John Hancock, Signer of the "Declaration of Independence", 4th and 13th President of the Continental Congress

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John Hancock, Jr.

Birthdate:
Birthplace: Braintree, Quincy, Massachusetts
Death: Died in Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts
Place of Burial: Granary Burying Ground, Boston, Massachusetts
Immediate Family:

Son of Rev. John Hancock and Mary Hancock ( Hawke)
Husband of Dorothy "Dolly" Quincy Scott
Father of Lydia Henchman Hancock; John George Washington Hancock and Nancy Hancock
Brother of Mary Hancock; William Hancock; George Hancock; Ebenezer Hancock; Lucy Hancock and 1 other

Occupation: 3rd President of the Continental Congress of the United Colonies of America 1st President of the Continental Congress of the United States of America, Delegate to the Congress & Signer of the Declaration of Independence
Managed by: David Lee Kaleita
Last Updated:

About John Hancock, Signer of the "Declaration of Independence", 4th and 13th President of the Continental Congress

'John Hancock was son of Rev. John Hancock of Braintree and Mary (Hawke )Thaxter of Hingham. After his father died in 1744 he lived with an uncle and aunt, Thomas Hancock and Lydia (Henchman) Hancock.'

John Hancock

1737-1793

Representing Massachusetts at the Continental Congress

Born: January 12, 1737

Birthplace: Braintree (Quincy), Mass.

Education: Graduated Harvard College (Merchant.)

Work: Elected to the Boston Assembly, 1766; Delegate to, and President of, the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts, circa 1773; Elected to Continental Congress, 1774; Elected President of the Continental Congress, 1775; Member of Massachusetts state Constitutional Convention, elected Governor of Massachusetts, through 1793.

Died: October 8, 1793 Added by Elwin C. Nickerson: Buried Near his Friend in Life- Robert Treat Paine and Other Ancestors- Granary Burial Ground,Boston, Massachusetts. The signature of John Hancock on the Declaration of Independence is the most flamboyant and easily recognizable of all. It is perhaps no surprise that the story of his part in the revolution is equally engaging. Few figures were more well known or more popular than John Hancock.

He played an instrumental role, sometimes by accident, and other times by design, in coaxing the American Revolution into being.

Born in Braintree, Massachusetts in 1737, he was orphaned as a child, and adopted by a wealthy merchant uncle who was childless. Hancock attended Harvard College for a business education and graduated at the age of 17. He apprenticed to his uncle as a clerk and proved so honest and capable that, in 1760, he was sent on a business mission to England.

There he witnessed the coronation of George III and engaged some of the leading businessmen of London. In 1763, his uncle died and John Hancock inherited what was said to be the greatest body of wealth in New England.

This placed him in a society of men who consisted mainly of loyalists, suspected by the working population because of their great affluence and social power.

Hancock, however, soon became very involved in revolutionary politics and his sentiments were, early on and clearly, for independence from Great Britain.

He was in company with the Adamses and other prominent leaders in the republican movement in New England. He was elected to the Boston Assembly in 1766, and was a member of the Stamp Act Congress.

In 1768 his sloop Liberty was impounded by customs officials at Boston Harbor, on a charge of running contraband goods. A large group of private citizens stormed the customs post, burned the government boat, and beat the officers, causing them to seek refuge on a ship off shore. Soon afterward, Hancock abetted the Boston Tea Party.

The following year he delivered a public address to a large crowd in Boston, commemorating the Boston Massacre. In 1774, he was elected to the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts and simultaneously to the Continental Congress. When Peyton Randolph resigned in 1776, Hancock assumed the position of President. He retired in 1777 due to problems with gout, but continued public service in his native state by participating in the formation of its constitution. He was then elected to the Governorship of the state where he served for five years, declined reelection, and was again elected in 1787. He served in that office until his death in 1793. The dignity and character of John Hancock, celebrated by friend and enemy alike, did not suffer for his love of public attention. He was a populist in every sense, who held great confidence in the ability of the common man. He also displayed a pronounced contempt for unreasoned authority. A decree had been delivered from England in early 1776 offering a large reward for the capture of several leading figures. Hancock was one of them.

The story, entirely unfounded, is that on signing the Declaration, Hancock commented, "The British ministry can read that name without spectacles; let them double their reward." An alternate story, also unfounded has him saying, "There, I guess King George will be able to read that!" He was the first to sign and he did so in an entirely blank space.

Sources: PFG, EA

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Born: January 12, 1737

Birthplace: Braintree (Quincy), Mass.

Education: Graduated Harvard College (Merchant.)

Work: Elected to the Boston Assembly, 1766; Delegate to, and President of, the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts, circa 1773; Elected to Continental Congress, 1774; Elected President of the Continental Congress, 1775; Member of Massachusetts state Constitutional Convention, elected Governor of Massachusetts, through 1793.

Died: October 8, 1793

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The signature of John Hancock on the Declaration of Independence is the most flamboyant and easily recognizable of all. It is perhaps no surprise that the story of his part in the revolution is equally engaging. Few figures were more well known or more popular than John Hancock.

He played an instrumental role, sometimes by accident, and other times by design, in coaxing the American Revolution into being.

Born in Braintree, Massachusetts in 1737, he was orphaned as a child, and adopted by a wealthy merchant uncle who was childless. Hancock attended Harvard College for a business education and graduated at the age of 17. He apprenticed to his uncle as a clerk and proved so honest and capable that, in 1760, he was sent on a business mission to England.

There he witnessed the coronation of George III and engaged some of the leading businessmen of London. In 1763, his uncle died and John Hancock inherited what was said to be the greatest body of wealth in New England.

This placed him in a society of men who consisted mainly of loyalists, suspected by the working population because of their great affluence and social power.

Hancock, however, soon became very involved in revolutionary politics and his sentiments were, early on and clearly, for independence from Great Britain.

He was in company with the Adamses and other prominent leaders in the republican movement in New England. He was elected to the Boston Assembly in 1766, and was a member of the Stamp Act Congress.

In 1768 his sloop Liberty was impounded by customs officials at Boston Harbor, on a charge of running contraband goods. A large group of private citizens stormed the customs post, burned the government boat, and beat the officers, causing them to seek refuge on a ship off shore. Soon afterward, Hancock abetted the Boston Tea Party.

The following year he delivered a public address to a large crowd in Boston, commemorating the Boston Massacre. In 1774, he was elected to the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts and simultaneously to the Continental Congress. When Peyton Randolph resigned in 1776, Hancock assumed the position of President. He retired in 1777 due to problems with gout, but continued public service in his native state by participating in the formation of its constitution. He was then elected to the Governorship of the state where he served for five years, declined reelection, and was again elected in 1787. He served in that office until his death in 1793. The dignity and character of John Hancock, celebrated by friend and enemy alike, did not suffer for his love of public attention. He was a populist in every sense, who held great confidence in the ability of the common man. He also displayed a pronounced contempt for unreasoned authority. A decree had been delivered from England in early 1776 offering a large reward for the capture of several leading figures. Hancock was one of them. On signing the Declaration he commented, "The British ministry can read that name without spectacles; let them double their reward."

---------------------

The signature of John Hancock on the Declaration of Independence is the most flamboyant and easily recognizable of all. It is perhaps no surprise that the story of his part in the revolution is equally engaging. Few figures were more well known or more popular than John Hancock.

He played an instrumental role, sometimes by accident, and other times by design, in coaxing the American Revolution into being.

Born in Braintree, Massachusetts in 1737, he was orphaned as a child, and adopted by a wealthy merchant uncle who was childless. Hancock attended Harvard College for a business education and graduated at the age of 17. He apprenticed to his uncle as a clerk and proved so honest and capable that, in 1760, he was sent on a business mission to England.

There he witnessed the coronation of George III and engaged some of the leading businessmen of London. In 1763, his uncle died and John Hancock inherited what was said to be the greatest body of wealth in New England.

This placed him in a society of men who consisted mainly of loyalists, suspected by the working population because of their great affluence and social power.

Hancock, however, soon became very involved in revolutionary politics and his sentiments were, early on and clearly, for independence from Great Britain.

He was in company with the Adamses and other prominent leaders in the republican movement in New England. He was elected to the Boston Assembly in 1766, and was a member of the Stamp Act Congress.

In 1768 his sloop Liberty was impounded by customs officials at Boston Harbor, on a charge of running contraband goods. A large group of private citizens stormed the customs post, burned the government boat, and beat the officers, causing them to seek refuge on a ship off shore. Soon afterward, Hancock abetted the Boston Tea Party.

The following year he delivered a public address to a large crowd in Boston, commemorating the Boston Massacre. In 1774, he was elected to the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts and simultaneously to the Continental Congress. When Peyton Randolph resigned in 1776, Hancock assumed the position of President. He retired in 1777 due to problems with gout, but continued public service in his native state by participating in the formation of its constitution. He was then elected to the Governorship of the state where he served for five years, declined reelection, and was again elected in 1787. He served in that office until his death in 1793. The dignity and character of John Hancock, celebrated by friend and enemy alike, did not suffer for his love of public attention. He was a populist in every sense, who held great confidence in the ability of the common man. He also displayed a pronounced contempt for unreasoned authority. A decree had been delivered from England in early 1776 offering a large reward for the capture of several leading figures. Hancock was one of them. On signing the Declaration he commented, "The British ministry can read that name without spectacles; let them double their reward."

“YOU are already too well acquainted with the _hreatenin [sic] and very alarming Circumstances to which this Province, as well as America in general, is now reduced. Taxes equally detrimental to the Commercial interests of the Parent Country and her Colonies, are imposed upon the People, without their Consent; - Taxes designed for the Support of the Civil Government in the Colonies, in a Manner clearly unconstitu­tional, and contrary to that, in which ‘till of late, Government has been supported, by the free Gift of the People in the American Assemblies or Parliaments; as also for the Maintenance of a large Standing Army; not for the Defence [sic] of the newly acquired Territories, but for the old Colonies, and in a Time of Peace. The decent, humble and truly loyal Applications and Petitions from the Representatives of this Province for the Redress of these heavy and very _hreatening [sic] Grievances, have hitherto been ineffectual…The only Effect…has been a Mandate…to Dissolve the General Assembly, merely because the late House of Representatives refused to Rescind a Resolution of a former House, which imply’d nothing more than a Right in the American Subjects to unite in humble and dutiful Petitions to their gracious Sovereign, when they found themselves aggrieved…

“The Concern and Perplexity into which these Things have thrown the People, have been greatly aggravated, by a late Declaration of his Excellency Governor BERNARD, that one or more Regiments may soon be expected in this Province…

“Deprived of the Councils of a General Assembly in this dark and difficult Season, the loyal People of this Province, will, we are persuaded, immediately perceive the Propriety and Utility of the proposed Committee of Convention…”.

Signed “John Hancock,” also signed “Joseph Jackson,” “John Ruddock,” “John Rowe,” and “Samuel Pemberton” as Selectmen of Boston.”


This particular Hancock document had a demonstrable effect, “it changed the world,” as the governor called for British reinforcements. Hancock’s convention composed a list of grievances, passed several resolutions, and adjourned. Two days later, royal transports unloaded British troops at the Long Wharf and began a military occupation of Boston that would last until March 17, 1776. It was the beginning of the end of British Colonialism in America.


In response to the affray known as the "Boston Massacre," on March 5th, 1770 Hancock, at the funeral of the slain Bostonians, delivered an address to the mourning citizens. So radiant and fear­less was the speech in its condemnation of the conduct of the soldiery and their leaders that it greatly offended the Colonial Governor. Hancock's speech was printed in key American newspa­pers broadening his notoriety throughout the colonies.

In 1774 Hancock was elected, with Samuel Adams, to the Provincial congress at Concord, Massachusetts, and he subsequently became its president. The commanding General ordered a military expedition to Concord in April, 1775 to capture these Hancock and Adams. This mili­tary movement resulted in the Battle of Lexington. The British's arrival on April 18, 1775 forced Joseph Warren to call out the "Minute Men". Upon learning of the British plans to capture Hancock and Adams, Warren dispatched Paul Revere who wrote "About 10 o'clock, Dr. Warren Sent in a great haste for me, and begged that I would immediately Set off for Lexington, where Messrs. Hancock and Adams were..."

Revere was rowed across the Charles River to Charlestown by two friends where he checked first with members of the Sons of Liberty that Warren's call to arms Old Church signals had been seen. Revere then borrowed a horse from Deacon Larkin and began his famous ride. Revere reported on his ride north along the Mystic River, "I awakened the Captain of the minute men; and after that I alarmed almost every house till I got to Lexington. I found Messrs. Hancock and Adams at the Rev. Mr. Clark's; I told them my errand ..." . Revere then helped Adams and Hancock escape, and at 4:30am he wrote that "Mr Lowell asked me to go to the Tavern with him, to git a Trunk of papers belonging to Mr. Hancock. We went up Chamber; and while we were giting the Trunk, we saw the British very near, upon a full March." It was at that time, while collecting the trunk that Revere recalls hearing "The shot heard 'round the world" on the Lexington Green. Revere wrote,

"When we got about 100 Yards from the meeting-House the British Troops appeared on both Sides... I saw and heard a Gun fired... Then I could distinguish two Guns, and then a Continual roar of Musquetry; Then we made off with the Trunk.".

Hancock and Adams both escaped with their lives.

Following the April battles at Lexington and Concord, the British soldiers returned to Boston quar­tering the community. On 12 June, General Gage issued a proclamation offering pardons to all the rebels, excepting Samuel Adams and John Hancock, "whose offences," it was declared, "are of too flagitious a nature to admit of any other consideration than that of condign punishment."

On June 16th Colonel William Prescott was ordered onto the Charlestown Peninsula to occupy Bunker Hill to defy the British occupation of Boston. For reasons that are still not entirely clear, the colonists took possession of neighboring Breed's Hill and constructed defense fortifications. General William Howe quickly assembled a force of 3,000 soldiers to the foot of the American position. Two uphill assaults were launched and repulsed by Colonel Prescott who reputedly cau­tioned his men "not to fire until they saw the whites of their eyes." The assaults resulted in heavy losses for the British forcing Howe to call for 400 additional soldiers.

The British third charge caught the Americans low on powder and unable to resist the over­whelming numbers of fixed British bayonets. Prescott ordered the retreat down the north slope of Breed's Hill. Many were shot in the back during this escape across the Neck. A key causality was Dr. Joseph Warren, who was among the last to leave his position. He was killed instantly by a mus­ket ball in the back of his head. His death provided a political vacuum that John Hancock would fill leading to a U.S. founding prominence second only to George Washington.

Mr. Hancock was a delegate from Massachusetts to the Continental Congress from 1775 until 1780, and from 1785 until 1786, serving as President of that body from May 25, 1775 until October 1777. The 2nd Continental Congress opened on May 10, 1775 with Peyton Randolph serving as President. As in 1774 Randolph was called to Virginia for a Burgesses session and forced to abandon his presiding chair. Henry Middleton declined to serve as President a second time due to ill health. Samuel Adams and his cousin John Adams champion the cause of their wealthy benefactor John Hancock who was elected President on May 25th, 1775. The Adam’s regretted their decision because Hancock aligned himself with delegates who were, at best, tepid in the cause of independence. Additionally Hancock used his office in an opulent fashion much to the disappointment of his Massachusetts Colleagues. Moreover, when Randolph returned to Congress Hancock made no overture to surrender the Presidency, despite many delegates charg­ing his election was only to serve during Randolph’s absence.

The Hancock presidency was most eventual starting with a July 6, 1775 resolution, "Declaration of the Causes and Necessities of Taking Up Arms," that rejected independence but asserted that Americans were ready to die rather than be enslaved. In this resolution Congress openly invoked their Christian God stating:

“Our cause is just. Our union is perfect. Our internal resources are great, and, if nec­essary, foreign assistance is undoubtedly attainable. -- We gratefully acknowledge, as signal instances of the Divine favour towards us, that his Providence would not per­mit us to be called into this severe controversy, until we were grown up to our present strength, had been previously exercised in warlike operation, and possessed of the means of defending ourselves. With hearts fortified with these animating reflections, we most solemnly, before God and the world, declare, that, exerting the utmost ener­gy of those powers, which our beneficent Creator hath graciously bestowed upon us, the arms we have been compelled by our enemies to assume, we will, in defiance of every hazard, with unabating firmness and perseverence, employ for the preservation of our liberties; being with one mind resolved to die freemen rather than to live slaves.”

On June 14, debate opens in Congress on the appointment of a commander-in-chief of Continental forces. John Hancock made it known to all the delegates that he wanted the high office and as President expects to be nominated. He is surprised when his fellow Massachusetts delegate, John Adams, moves to appoint George Washington suggesting he had the military experience necessary to wage war and character around which all the colonies might unite.On June 17th, 1775 the Continental Congress passed the following resolution appointing George Washington as Commander-In-Chief:

Resolved unanimously upon the question, Whereas, the delegates of all the colonies, from Nova-Scotia to Georgia, in Congress assembled, have unanimously chosen George Washington, Esq. to be General and commander in chief, of such forces as are, or shall be, raised for the maintenance and preservation of American liberty; this Congress doth now declare, that they will maintain and assist him, and adhere to him, the said George Washington, Esqr., with their lives and fortunes in the same cause.

John Adams wrote his wife this concerning the appointment:

I can now inform you that the Congress have made Choice of the modest and virtuous, the amiable, generous and brave George Washington Esqr., to be the General of the American Army, and that he is to repair as soon as possible to the Camp before Boston.

On July 26, 1775 John Hancock's Continental Congress established the Colonial Post office with this resolution:

“That a postmaster General be appointed for the United Colonies, who shall hold his office at Philadelphia, and shall be allowed a salary of 1000 dollars per annum for himself, and 340 dollars per annum for a secretary and Comptroller, with power to appoint such, and so many deputies as to him may seem proper and necessary.

That a line of posts be appointed under the direction of the Postmaster general, from Falmouth in New England to Savannah in Georgia, with as many cross posts as he shall think fit.

That the allowance to the deputies in lieu of salary and all contingent expenses, shall be 20% on the sums they collect and pay into the General post office annually, when the whole is under or not exceeding 1000 Dollars, and 10% for all sums above 1000 dollars a year.

That the rates of postage shall be 20% less than those appointed by act of Parliament1. That the several deputies account quarterly with the general post office, and the postmaster general annually with the continental treasurers, when he shall pay into the receipt of the Sd Treasurers, the profits of the Post Office; and if the nec­essary expense of this establishment should exceed the produce of it, the deficiency shall be made good by the United Colonies, and paid to the postmaster general by the continental Treasure.

The Congress then proceeded to the election of a postmaster general for one year, and until another is appointed by a future Congress, when Benjamin Franklin, Esquire was unanimously chosen.”

In November of 1775 Congress established both the Continental Marines and Navy on the news of Continental Army’s Victory in Montreal. December of 1775 brought the disastrous news that Generals Richard Montgomery and Arnold's attack on the key to Canada, Quebec City failed. General Montgomery was killed and Benedict Arnold was forced to make a hasty retreat into New York. This loss put a great strain on troops and resources while shifting the main thrust of the war back to the Colonies.

On January 16th, 1776 the Continental Congress approved the enlistment of "free negroes." This led to the establishment of the First Rhode Island Regiment, composed of 33 free-negroes and 92 slaves. The regiment distinguished itself at the Battle of Newport and the slaves were freed at the end of the war. Also in January Thomas Paine publishes "Common Sense", which was a con­temptuous attack on King George III's reign over the colonies. Paine's work united many Americans in the Revolutionary Cause by successfully arguing that the Colonists now had a moral obligation to reject monarchy.

Paine's first edition sold out quickly and within three months, it is estimated that over 120,000 copies had been printed. Signer Benjamin Rush recalled that

"Its effects were sudden and exten­sive upon the American mind.. It was read by public men, repeated in clubs, spouted in Schools, and in one instance, delivered from the pulpit instead of a sermon by a clergyman in Connecticut.."

The work so inspired George Washington that he swept away all remaining allegiance to King George III declaring that Common Sense offered "...sound doctrine and unanswerable rea­soning." for independence.

Paine's provocative pamphlet was translated into French and appeared first in Quebec. John Adams wrote that "Common Sense was received in France and in all Europe with Rapture.” Common Sense was translated into German, Danish, and Russia. It was estimated that over 500,000 copies were sold during the initial years of the Revolutionary War.

John Hancock's Congress capitalized on this ground swell of Paine Patriotism by invocating the aid of God in this moral cause for independence. This time the name of Jesus Christ was actual­ly included in the official congressional resolution passed on March 16th, 1776. This proclama­tion signed by President Hancock set May 17, 1776:

"Day of Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer" throughout the colonies. The Continental Congress urged its fellow citizens to "confess and bewail our manifold sins and transgressions, and by a sincere repentance and amendment of life, appease his [God's] righteous displeasure, and through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, obtain his pardon and forgiveness."

The Colony of Massachusetts followed suit almost immediately ordering a "suitable number" of these proclamations to be printed so "that each of the religious Assemblies in this Colony, may be furnished with a Copy of the same" and added the motto "God Save This People" as a substitute for "God Save the King." 

Common Sense changed the political climate in America as the pamphlet ignited debates where the people spoke openly and often for independence. The Second Continental Congress would take to heart Paine's suggestion::

“To conclude: However strange it may appear to some, or however unwilling they may be to think so, matters not, but many strong and striking reasons may be given, to show, that nothing can settle our affairs so expeditiously as an open and determined declaration for independence.”

Common Sense was expertly peppered with evocations to Almighty God and biblical quotes that theologically makes a case for Independence from Great Britain. Clearly, the Day of Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer resolution passed by Congress in the Spring of 1776 draws strongly from the popular Judeo-Christian verbiage in Paine's best selling pamphlet..

Specifically the 1776 Journals of Congress record the resolution as:

Mr. W[illiam] Livingston, pursuant to leave granted, brought in a resolution for appointing a fast, which & par being taken into consideration, ∥ was agreed to as follows:

In times of impending calamity and distress; when the liberties of America are immi­nently endangered by the secret machinations and open assaults of an insidious and vindictive administration, it becomes the indispensable duty of these hitherto free and happy colonies, with true penitence of heart, and the most reverent devotion, publick­ly to acknowledge the over ruling providence of God; to confess and deplore our offences against him; and to supplicate his interposition for averting the threatened danger, and prospering our strenuous efforts in the cause of freedom, virtue, and pos­terity.

The Congress, therefore, considering the warlike preparations of the British Ministry to subvert our invaluable rights and priviledges, and to reduce us by fire and sword, by the savages of the wilderness, and our own domestics, to the most abject and igno­minious bondage: Desirous, at the same time, to have people of all ranks and degrees duly impressed with a solemn sense of God's super intending providence, and of their duty, devoutly to rely, in all their lawful enterprizes, on his aid and direction, Do earnestly recommend, that Friday, the Seventeenth day of May next, be observed by the said colonies as a day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer; that we may, with unit­ed hearts, confess and bewail our manifold sins and transgressions, and, by a sincere repentance and amendment of life, appease his righteous displeasure, and, through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, obtain his pardon and forgiveness; humbly imploring his assistance to frustrate the cruel purposes of our unnatural enemies; and by inclining their hearts to justice and benevolence, prevent the further effusion of kin­dred blood. But if, continuing deaf to the voice of reason and humanity, and inflexi­bly bent, on desolation and war, they constrain us to repel their hostile invasions by open resistance, that it may please the Lord of Hosts, the God of Armies, to animate our officers and soldiers with invincible fortitude, to guard and protect them in the day of battle, and to crown the continental arms, by sea and land, with victory and suc­cess: Earnestly beseeching him to bless our civil rulers, and the representatives of the people, in their several assemblies and conventions; to preserve and strengthen their union, to inspire them with an ardent, disinterested love of their country; to give wis­dom and stability to their counsels; and direct them to the most efficacious measures for establishing the rights of America on the most honourable and permanent basis--That he would be graciously pleased to bless all his people in these colonies with health and plenty, and grant that a spirit of incorruptible patriotism, and of pure unde­filed religion, may universally prevail; and this continent be speedily restored to the blessings of peace and liberty, and enabled to transmit them inviolate to the latest posterity. And it is recommended to Christians of all denominations, to assemble for public worship, and abstain from servile labour on the said day.

Resolved, That the foregoing resolve be published.

John Hanock, President

Charles Thomson, Secretary


This proclamation was printed in full in the Pennsylvania Gazette, 20 March, 1776. There were many more 1776 events in Hancock's Congress that are noteworthy in the march towards Independence but all are reduced to historical footnotes due to Richard Henry Lee's June resolution and Thomas Jefferson's pen of independence. Despite his attempts to thwart revolution, John Hancock was caught up in the "Common Sense" fervor and ended-up presiding over the Continental Congress who would vote to abolish all ties with Great Britain.

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John HanCock was John Hibbard's 4th cousin

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Signer of the Declaration of Independence.

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 	 John Hancock  (1737-1793)

Massachusetts Representative

John Hancock made his signature very large on the Declaration of Independence so that King George could read it without his glasses, thus the use of his name to mean "signature."

John Hancock

1737-1793

Representing Massachusetts at the Continental Congress

Hancock

Born: January 12, 1737

Birthplace: Braintree (Quincy), Mass.

Education: Graduated Harvard College (Merchant.)

Work: Elected to the Boston Assembly, 1766; Delegate to, and President of, the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts, circa 1773; Elected to Continental Congress, 1774; Elected President of the Continental Congress, 1775; Member of Massachusetts state Constitutional Convention, elected Governor of Massachusetts, through 1793.

Died: October 8, 1793

The signature of John Hancock on the Declaration of Independence is the most flamboyant and easily recognizable of all. It is perhaps no surprise that the story of his part in the revolution is equally engaging. Few figures were more well known or more popular than John Hancock.

He played an instrumental role, sometimes by accident, and other times by design, in coaxing the American Revolution into being.

Born in Braintree, Massachusetts in 1737, he was orphaned as a child, and adopted by a wealthy merchant uncle who was childless. Hancock attended Harvard College for a business education and graduated at the age of 17. He apprenticed to his uncle as a clerk and proved so honest and capable that, in 1760, he was sent on a business mission to England.

There he witnessed the coronation of George III and engaged some of the leading businessmen of London. In 1763, his uncle died and John Hancock inherited what was said to be the greatest body of wealth in New England.

This placed him in a society of men who consisted mainly of loyalists, suspected by the working population because of their great affluence and social power.

Hancock, however, soon became very involved in revolutionary politics and his sentiments were, early on and clearly, for independence from Great Britain.

He was in company with the Adamses and other prominent leaders in the republican movement in New England. He was elected to the Boston Assembly in 1766, and was a member of the Stamp Act Congress.

In 1768 his sloop Liberty was impounded by customs officials at Boston Harbor, on a charge of running contraband goods. A large group of private citizens stormed the customs post, burned the government boat, and beat the officers, causing them to seek refuge on a ship off shore. Soon afterward, Hancock abetted the Boston Tea Party.

The following year he delivered a public address to a large crowd in Boston, commemorating the Boston Massacre. In 1774, he was elected to the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts and simultaneously to the Continental Congress. When Peyton Randolph resigned in 1776, Hancock assumed the position of President. He retired in 1777 due to problems with gout, but continued public service in his native state by participating in the formation of its constitution. He was then elected to the Governorship of the state where he served for five years, declined reelection, and was again elected in 1787. He served in that office until his death in 1793. The dignity and character of John Hancock, celebrated by friend and enemy alike, did not suffer for his love of public attention. He was a populist in every sense, who held great confidence in the ability of the common man. He also displayed a pronounced contempt for unreasoned authority. A decree had been delivered from England in early 1776 offering a large reward for the capture of several leading figures. Hancock was one of them.

The story, entirely unfounded, is that on signing the Declaration, Hancock commented, "The British ministry can read that name without spectacles; let them double their reward." An alternate story, also unfounded has him saying, "There, I guess King George will be able to read that!" He was the first to sign and he did so in an entirely blank space.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Hancock

John Hancock (January 23, 1737 [O.S. January 12, 1736] – October 8, 1793) was a merchant, statesman, and prominent Patriot of the American Revolution. He served as president of the Second Continental Congress and was the first and third Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He is remembered for his large and stylish signature on the United States Declaration of Independence, so much so that "John Hancock" became, in the United States, a synonym for "signature".

Before the American Revolution, Hancock was one of the wealthiest men in the Thirteen Colonies, having inherited a profitable shipping business from his uncle. Hancock began his political career in Boston as a protégé of Samuel Adams, an influential local politician, though the two men would later become estranged. As tensions between colonists and Great Britain increased in the 1760s, Hancock used his wealth to support the colonial cause. He became very popular in Massachusetts, especially after British officials seized his sloop Liberty in 1768 and charged him with smuggling. Although the charges against Hancock were eventually dropped, he has often been described as a smuggler in historical accounts, but the accuracy of this characterization has been questioned.

Hancock was one of Boston's leaders during the crisis that led to the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War in 1775. He served more than two years in the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, and as president of Congress was the first to sign the Declaration of Independence. Hancock returned to Massachusetts and was elected as governor of the Commonwealth for most of his remaining years. He used his influence to ensure that Massachusetts ratified the United States Constitution in 1788.

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John was "the signer" (the guy who signed his name very large on the Declaration of Independence, so that King George III would be able to read it without his spectacles).

Ref: Daniel T. Rogers (b. 1943) family tree site:

http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~dantrogers/pafg2105.htm#41943 -------------------- Birth: Jan. 12, 1737 Death: Oct. 8, 1793

American Patriot Leader and Signer of the Declaration of Independence from Massachusetts. His signature on the document was so bold that when people sign their names, they are said to have written their “John Hancock.” Born in Braintree, Massachusetts, where his father was a minister. When he was seven years old, his father died suddenly, and his uncle, Thomas Hancock, one of the wealthiest merchants in Boston, adopted him and raised him. John graduated from Harvard College in 1754 and joined his uncle in his business, inheriting the company upon his uncle’s death in 1764. In 1768, when one of his merchant ships, the Liberty, was seized by customs officials, Hancock felt the seizure was unfair and soon became a vocal critic of the British policies. In 1769, he won election to the Massachusetts Legislature, and in 1774, attended the First Continental Congress, and the following year, the Second Continental Congress. Because of his leadership, he was elected to serve as President of both Continental Congresses. On April 19, 1775, the British Army marched out of Boston to Lexington, in part to capture Hancock and patriot Samuel Adams, and it was Paul Reveres ride that gave them warning to flee. Hancock was hesitant to flee, as he wanted to join the Minutemen then gathering on Lexington Green to fight the approaching British. Eventually, he was persuaded to leave the fighting to others and to avoid capture. Shortly after the battles of Lexington and Concord, Hancock was on his way to Philadelphia, to join the Second Continental Congress. As President of the Continental Congress, from 1775 to 1777, he was the first person to sign the Declaration of Independence. In August 1775, he married Dolly Quincy, with whom he would have two children, however, neither child lived to become adults. He had hoped to command the American Army, and was disappointed when Virginian George Washington was selected instead. In 1778, however, he led 5,000 Massachusetts soldiers in an unsuccessful attempt to free Rhode Island from the British. In 1780, Hancock became President of the Convention which wrote the Massachusetts Constitution, and became the first Governor under the new charter. Extremely popular in his home state, he served nine terms as governor, a total of eleven years, from 1780 to 1785, and from 1787 until his death in Boston in 1793. -------------------- Education: Harvard College Note:

   FIRST SIGNER OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
   PRESIDENT OF CONTINENTAL CONGRESS
   FIRST GOVERNOR OF MASSACHUSETTS
   FREEMASON
   John was orphaned as a child and adopted by a wealthy childless uncle. Through his inheritance, he became the wealthiest man in Boston. He was a populist who believed in the ability of the common man.
   "The British ministry can read that name without spectacles; let them double their reward." --John Hancock upon signing the Declaration of Independence

John Hancock (January 23, 1737 [O.S. January 12, 1736] – October 8, 1793) was a merchant, statesman, and prominent Patriot of the American Revolution. He served as president of the Second Continental Congress and was the first and third Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He is remembered for his large and stylish signature on the United States Declaration of Independence, so much so that the term "John Hancock" has become, in the United States, a synonym for signature.

Before the American Revolution, Hancock was one of the wealthiest men in the Thirteen Colonies, having inherited a profitable shipping business from his uncle. Hancock began his political career in Boston as a protégé of Samuel Adams, an influential local politician, though the two men later became estranged. As tensions between colonists and Great Britain increased in the 1760s, Hancock used his wealth to support the colonial cause. He became very popular in Massachusetts, especially after British officials seized his sloop Liberty in 1768 and charged him with smuggling. Although the charges against Hancock were eventually dropped, he has often been described as a smuggler in historical accounts, but the accuracy of this characterization has been questioned.

Hancock was one of Boston's leaders during the crisis that led to the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War in 1775. He served more than two years in the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, and as president of Congress, was the first to sign the Declaration of Independence. Hancock returned to Massachusetts and was elected governor of the Commonwealth, serving in that role for most of his remaining years. He used his influence to ensure that Massachusetts ratified the United States Constitution in 1788. -------------------- Education: Harvard College Note:

   FIRST SIGNER OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
   PRESIDENT OF CONTINENTAL CONGRESS
   FIRST GOVERNOR OF MASSACHUSETTS
   FREEMASON
   John was orphaned as a child and adopted by a wealthy childless uncle. Through his inheritance, he became the wealthiest man in Boston. He was a populist who believed in the ability of the common man.
   "The British ministry can read that name without spectacles; let them double their reward." --John Hancock upon signing the Declaration of Independence

John Hancock (January 23, 1737 [O.S. January 12, 1736] – October 8, 1793) was a merchant, statesman, and prominent Patriot of the American Revolution. He served as president of the Second Continental Congress and was the first and third Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He is remembered for his large and stylish signature on the United States Declaration of Independence, so much so that the term "John Hancock" has become, in the United States, a synonym for signature.

Before the American Revolution, Hancock was one of the wealthiest men in the Thirteen Colonies, having inherited a profitable shipping business from his uncle. Hancock began his political career in Boston as a protégé of Samuel Adams, an influential local politician, though the two men later became estranged. As tensions between colonists and Great Britain increased in the 1760s, Hancock used his wealth to support the colonial cause. He became very popular in Massachusetts, especially after British officials seized his sloop Liberty in 1768 and charged him with smuggling. Although the charges against Hancock were eventually dropped, he has often been described as a smuggler in historical accounts, but the accuracy of this characterization has been questioned.

Hancock was one of Boston's leaders during the crisis that led to the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War in 1775. He served more than two years in the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, and as president of Congress, was the first to sign the Declaration of Independence. Hancock returned to Massachusetts and was elected governor of the Commonwealth, serving in that role for most of his remaining years. He used his influence to ensure that Massachusetts ratified the United States Constitution in 1788.

view all 19

John Hancock, Signer of the "Declaration of Independence", 4th and 13th President of the Continental Congress's Timeline

1737
January 12, 1737
Braintree, Quincy, Massachusetts
1760
1760
Age 22
London, England

Born in Braintree, Massachusetts in 1737, he was orphaned as a child, and adopted by a wealthy merchant uncle who was childless. Hancock attended Harvard College for a business education and graduated at the age of 17. He apprenticed to his uncle as a clerk and proved so honest and capable that, in 1760, he was sent on a business mission to England.

1763
1763
Age 25

In 1763, his uncle died and John Hancock inherited what was said to be the greatest body of wealth in New England.

1773
1773
Age 35
1774
1774
Age 36
1775
August 28, 1775
Age 38
United States
1775
Age 37
1776
July 4, 1776
- 1776
Age 39
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States

Descent Only 15 of the 56 signers have male descendants today. These Signers have no descendants: William Whipple, John Hancock, Samuel Huntington, James Smith, James Wilson, Caesar Rodney, George Wythe, Francis Lightfoot Lee, Joseph Hewes, Thomas Lynch, Jr. Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, and George Walton. These Signers have no same surname (male) descendants: Josiah Bartlett, Matthew Thornton, Samuel Adams, Elbridge Gerry, William Williams, William Floyd, Francis Lewis, Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, George Clymer, George Taylor, George Ross, Thomas McKean, Samuel Chase, Thomas Stone, Thomas Jefferson, William Hooper and John Penn. These Signers have very doubtful same surname (male) descendants: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery, Oliver Wolcott, John Witherspoon, Abraham Clark, John Morton, Carter Braxton, Edward Rutledge. The remainder of the Signers is known to have same surname (male) descendants. (Talk about being blown away when you find out almost all of the signers are part of your family's history. You sit back shake your head and wonder am I dreaming. Then you double check in disbelief wondering how that could be. What does that mean for you and your.) =================================================================== Did Your Ancestor Sign the Declaration of Independence? By James Pylant And can you prove it? Kathy M. Cornwell's "Disspelling a Myth and Finding An Ancestor," in Seventeen Seventy-Six, Vol. 2, No. 2 (pp. 69-73), tells of a family tradition that her husband's ancestor, Jane Wilson Cornwell, was the daughter of James Wilson, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. "Admittedly, there was plausibility for the claim, for descendants of all of Jane's children whom we could locate had heard the story, and firmly believed it. One relative knew it was true because his grandmother told him, and she was Jane's daughter." Her research did reveal her husband's ancestor was the daughter of James Wilson — only that he and the signer were not one and the same. Signer James Wilson, according to one source Cornwell found, had no living descendants. "Our search to prove or disprove it spanned several years," wrote Cornwell, "but at the end of the genealogical journey we found the real ancestor, another James Wilson, who turned out to be just as colorful and fascinating as the celebrated Wilson." Yet, some legends prove to be true. “I too had a family story that the Rev. Dr. John Witherspoon was an ancestor," says librarian Beatrice M. Beck. "It took three years to document this story. But it was one hundred percent correct.”* The Rev. Frederick W. Pyne’s Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, a nine-volume series, was published by Picton Press. The author’s work incorporates data from the application files of the Society of the Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, the Frank W. Leach manuscript, and many other published references. In 1987, the LDS Reference Unit at the Family History Library, in Salt Lake City, compiled the "Founding Fathers Project." The project encompasses genealogical data on signers of the Declaration of Independence, signers of the Articles of Confederation (1778), and members of the American Constitutional Convention (1787). The Reference Unit's objective was to identify names of wives, children, and parents. This reference is available on microfilm loan at the various Family History Centers. The film number is 1592751, item 3. However, for more complete data on descendants (up to 1900 in some cases), refer to the following microfilms: 001751: John Adams, Samuel Adams, Josiah Bartlett, William Ellery, Elbridge Gerry,John Hancock, Stephen Hopkins, Samuel Huntington, Robert Treat Paine, Roger Sherman, Matthew Thornton, William Whipple, William Williams, and Oliver Wolcott. 001752: Abraham Clark, William Floyd, John Hart, Francis Lewis, Phillip Livingston, and Lewis Morris. 001753: George Clymer, Benjamin Francis Hopkinson, Robert Morris, John Morton, and John Witherspoon. 001754: Charles Carroll, Samuel Chase, Thomas McKean, William Paca, George Read, Caesar Rodney, George Ross, Benjamin Rush, Thomas Stone, George Taylor, and James Wilson. 001755: Carter Braxton, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Jefferson, Francis Lightfoot Lee, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Nelson Jr., and George Wythe. 001756: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, Joseph Hewes, Thomas Heyward Jr., William Hooper, Thomas Lynch Jr., Arthur Middleton, John Penn, Edward Rutledge, and George Walton * Beatrice M. Beck to James Pylant, 4 June 2001. http://www.genealogymagazine.com/didyouransig.html
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http://history.org/foundation/journal/Winter11/painting_magnify/

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http://research.history.org/pf/publishing/goddardsPrinting.cfm

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http://research.history.org/pf/publishing/dunlap.cfm

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http://research.history.org/pf/signers/

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William Woodruff's Facsimile

An upsurge in public interest in the Declaration of Independence occurred in the early nineteenth century. Among the various editions printed was one by Philadelphian William Woodruff, a journeyman engraver. Allegorical symbols of the new nation surround the text and signatures. The cursive signatures on the printing at the right indicate that it was one produced after Woodruff's initial 1819 printing.

http://research.history.org/pf/viewer.cfm?image=lg_woodruff.jpg&amp...

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July 4th, 2012 at the National Archives: Dramatic Reading of the Declaration of Independence

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drIdEZ_om9w
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Declaration of Independence

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9ovu0a6pL8
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John and Abigail (Adams)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9ddILn141w
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Correspondence between John and Abigail Adams

http://www.masshist.org/digitaladams/archive/letter/
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Letter from Abigail Adams to John Adams, 31 March - 5 April 1776

http://www.masshist.org/digitaladams/archive/doc?id=L17760331aa
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July 4, 1776
- 1776
Age 39
Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Descent Only 15 of the 56 signers have male descendants today. These Signers have no descendants: William Whipple, John Hancock, Samuel Huntington, James Smith, James Wilson, Caesar Rodney, George Wythe, Francis Lightfoot Lee, Joseph Hewes, Thomas Lynch, Jr. Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, and George Walton. These Signers have no same surname (male) descendants: Josiah Bartlett, Matthew Thornton, Samuel Adams, Elbridge Gerry, William Williams, William Floyd, Francis Lewis, Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, George Clymer, George Taylor, George Ross, Thomas McKean, Samuel Chase, Thomas Stone, Thomas Jefferson, William Hooper and John Penn. These Signers have very doubtful same surname (male) descendants: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery, Oliver Wolcott, John Witherspoon, Abraham Clark, John Morton, Carter Braxton, Edward Rutledge. The remainder of the Signers is known to have same surname (male) descendants. (Talk about being blown away when you find out almost all of the signers are part of your family's history. You sit back shake your head and wonder am I dreaming. Then you double check in disbelief wondering how that could be. What does that mean for you and your.)

October 1776
Age 39
Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA