Annual Wreath Laying Ceremony For Samuel Huntington
The United States - then a confederation of thirteen states - was first governed by a document called the Articles of Confederation. It was under the Articles of Confederation that this nation was called the United States of America. This document was drafted in 1776 and ratified by the states in 1781. Although this document was replaced by the Constitution in 1778, the Articles of Confederation might be considered the nation's first Constitution.
Under the Articles of Confederation, there were ten presidents of Congress. The first president of Congress was Norwich citizen Samuel Huntington. It is for this reason that many consider Huntington the first president of the United States.
While the U.S. Congress authorizes wreath laying ceremonies on the birthdays of every dead president of the United States it does not lay wreaths for those presidents of Congress that were recognized under the Articles of Confederation.
Local historian Denny Gibbs and Bill Stanley spearheaded efforts to recognize Samuel Huntington. This year a special tribute was also paid to Bill Stanley, who passed away last year. As Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal remarked this afternoon, "Today, we recognize two patriots: Samuel Huntington and Bill Stanley."
Bill Stanley's son, Bill Jr., spoke of his father and quoted former Mohegan Tribal Council chairman Mark Brown who once said that "Bill Stanley was so good that he could convince you that Samuel Huntington was the nation's first president, that Benedict Arnold (also a Norwich native) was a hero and that a tuna fish sandwich was a good lunch."
In addition to Stanley and Blumenthal, former congressman and ex-Army colonel Rob Simmons and Norwich Mayor Peter Nystrom also spoke. State senator Edith Prague and various other lawmakers were in attendance.
“Popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power that knowledge brings.” — James Madison, 1822