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 15: Secretary CHARLES THOMSON of Pennsylvania 

Beyond The Call Of Duty

first american republic During the First American Republic, the greatest patriot of all never occupied the President's chair, nor was he provided a mansion and carriage at public expense. But, as Secretary of Congress for its entire fifteen-year history, Charles Thomson was the driving force behind the gavel and the living institutional history of the nation's first government. Without his prodding and pleading, Congress would never have survived. Without his faithful service, the record of the First American Republic would be lost to history.

Charles Thomson's life was itself the perfect embodiment of the American Dream. He arrived on these shores as a penniless orphan at the age of ten and now, over two centuries later, he and his wife rest beneath a magnificent obelisk in historic Laurel Hill Cemetery in the heart of Philadelphia. Throughout his long and immensely productive career he left a unique and indelible mark on state and national government, natural science and biblical scholarship. His friends and correspondents of fifty years included Franklin and Jefferson. It was also Charles Thomson, the Secretary of Congress, who officially notified Washington of his election as the first President of the Second American Republic and accompanied him from Mount Vernon to the inaugural ceremonies in New York.

Several prominent colleagues, including John Jay, urged Charles to write the definitive history of that era since "no other person in the world is so perfectly acquainted with the rise, conduct and conclusion of the American Revolution as yourself..." Charles, however, declined. He refused to "undeceive future generations" concerning the "supposed wisdom and valor of our great men."