John Hancock is best known for his signature on the Declaration of Independence. Find out what else he did.
- John Hancock was born in Braintree, Massachusetts in 1737. His father was a colonel in the British military. His family lived comfortably and had one slave.
- John’s father died in 1744 and he was sent to live with his uncle, Thomas Hancock, one of the wealthiest men in the colonies. Thomas and his wife Lydia had no children of their own and were happy to welcome John into their home. John learned his uncle’s trade, later becoming a partner. He graduated from Harvard University in 1754, when he was seventeen years old.
- He spent several years in England working for his uncle’s company. When John’s uncle died in 1764, John inherited his fortune, including his business, is mansion on Beacon Hill, and several thousand acres of land. Now John was one of the wealthiest and most influential men in the colonies.
- The British government was deeply in debt and looking for ways to make money. One of their ideas was to tax the colonies, which angered many people. At first, John, who was loyal to the crown, took a moderate view. But he soon resented the taxes and became involved in politics.
- He became good friends with John Adams even though the two were very different. John Adams was older and more serious. He lived a fairly simple life and practiced Puritan ways. John Hancock enjoyed an extravagant lifestyle. He wore fancy clothes and went to parties. Still, the two could help each other. John Adams had wisdom and vision; John Hancock had money and influence.
- John Hancock served as the president of the Second Continental Congress. He influenced the other men to sign the Declaration of Independence. He signed first and he intentionally signed his name in a large, decorative script. He knew that he would be hanged if the British were victorious, but he didn’t care. His bold signature was a message of defiance to the English.
- Hancock was the governor of Massachusetts two times.
Questions and Answers
Question: Did John Hancock fight in the Revolutionary War?
Answer: He didn’t fight, but he was directly involved in many of the events. He used his wealth and influence as a leader. He was disappointed when John Adams proposed George Washington as the leader of the army, although his vanity and lack of experience probably would have made him ill-equipped for the job.
Watch a video about John Hancock.
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Declan, Tobin. " Facts about John Hancock during the Revolutionary War ." American History for Kids, Aug 2019. Web. 24 Aug 2019. < https://www.americanhistoryforkids.com/john-hancock/ >.
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Tobin, Declan. (2019). Facts about John Hancock during the Revolutionary War. American History for Kids. Retrieved from https://www.americanhistoryforkids.com/john-hancock/