John Hancock was born on January 23, 1737, in Braintree, Massachusetts. He inherited a booming trading business in Boston and became a major figure in the colonial tension against British rule with Samuel Adams. John Hancock was the first person to sign the Declaration of Independence and soon after he was voted the first governor of Massachusetts.
Fact 1: John Hancock’s father passed away when John was just a young child, his mother took him and his siblings to live with her in-laws in Lexington. Lydia and Thomas Hancock, his aunt and uncle later took John in and since they had no children of their own they adopted him.
Fact 2: In 1754, John Hancock graduated from Harvard College and began working as an apprentice clerk in his uncle’s trading firm. His diligence was admired in 1760 and he took a business trip to London, and witnessed the crowning of George III. His talents were later recognized more when he returned to Massachusetts and he was made a partner of the firm.
Fact 3: Thomas Hancock died in 1764 and left everything he owned to his nephew, because he was his sole heir. John Hancock was only in his 20s and he became the wealthiest man in New England. The year after he inherited everything he participated in public affairs and was elected a selectman in Boston.
Fact 4: John Hancock became a popular hero in 1768 during the resistance to the Townshend duties. His ship Liberty was seized and provoked a riot in Boston, his admirers celebrated when efforts to take legal action against Hancock failed. He was then elected to the legislature the year after which was a clear sign that he was extremely popular.
Fact 5: John Hancock was governor of Massachusetts from 1780 to 1785. His experience as governor was not pleasant because of economic hardship that gripped the state. The governor was debilitated by gout. He returned to office in 1787 after he skipped a term and he surprised everyone by influencing easy going treatment of Shays rebels. The economic chaos was not limited to Massachusetts but caused problems for the young nation which made Hancock open to major change in the form and powers of the central government.
Fact 6: Hancock married Dorothy Quincy, who was the daughter of a Boston merchant and magistrate. They married in 1775 and had two children, a boy and a girl, both of them died before they reached adulthood.
Fact 7: Hancock was a president of the Continental Congress and was the first person to sign the Declaration of Independence and his notorious, stylish signature became famous. Hancock said he wrote his name so that the King of England would not need his glasses to read it. Now, the term “John Hancock” is associated with “signature.”
Fact 8: John Hancock was a candidate in the first United States Presidential election in 1789, but he only received four votes out of a total of 138 casts. George Washington won with 69 votes and John Adams earned the vice presidency with 36 votes.
Fact 9: Hancock was the governor of Massachusetts until he died on October 8, 1793 at the age of 56 years old. He had an elaborate funeral and was buried at the Boston’s Granary Burying Ground.
Fact 10: Britain passed the Tea Act in 1773 which made the Bostonians and colonist extremely angry and as a result they threw a ton of tea into the Boston Harbor. Hancock was thought to have supported the struggle, even though he was not there at the time of the Boston Tea Party.