Who was the first black US president?

  • #26
Ivan Seeking
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How fitting that Obama announced that he would run from the same steps as did Lincoln.
 
  • #27
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It seems to me that Obama is just as much black as he is white. His father was black and his mother was white.
 
  • #28
Ivan Seeking
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It seems to me that Obama is just as much black as he is white. His father was black and his mother was white.
How about that. Again, rather poetic, don't you think? That we would have a candidate with his qualities and capabilities in addition to such a fairytale life-story is fortuitous beyond belief. I can't think of a greater American success story.
 
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  • #30
Ivan Seeking
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Obama considers himself to be black. Just making a wild guess here, but it may be because he looks black.
 
  • #31
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I have heard all kinds of explanations that purport to be more authoritative than the document itself. The Articles of Confederation were the law of the United States of America and they provide in Article IX for a president. Period. Well semicolon anyway.



Was that office more like our Speaker of the House? OK, then fine, the office of president was more like our Speaker of the House. But Hanson was president of the United States of America.
No, he was president of the United States in Congress.
 
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  • #32
Ivan Seeking
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Perhaps many of those who only call Obama black and not half black and half white are still under the spell of the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One-drop_theory.
We are talking two blacks here: There is ethnicity, and then there is skin color. Obama is generally considered to be black because of the color of his skin. But as you pointed out, he is only half Kenyan.
 
  • #33
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No, he was president of the United States in Congress.
No, he was president of the United States in Congress.


Articles of Confederation said:
The United States in Congress assembled shall have authority to appoint a committee, to sit in the recess of Congress, to be denominated 'A Committee of the States', and to consist of one delegate from each State; and to appoint such other committees and civil officers as may be necessary for managing the general affairs of the United States under their direction — to appoint one of their members to preside, provided that no person be allowed to serve in the office of president more than one year in any term of three years;
That ain't wikipedia, that's the Articles of Confederation.
 
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  • #34
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No, he was president of the United States in Congress.




That ain't wikipedia, that's the Articles of Confederation.
Jimmysnyder,
Sorry I didn't reply for so long. I wasn't blowing you off. My DSL went belly-up and I could never stay connected lone enough to do a search for the thread and then a response. I sent Bill Gates all my money, my first-born, and the rights to any lotteries I win and it's back to normal.

Anyway, the Articles of Confederation are the problem. Note in Article 2 that all the states retain their independence and are sovereign. They have only given up those things specifically enumerated. Thus, there is no nation to be president of. There is only what amounts to a standing committee - the states, united, assembled in congress (commas added by me).
 
  • #35
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Personally, I think that Virginia, a former slave state , electing a black governor is a bigger than Obama winning the presidency. And that occurred 20 years ago. My god! I never really understand why people say they want to live in a non-racist society, yet their are many people in the media and not in the media who focuses on Obama's and Hillary Clinton physical traits way too much.
 
  • #36
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Anyway, the Articles of Confederation are the problem. Note in Article 2 that all the states retain their independence and are sovereign. They have only given up those things specifically enumerated. Thus, there is no nation to be president of. There is only what amounts to a standing committee - the states, united, assembled in congress (commas added by me).
In the Bill of RIghts, there is language of a similar intent:
Bill of Rights said:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
More to the point, note Article 1:
Articles of Confederation said:
The Stile of this Confederacy shall be "The United States of America".
The independence and sovereignty of the states is not the issue here. The question at hand is this: Was John Hanson President of the United States of America?

Note these also:
Articles of Confederation said:
DONE at Philadelphia, in the State of Pennsylvania, the 9th day of July, in the Year of our Lord 1778, and in the third year of the independence of America.
The aforesaid articles of confederation were finally ratified on the first day of March 1781; the state of Maryland having, by their Members in Congress, on that day acceded thereto, and completed the same.
United States Constitution said:
Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independance of the United States of America the Twelfth.
So the country we call the United States of America came into being in 1776. It's first constitution went by the name Articles of Confederation written in 1778 and ratified in 1781. Article IX of that constitution creates the office of President. John Hanson filled that post.
 
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  • #37
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Thanks for the well-thought reply. I agree that the question then is whether there was a nation, the United States of America, created in 1781 or whether that happened in 1789. I'll have to think about that before I can reply.
 
  • #38
Chi Meson
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Obama considers himself to be black. Just making a wild guess here, but it may be because he looks black.
I read a NYT article from a person who declared that Obama may NOT call himself "Black" because he did not grow up in the same manner as a "black" person in America. This person went on to say that he may refer to himself as "African-American," since his father didi actually come from Africa.

I subsequently heard an interview on NPR where a different person essentially said the opposite: Obama may refer to himself as "Black," but the term "African-American" was reserved for those who are descendants of segregation, jim crow, and that other thing.

I found it telling that absolutely no one ultimately understands what these arbitrary designations mean.
 
  • #39
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Thanks for the well-thought reply. I agree that the question then is whether there was a nation, the United States of America, created in 1781 or whether that happened in 1789. I'll have to think about that before I can reply.
Even if you decided that the United States of America was not a nation until 1789, it would have no bearing. John Hanson was President of the United States of America. So far, the arguments against have run as follows:
Yes, but the office of President was different.
Yes, but the United States of America was different.
Yes, but John Hanson was different.
Actually, that last one hasn't been tried yet. I suppose someone will eventually try "Yes, but it depends upon what the meaning of 'was' was." But in every case the answer is yes, John Hanson was President of the United States of America.
 
  • #40
Chi Meson
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Even if you decided that the United States of America was not a nation until 1789, it would have no bearing. John Hanson was President of the United States of America. So far, the arguments against have run as follows:
Yes, but the office of President was different.
Yes, but the United States of America was different.
Yes, but John Hanson was different.
Actually, that last one hasn't been tried yet. I suppose someone will eventually try "Yes, but it depends upon what the meaning of 'was' was." But in every case the answer is yes, John Hanson was President of the United States of America.
I have to agree with Jimmy on this. It's an old argument I first heard in the 80s, and by all strict definitions, it is true. But when the Constitution was ratified, we sort of hit a "reset" button, and "United States" began the shift from a collection of allied nations, to a single nation of many semi-autonomous regions. The word "state" now means something different to us.

Another consideration: the method by which the President is elected has changed significantly since Washington, so who was the first president elected under the current rules? I don't know.
 
  • #41
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I have to agree with Jimmy on this. It's an old argument I first heard in the 80s, and by all strict definitions, it is true. But when the Constitution was ratified, we sort of hit a "reset" button, and "United States" began the shift from a collection of allied nations, to a single nation of many semi-autonomous regions. The word "state" now means something different to us.

Another consideration: the method by which the President is elected has changed significantly since Washington, so who was the first president elected under the current rules? I don't know.
If one wants to make the argument that Hanson was a president of the United States of America because that name (United States of America) had been used, then one has to also consider the possibility that Hanson was not the first such president but rather the third, after Huntington and McKean. If one argues that Huntington and McKean were not considered presidents of the United States of America because their offices were so different from that of the executive under the Constitution or because there was no such nation, then those arguments can be applied to Hanson as well.

Although one can make a case in which Huntington would not be considered the first president of the Unites States, such is not the case for McKean, since Hanson himself referred to McKean in that manner. It seems that Hanson, at best, would be the second president and most historians would strongly disagree with any other first president than Washington.
 
  • #42
Danger
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This whole issue strikes me as ludicrous. Who the hell cares what sex or colour someone is? It should be about who is going to do the best job.
From the 'experience' standpoint, Hillary has already been president once. (Come on, now... who do you think was pulling the nation's strings while Bill was playing with his cigar?)
From what I've seen of Obama, I like him. Even if I didn't, I'd still rather see him get in than another damned Republican. The fate of the planet might depend upon it.
 
  • #43
Ivan Seeking
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This whole issue strikes me as ludicrous. Who the hell cares what sex or colour someone is? It should be about who is going to do the best job.
From the 'experience' standpoint, Hillary has already been president once. (Come on, now... who do you think was pulling the nation's strings while Bill was playing with his cigar?)
From what I've seen of Obama, I like him. Even if I didn't, I'd still rather see him get in than another damned Republican. The fate of the planet might depend upon it.
As I stated earlier, the siginficance is the fact that we are finally ready to knowingly elect a black President. This would not have been possible even twenty years ago.
 
  • #44
Danger
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This would not have been possible even twenty years ago.
Your country never ceases to weird me out.
 
  • #45
Ivan Seeking
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Your country never ceases to weird me out.
On a related note:

“A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing
its opponents and making them see the light, but rather
because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation
grows up that is familiar with it." - Max Planck

Science progresses one death at a time – A. Einstein

However, it is fair to say that some people have seen the light. Over the course of one lifetime, attitudes in this country have changed tremendously, but institutionalized racism has been one of our greatest injustices. And it only took 147 years to correct.

I have a cousin [much older than me] in Illinois who was probably once a member of the KKK, and who, for as long as I can remember, felt no shame in his very vocal and open form of racism.

He is voting for Obama.
 
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  • #46
Danger
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I have a cousin [much older than me] in Illinois who was probably once a member of the KKK, and who, for as long as I can remember, felt no shame in his very vocal and open form of racism.

He is voting for Obama.
Maybe there's some hope for you guys after all.
 
  • #47
Chi Meson
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If one wants to make the argument that Hanson was a president of the United States of America because that name (United States of America) had been used, then one has to also consider the possibility that Hanson was not the first such president but rather the third, after Huntington and McKean. If one argues that Huntington and McKean were not considered presidents of the United States of America because their offices were so different from that of the executive under the Constitution or because there was no such nation, then those arguments can be applied to Hanson as well.

Although one can make a case in which Huntington would not be considered the first president of the Unites States, such is not the case for McKean, since Hanson himself referred to McKean in that manner. It seems that Hanson, at best, would be the second president and most historians would strongly disagree with any other first president than Washington.
Indeed you are correct that it was first Samuel Huntington, then McKean, then Hanson that were the first presidents under the Articles of Confederation ("Thanks Wikipedia!"). I had been going on recollection of a AM HIST 216 from 25 years ago. I recognized the "H."

I notice that the full title was "President of the United States in Congress Assembled," where the body itself was referred to as "The United States in Congress Assembled." So the argument could go on and on.

I agree that the whole thing quickly devolves into something silly. When we talk of "the President" we assume reference to the constitutionally elected president; the first was Washington. If we choose to get literally technical, then we can indulge ourselves in interesting trivia, which is all I consider this to be.

Now, back to the OP!
 
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