Hancock, John

Hancock, John

biographical name

(born Jan. 12, 1737, Braintree, Mass.—died Oct. 8, 1793, Quincy, Mass., U.S.) American Revolutionary leader. He entered the mercantile business of his wealthy uncle in Boston in 1754. His adherence to the patriot cause dates from the Stamp Act, which, as a leading merchant, he protested. In 1769, soon after the British seized one of his ships, he was elected to the Massachusetts legislature, and he chaired the Boston town committee formed after the Boston Massacre. He became president of the provincial congress (1774–75), and he and Samuel Adams led the Massachusetts Patriots. In 1775 both were forced to flee from British troops sent to arrest them for treason. Hancock was a member of the Continental Congress (1775–80), serving as its president (1775–77); the bold flourish with which he signed the Declaration of Independence has made his name synonymous with “signature.” As governor of Massachusetts (1780–85, 1787–93), he presided over the state's ratification of the Constitution in 1788.

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