The Signers John Hancock

John Hancock
Paul Revere
Royal American Magazine, Volume I
America, March 1774
Courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society

John Hancock


Boston-raised and Harvard-educated, John Hancock was the wealthiest merchant in New England before the Revolutionary War, but he was drawn into political rebellion by his resentment of British taxation. His fortune had suffered from the Sugar and Stamp Acts, though he still lived in relative luxury. Hancock moved from local to national politics when he was elected a delegate to the Continental Congress. As congressional president he was the first to sign the Declaration of Independence and is said to have remarked about his bold signature, “I write so that George III may read without his spectacles.” Bitterly disappointed over not being chosen to command the army, Hancock nevertheless supported the military effort by helping raise troops “for the Defence of American Liberty.”

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