John Hancock

(January 23,1737- October 8,1793)


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John Hancock
John Hancock was a wealthy merchant. When he was a young boy he was adopted by his uncle and worked in his uncle's business in London in 1760. John saw the coronation of George III, when he was a man of high-style living whose wealth and reputation would later influence his life in Boston. After his uncle's death on 1764, Hancock was well known as an adequate businessman, but he had a growing interest in politics. In the mid 1760's he and his ally, Samuel Adams, became deeply involved in the resistance movement (1764-1765). After the Stamp Act was initiated, John, an active opponent to it, because of it's disallowing impact on trade, was elected in the Stamp Act Congress. This made him popular enough to gain a seat in the Massachusetts legislature.

John Hancock was also a natural opponent to the Sugar Act. This act taxed products that had sugar in it. In 1768, he had a ship called Liberty and had as part of its cargo a shipment of wine. Without his knowing, merchants brought this wine to Boston Harbor and it was a violation to the Sugar act. The British took the Liberty and brought it to a British warship. Boston's people thought this was a purposeful revenge of the British so they presented demonstrations in the public for John Hancock. He was anxious about the charges against him but in the end the British discontinued the prosecution because they thought it would be risky to proceed the trial. During this time, an angry crowd drove out of the city the British tax commissioners for a brief time. This led the British to bring troops into Boston, which caused the Boston Massacre on March 15, 1770. This event has been know to be called the Liberty Affair. After this event John Hancock joined and became head of the Boston Sons of Liberty.

Samuel Adams was a great influence on John Hancock which helped Hancock to become a driving character to the revolutionary movement. He soon became president to the Massachusetts Provincial Congress from 1774 to 1775. Now John Hancock and Samuel Adams were pronounced demonstrators against the British. The British General Thomas Gage was aware of their antics and he demanded their arrest. Paul Revere warned John Hancock and Samuel Adams to leave before the battles of Lexington and Concord (April 19,1775) occured which began the Revolutionary War.

In May 1775, John Hancock became a member of the Second Continental Congress and was appointed to be president. Now he was eligible to sign the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. John Hancock was the first to sign it and when he did he proclaimed he would sign it so large enough so that King George III could read it without his eyeglasses. He wanted the king to know that he was well devoted to the cause and that he was one of the most responsible and the most opposed to the King's actions during the revolution. The Declaration of Independence was a very significant turn in the history of America, for it finalized and secured the colony's united goal to be independent from the tyrant of England.

John Hancock trusted highly in the revolutionary cause and chanced his riches and life for the American Revolution.

John Hancock signing the Declaration of Independence
John Hancock signing the Declaration of Independence

Analysis of Image


John Trumbull painted the Signing of the Declaration of Independence. His relationship to the topic was that he was living during the era of the Revolutionary war and later joined the continental army. The painting was commissioned in 1817 and bought in 1819. These dates connect to the date of the event in the painting by its portraying the signing of the Declaration of Independence which occured on July 4, 1776. America was free from England at the time this was painted. Long before this was actually painted the colonists were still fighting the Revolutionary War for their freedom from England. Eventually, the colonists won the Revolutionary War and obtained their independence. This painting shows some important historical figures in history like Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and John Hancock. The information portrayed in this painting is similar to what we have learned while doing our research topic because it relates to the events that led to our country's new independence.

Works Cited:


-"Hancock, John". World Book. 2005 ed.
-Pharr, Amy. "Hancock, John." In Gilje, Paul A.,and Gary B. Nash, eds. Encyclopedia of American History: Revolution and New Nation, 1761 to 1812, Revised Edition (Volume III). New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2010. American History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?
ItemID=WE52&iPin=EAHIII176&SingleRecord=True (accessed February 8, 2012).
-Wilson, Richard L. "Hancock, John." Amerian Political Leaders, American Biographies. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2002. American History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?
ItemID=WE52&iPin=APL119&SingleRecord=True (accesssed February 8, 2012).
-"Signing of the Declaration of Independence" John Trumbull. Library of Congress. Prints and Photographs Division. Painting. American History Online. Facts on File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?
ItemID=WE52&iPin=AHI1352&SingleRecord=True (accesssed February 12, 2010).
-"Signing of the Declaration of Independence." American History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE52&iPin=AHI1352&SingleRecord=True (accessed February 12, 2012).
-Gilje, Paul A. "Trumbull, John (artist)." In Gilje, Paul A., and Gary B. Nash, eds. Encyclopedia of American History: Revolution and New Nation, 1761 to 1812, Revised Edition (Volume III). New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2010. American History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp ItemID=WE52&iPin=EAHIII367&SingleRecord=True (accessed February 12, 2012).
-"Interative John Tumbell's "Declaration of Independence"" Quiztree.com. n.p. n.d. Web.12, February, 2012. http://www.quiz-tree.com/Declaration-of-Independence-Trumbull.html
- John Hancock. Virtualology.com. 2000. Web. Image. 13, February, 2012. http://www.johnhancock.org/

By: Amirah Mahdy and Lauryn Cadieux