John Hancock

John Hancock (January 23, 1737 [O.S. January 12, 1736] – October 8, 1793) was an American 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 or Hancock has become a nickname in the United States for one's signature.[2]

John Hancock
Portrait by John Singleton Copley, c. 1770–1772
1st and 3rd Governor of Massachusetts
In office
May 30, 1787  October 8, 1793
LieutenantSamuel Adams
Preceded byJames Bowdoin
Succeeded bySamuel Adams
In office
October 25, 1780  January 29, 1785
LieutenantThomas Cushing
Preceded byOffice established
(partly Thomas Gage as colonial governor)
Succeeded byJames Bowdoin
4th and 13th President of the Continental Congress
In office
November 23, 1785  June 5, 1786
Preceded byRichard Henry Lee
Succeeded byNathaniel Gorham
In office
May 24, 1775  October 31, 1777
Preceded byPeyton Randolph
Succeeded byHenry Laurens
1st President of Massachusetts Provincial Congress
In office
October 7, 1774  May 2, 1775
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byJoseph Warren
Personal details
Born(1737-01-23)January 23, 1737
Braintree, Province of Massachusetts Bay, British America (now Quincy)
DiedOctober 8, 1793(1793-10-08) (aged 56)
Hancock Manor, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Resting placeGranary Burying Ground, Boston
Spouse(s)
(m. 1775)
ChildrenLydia Henchman Hancock (1776–1777)
John George Washington Hancock (1778–1787)
RelativesQuincy political family
Alma materHarvard University
Net worthUS$350,000 at the time of his death (approximately 1/714th of US GNP)[1]
Signature
Hancock's famous signature

Before the American Revolution, Hancock was one of the wealthiest men in the Thirteen Colonies, having inherited a profitable mercantile business from his uncle. He began his political career in Boston as a protégé of Samuel Adams, an influential local politician, though the two men later became estranged. Hancock used his wealth to support the colonial cause as tensions increased between colonists and Great Britain in the 1760s. He became very popular in Massachusetts, especially after British officials seized his sloop Liberty in 1768 and charged him with smuggling. Those charges 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 he was the first to sign the Declaration of Independence in his position as president of Congress. He 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.