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This month we celebrate America's Presidents. . Before the month ends we might also celebrate the 14 Presidents who served as America's Chief Executive officers before, during and after the Revolution, under the Articles of Confederation; i.e. before the Constitution.
These "Articles" were hastily put together by the state delegates, because America was about to go to war with Great Britain and we needed some sense of structure to unify and guide our efforts. America also needed a president with whom the other heads of state could relate. Each was elected by Congress and served for one year or less. The exception was John Hancock who served two terms, in 17 72 and 1774.
Because the British considered Hancock an instigator of the Revolution, they had put a price on his head, while repeatedly offering "pardons" to all other Colonists if they would lay down their arms.
These were treacherous times with "Loyalists" ( those Colonists still loyal to Great Britain ), living among the Revolutionaries. President Hancock might have been the most defiant of all. Just consider the size of John Hancock's signature on the Declaration of Independence, affixed while he had a price on his head!
Arthur St. Clair was another of those 14 presidents, having served as Washington's Adjutant General during the Revolution, they knew each other well. In 1787, St. Clair was the President to whom Washington, the Constitutional Convention Chairman, presented the approved draft of the great document for final review and distribution to the 13 states for ratification. Washington had been asked to chair the Convention, to ensure that the delegates kept moving toward a final draft,
Years before, in 1764, St. Clair and his family had settled in western Pennsylvania. After a decade of "Americanization," St. Clair, a native Scot and a retired British Officer, had become disgusted with the way in which the British were treating the Colonists. In 1774, St. Clair met with President Hancock and pledged his allegiance to America. He was commissioned a Colonel in the Continental Army, under Washington. One can only imagine St. Clair's meeting with Hancock, who was well aware that St. Clair was a cousin of Thomas Gage, commanding general of British forces in North America.
St. Clair's military strategies, recruiting and Brigade leadership were key factors in helping Washington overcome the British Army's early momentum during 1775,' 76 and '77 and he had distinguished himself in battles with the British in Canada, New Jersey and New York. He was promoted to Major General, and later became Washington's Adjutant General . After his presidency in 1787, St. Clair went on to become the first Federally-appointed Governor of the Northwest Territory, a position in which he served for 14 years, establishing a territorial justice system, appointing its justices and laying the groundwork for the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and parts of Minnesota. He founded and named Cincinnati as his headquarters and established Ohio's first ten counties, the last of which was Belmont County, where the Ohio Historical Society has recently dedicated a monument plaque in front of its courthouse in St. Clairsville, the county seat.
One of the largest counties he founded was in northeast Ohio, which he named after his friend, the famous Revolutionary artist Jonathon Trumbull. Bordered on the north by Lake Erie and extending from the Ohio River all the way to the Cuyahoga River, Trumbull County has yielded Cuyahoga County, and 12 other northeast Ohio counties. Metro-Cleveland also includes the Western Reserve, acreage originally reserved for Connecticut residents who lost their homes to the Revolution. In all, more than two dozen communities and landmarks are named for St. Clair from Pennsylvania to Minnesota.
Phillips authored the book , "Arthur St. Clair, The Invisible Patriot" and regularly updates a Facebook page on the subject. The book is available on Amazon. Com and Barnes & Noble stores.