Wednesday, October 8, 2014

John Hancock (1737-1793)

John Hancock was born on January 12, 1737 in Braintree, Massachusetts. As a child he was orphaned and was adopted by a wealthy merchant uncle. He attended Harvard College for a business education. There, he succeeded and graduated at the age of 17. When his uncle died, John Hancock inherited possibly the greatest body of wealth in New England.

He lived a lavish lifestyle and was often faced with criticism for it. Eventually, he would become a major figure in the American Revolution. One of those times would be the Boston Massacre where Hancock led the committee that demanded the removal of British forces. He organized many protests against the Tea Act of 1773. He, along with New England legislator Samuel Adams were seen as major loud mouths by the British government.

Most importantly, Hancock became the first representative to sign the Declaration of Independence, a document which stated that the thirteen colonies were independent of British rule, on July 4, 1776. His signature is also the most prominent and stylishly written on the document. Legend says that he signed it that way so the King would not need glasses to read it. Today, the term "John Hancock" is a noun meaning "a person's signature."

In the year 1778, he led 5,000 Massachusetts soldiers in an attempt to take back Newport, Rhode Island. The mission was a failure but he remained popular and after some time, was elected governor of Massachusetts. Hancock was a candidate for the first U.S. presidential election, however, he only managed to receive four electoral votes out of 138. George Washington, of course, was the winner.

John Hancock remained governor until he died of natural causes on October 8, 1793. He was laid to rest at Boston's Granary Burying Ground.

"John Hancock." Bio. A&E Television Networks, 2014. Web. 08 Oct. 2014.
"Biography." The Life of John Hancock RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Oct. 2014.