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 1: President PEYTON RANDOLPH of Virginia 

First Amoung Equals

first american president Once the meeting hall had been selected, the first order of business was to elect one individual to preside over their deliberations and to represent the body as a whole. As the oldest and largest of the 13 colonies, Virginia held the unique distinction of being first among equals. It was Virginia that had issued the call for the colonies to convene a Congress. Therefore, it is hardly surprising that the delegates turned to Virginia when selecting their first leader. John Adams and other savvy New England delegates also realized that a truly united response to the crisis at home demanded visible leadership from other regions, especially the South. It was equally obvious which member of Virginia's delegation would receive this honor. In each of the colonies, the Speaker of the House was the highest elected official. Even though the Virginia delegation included six other distinguished members (Richard Bland, Benjamin Harrison, Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, Edmund Pendleton and George Washington) there was no question that Peyton Randolph, Speaker of the Virginia House of Burgesses, headed their delegation. Fortunately, he was a man of great distinction and extensive government experience.

Thomas Lynch, Sr. of South Carolina made the nomination. Adams recorded that historic moment: "Then Mr. Lynch arose, and said there was a Gentleman present who had presided with great Dignity over a very respectable Society, greatly to the Advantage of America, and he therefore proposed that the Hon. Peyton Randolph Esqr., one of the Delegates from Virginia, and the late Speaker of their House of Burgesses, should be appointed Chairman and he doubted not it would be unanimous.--The Question was put and he was unanimously chosen. Mr. Randolph then took the Chair..." In his "Notes of Debates," New York Delegate James Duane described what happened next: "A question was then put what Title the Convention should assume & it was agred that it should be called the Congress. Another Question was put what shoud [sic] be the Stile of Mr Randolph & it was agreed that he should be called the President."