Sheriff, commissary, and clerk in his native Charles County, Maryland. Served in the General Assembly of Maryland nearly every year from 1757 to 1779.
An early advocate for American independence. Elected as a delegate to the Continental Congress (December 1779). Elected president of the Congress of the Confederacy (1781).
Ratified the Articles of Confederation after Virginia and other states relinquished their claims to the unsettled territory that extended westward to the Mississippi River. Served one term as President of Congress.
Married Jane Contee. One of their nine children, Alexander Contee Hanson, became chancellor of Maryland.