John Hancock bigraphy, stories - American statesman and Patriot

John Hancock : biography

January 23, 1737 - October 8, 1793

John Hancock (January 12, 1736 ({{OldStyleDateDY) January 23, 1737 – 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" 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 mercantile 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.

Early life

According to the Gregorian calendar, John Hancock was born on January 23, 1737; according to the Julian calendar then in use, the date was January 12, 1736. He was born in Braintree, Massachusetts, in a part of town that eventually became the separate city of Quincy. He was the son of the Reverend John Hancock of Braintree and Mary Hawke Thaxter, who was from nearby Hingham. As a child, Hancock became a casual acquaintance of young John Adams, whom the Reverend Hancock had baptized in 1734. The Hancocks lived a comfortable life, and owned one slave to help with household work.

After Hancock's father died in 1744, John was sent to live with his uncle and aunt, Thomas Hancock and Lydia (Henchman) Hancock. Thomas Hancock was the proprietor of a firm known as the House of Hancock, which imported manufactured goods from Britain and exported rum, whale oil, and fish. Thomas Hancock's highly successful business made him one of Boston's richest and best-known residents. He and Lydia, along with several servants and slaves, lived in Hancock Manor on Beacon Hill. The couple, who did not have any children of their own, became the dominant influence on John's life.

After graduating from the Boston Latin School in 1750, Hancock enrolled in Harvard College and received a bachelors degree in 1754. Upon graduation, he began to work for his uncle, just as the French and Indian War (1754–1763) had begun. Thomas Hancock had close relations with the royal governors of Massachusetts, and secured profitable government contracts during the war. John Hancock learned much about his uncle's business during these years, and was trained for eventual partnership in the firm. Hancock worked hard, but he also enjoyed playing the role of a wealthy aristocrat, and developed a fondness for expensive clothes.

From 1760 to 1761, Hancock lived in England while building relationships with customers and suppliers. Upon returning to Boston, Hancock gradually took over the House of Hancock as his uncle's health failed, becoming a full partner in January 1763. He became a member of the Masonic Lodge of St. Andrew in October 1762, which connected him with many of Boston's most influential citizens. When Thomas Hancock died in August 1764, John inherited the business, Hancock Manor, two or three household slaves, and thousands of acres of land, becoming one of the wealthiest men in the colonies. The household slaves continued to work for John and his aunt, but were eventually freed through the terms of Thomas Hancock's will; there is no evidence that John Hancock ever bought or sold slaves.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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