (1995)
John and Katherine Bakeless, “Signers of the Declaration” (1969)
Pamphlet “Samuel Huntington" published by Governor Samuel Huntington
Noreen Gillespie, “Washington vs. Huntington?” Waterbury Republican,
January 27, 2004 p. 3A
Bill Stanley, “The First President of the U.S. Lived in Norwich, And
It’s Not Who You Think” The Day, January 5, 2003 p. D4.
of Connecticut Legal History