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 7: President THOMAS McKEAN of Pennsylvania 

Double Distinction

first american republic For nearly a half century, no one served longer nor struggled harder to establish the American Republic. One year before Peyton Randolph was elected Speaker of the Virginia House of Burgesses, Thomas McKean had already taken his seat as the second youngest delegate at the Stamp Act Congress of 1765. In 1808, thirty-two years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas finally withdrew from public life at the completion of his third term as Governor of Pennsylvania.

During his illustrious career, Thomas had the double distinction of having led not one but two states. In 1762, he was elected to the Delaware House of Assembly, serving as Speaker of that legislature for three of the next seventeen years. When the British invasion threatened that state's government, he briefly assumed the office of President [i.e., Governor] of Delaware. During that same period, Thomas was also appointed as the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, a position he exercised with undaunted determination for over two decades.

At the national level, Thomas' tenure was equally exceptional. In 1774, he was elected as a delegate from Delaware to the First Continental Congress and reelected to that position with only one year's absence throughout the entire Revolutionary War. On July 10, 1781, as the Continental Army mobilized its forces for the decisive assault at Yorktown, it was Thomas McKean, the Delegate from Delaware and Chief Justice of Pennsylvania, who was elected as the seventh President of the Continental Congress.