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He was born in Copenhagen, Denmark. A sailor by trade, he joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Boston in 1844. After this Hansen moved to Nauvoo. While at Nauvoo Hansen assisted in building the Nauvoo Temple and also worked on the translation of the Book of Mormon into Danish. Hansen arrived in Salt Lake City in September, 1847.
He accompanied Erastus Snow on the first Latter-day Saint mission to Denmark. He served on this mission from 1849-1855 during which he served as the first editor of the Skandinaviens Stjerne. Hansen latter served a mission in Denmark from 1873-1875 and 1880-1882.