first american republic
This website is designed to be an introduction to, supplement to, and companion to the book 'THE FIRST AMERICAN REPUBLIC: 1774-1789
(The First Fourteen American Presidents Before Washington)'


Chapter 9: President ELIAS BOUDINOT of New Jersey 

Battles & Bibles

first american republic As the Revolutionary War inched toward victory after eight brutal and bloody years, the structure of the national government slowly evolved under the Articles of Confederation.

For the first time, Presidents served clearly defined one-year terms. On November 4, 1782, John Hanson of Maryland reached that milepost as he eagerly relinquished the responsibilities of his office to the new Head of State: Elias Boudinot of New Jersey. For Boudinot, the third President of French Huguenot descent, the office marked the midpoint of an extremely active and eclectic career.

Unlike many of his contemporaries, Elias' long life of public service was devoted to substance rather than showmanship. During the early days of the war, he took on one of the toughest assignments when he agreed to become Commissary of Prisoners. Thousands of American soldiers held by the British depended on him to save them from a fate nearly worse than death. Thousands of British and Hessian prisoners relied on him for basic necessities and even security

As President, it was Elias who took the initiative to move the capital from Philadelphia when the Pennsylvania Militia refused to protect Congress from an angry mob of unpaid soldiers. He personally led his fellow delegates to Princeton in his home state. Even though the facilities were not well suited to their needs, at least the members were safe.

Once the new Constitution went into effect, Elias was the only former President who sought and won election to the new House of Representatives. From his correspondence at that time, it seems clear that he was eager to serve as the first Speaker of the House but he was far too modest to seek the office. Instead, big state politics favored a Pennsylvanian for that distinction.

After three terms in the new House, Elias took on yet another difficult assignment as Director of the new United States Mint. A decade later, during Jefferson's second term, Elias finally retired to private life.