John Hancock


Hancock Memorial

Generous, flamboyant, and by the masses adored,

        Hancock escaped the British when they marched on Concord.



       John Hancock was the son of a highly respected minister of the gospel and the grandson of another.  "His father is represented as a pious, industrious, and faithful pastor;"   B. J. Lossing, Signers of the Declaration of Independence, George F. Cooledge & Brother: New York (1848) [reprinted in Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, WallBuilder Press: Aledo, Texas (1995)], pages 22-23.

        Orphaned as a child, and adopted by a wealthy merchant uncle who was childless, Hancock attended Harvard College for a business education and graduated at the age of 17.  He apprenticed to his uncle as a clerk, proving so honest and capable that, in 1760, he was trusted to be sent on a business mission to England.  He came to learn much about the English people and their airs of pumpkinification over the plain and honest colonists.

       When his uncle died, he inherited great wealth as well as influence among a society of friends, mainly loyalists.  Hancock, however, became very intrigued by and involved in revolutionary politics.  The idea of America's independence from Great Britain appealed to him.  The British tried to sway Hancock's loyalty back toward them by offering him a commission as Lieutenant in the militia, which interested him not.  With characteristic showmanship, Hancock tore up the "bribe" in front of an audience.  This puzzled the eldnyng British authorities.  They did not understand philotimists such as Samuel Adams and John Hancock who "could not be frightened, bribed, nor cajoled."  Wives of the Signers, originally published in 1912, republished WallBuilder Press, 1997, pg. 24

        Hancock was president of the Provincial Congress in 1774 and member of the Continental Congress 1775-1778, serving as President of the Congress for over two years.  He was senior major general of the Massachusetts Militia during the Revolutionary War.

       As it was hard for Hancock's friends to survive under the crown's scrutiny, Hancock helped them.  It was said at that time "not less than one hundred families were subsisting on his benevolence."  Ibid, pg. 23

        In circumstances as dark as these, it becomes us, as Men and Christians, to reflect that whilst every prudent measure should be taken to ward off the impending judgments, …at the same time all confidence must be withheld from the means we use; and reposed only on that God rules in the armies of Heaven, and without His whole blessing, the best human counsels are but foolishness… Resolved; …Thursday the 11th of May…to humble themselves before God under the heavy judgments felt and feared, to confess the sins that have deserved them, to implore the Forgiveness of all our transgressions, and a spirit of repentance and reformation …and a Blessing on the … Union of the American Colonies in Defense of their Rights [for which hitherto we desire to thank Almighty God]…That the people of Great Britain and their rulers may have their eyes opened to discern the things that shall make for the peace of the nation…for the redress of America’s many grievances, the restoration of all her invaded liberties, and their security to the latest generations.  John Hancock: "A Day of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer, with a total abstinence from labor and recreation. Proclamation on April 15, 1775"  

       In 1775, British authorities were told by spies that breedbates Hancock and Adams had been storing ammunition and that they were in Lexington.  On April 18, General Gage ordered the march to Concord, upon which witness Paul Revere started his ride.  When John Hancock heard the erendrake Revere, he cried out, "Ring the bell!"  And the bell was rung, and it continued to ring all night.  By daybreak, one hundred and fifty men were awakened and aroused for the defense.     Robert G. Ferris (editor), Signers of the Declaration: Historic Places Commemorating the Signing of the Declaration of Independence, published by the United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service: Washington, D.C. (revised edition 1975), pages 67-69.

And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.  1 Peter 4:8

John Hancock's defiance, July 4, 1776. Lithograph by Currier & Ives, 1876. Reproduction number: LC-USZC2-2711 (color film copy slide)