Henry Laurens (b. 1724 – d. 1792) The only American President ever to be held as a prisoner of war by a foreign power, Laurens was heralded after he was released as “The Father Of Our Country“, by no less a personage than George Washington.
He was of huguenot extraction, his ancestors having come to America from France after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes made the reformed faith illegal. Raised and educated for a life of mercantilism at his home in Charleston, he also had the opportunity to spend more than a year in continental travel.
It was while in Europe that he began to write revolutionary pamphlets, gaining him renown as a patriot. He served as Vice – President of South Carolina in 1776. He was then elected to the Continental Congress. He succeeded John Hancock as President of the newly independent, but war beleaguered American Colonies on November 1, 1777. He served until December 9, 1778 at which time he was appointed Ambassador to the Netherlands.
Unfortunately for the cause of a young nation, he was captured by an English warship during his cross – Atlantic voyage and was confined to the Tower of London until the end of the war. After the Battle of Yorktown, the American government regained his freedom in a dramatic prisoner exchange, President Laurens for the famous Lord Cornwallis.
Ever the patriot, Laurens continued to serve his nation as one of the three representatives selected to negotiate terms at the Paris Peace Conference in 1782. (If my memory serves me correctly, i believe Benjamin Franklin was one of the 3)