HANCOCK, John

HANCOCK, John
Image courtesy of Library of Congress
1737–1793

Biography

HANCOCK, John, a Delegate from Massachusetts; born in Quincy, Norfolk County, Mass., January 12, 1737; pursued classical studies; was graduated from Harvard College in 1754; a selectman of Boston several terms; member of the provincial legislature 1766-1772; president of the Provincial Congress in 1774; Member of the Continental Congress 1775-1778 and served as President of the Congress from May 24, 1775, to October 1777; first signer of the Declaration of Independence; served as senior major general of Massachusetts Militia during the Revolutionary War; member of the Massachusetts constitutional convention in 1780; Governor of Massachusetts 1780-1785; was again elected President of the Continental Congress on November 23, 1785, but resigned May 29, 1786, not having served on account of illness; again Governor of Massachusetts from 1787 until his death in Quincy, Mass., October 8, 1793; interment in Old Granary Burying Ground, Boston, Mass.

View Record in the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

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External Research Collections

Library of Congress
Manuscript Division

Washington, DC
Papers: 1774-1865, 0.6 linear foot. The papers include transcripts, made by John Hancock and his secretary, of letters from George Washington, Philip Schuyler, and Benedict Arnold. There are also transcripts of letters made of letter by John Hancock while President of the Continental Congress. There is also John Hancock's original account with the United States, transcripts of a rough journal of the Continental Congress, and various letters.

Brooklyn Historical Society

Brooklyn, NY
Papers: 1776, 1 item. A letter from John Hancock to the New York State Convention on behalf of the Continental Congress, requesting that the New Yorkers marshal their troops to meet the British forces.

Copley Press, Inc.
J. S. Copley Library

La Jolla, CA
Papers: 1765, 1 page. A lottery ticket signed by John Hancock for the June Boston Faneuil-Hall lottery.
Papers: 1775, 5 pages. These letters are copies made by John Hancock of the sharp exchange of letters between George Washington and the British commander, General Thomas Gage, in August 1775 respecting the treatment of Americans held prisoner by the British..
Papers: 1776, 1 page. A note from John Hancock to his wife, Dolly, written around January 1776. The note accompanies a letter to Captain McPherson relating to the death of his son. John Hancock also writes of General Montgomery's death, and how this would have occurred during the assault on Quebec, December 31, 1775.
Papers: 1776, 2 pages. These two resolves by Congress from when John Hancock was President of the Continental Congress. The resolves include requests from November 19 for the Councils of Safety of Pennsylvania and Southern states to "lay up Magazines of military Stores, ammunition & Salt provisions." The verso of the document dates from November 21 and directs recruiting officers of each state "to enlist their Men either for the War, or three years, upon the respective Bounties offered by Congress..."
Papers: 1779, 1 page. A letter from John Hancock to the Board of War of the State of Massachusetts Bay written on November 5, 1779. John Hancock requests delivery of clothing newly made for "the Carolina Negroes." The postscript of the letter reads "We are much in want of a Bell, the old one being destroy'd by the British, I wish your Honors could furnish one."
Papers: ca. 1781-1788, 7 pages. Appointments of Aaron Wood as Justice of the Court of Commons Pleas in the County of Essex, signed by Governor John Hancock.
Papers: 1782, 2 pages. A letter from John Hancock to John Brown written on May 6, 1782. John Hancock, Governor of Massachusetts, requests reimbursement for his services as President of the Continental Congress. He writes "I want only to be made whole, I never Expected nor Desired to make Money by the Contest..."

Duke University
Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library

Durham, NC
Papers: 1774-1838, 9 items. The papers include a letter from Captain James Scott to Colonel John Hancock, from 1774, reporting the safe arrival of the ship Hayley, and commenting on reaction to the Boston Tea Party in London. Another letter from William Lee to John Hancock, from 1779, concerns his movements and his plans for defending New York City and discussing the treatment of Tories in the area. There are also receipts for pew rent, postage, bridge tolls, and taxes, some pertaining to Torry Hancock.

University of Pennsylvania
H. H. Furness Memorial Library, Special Collections, Van Pelt Library

Philadelphia, PA
Papers: 1791, 1 item. A receipt, dated July 7, 1791, from John Hancock (Boston) to Furness and Walley for payment of 12 pounds 10 shillings, for one quarter rent of his store.

Massachusetts Historical Society

Boston, MA
Papers: In the Hancock Family Papers, 1747-1865, 3 boxes. Other authors include John Hancock. An item list to the papers is available in the repository.
Papers: In the Hancock Family Papers II, 1744-1804, 2 boxes. The papers include receipts related to Harvard College finances during John Hancock's tenure as Treasurer, and other letters written to him. An unpublished guide to the papers is available in the repository.

The Morgan Library
Department of Literary and Historical Manuscripts

New York, NY
Papers: 1775, 1 item. A broadside, signed by John Hancock as President of the United Colonies, for an order of appointment of Benjamin Pattee as Lieutenant in the 5th regiment.
Papers: 1775, 1 item. A document signed by John Hancock, from December 26, 1775, in reference to the arrest of soldiers for small private debts.
Papers: 1776, 1 item. A resolutions passed by the United Congress on December 20, 1776 signed by John Hancock. The resolution called for the appointment of commissioners to various European courts.
Papers: 1777, 1 item. A letter from John Hancock to Thomas Jefferson written on October 25, 1777.
Papers: 1778, 1 item. A letter from John Hancock to Richard Caswell written on February 16, 1778. John Hancock writes regarding a convention.
Papers: 1779, 1 item. A letter from John Hancock to David Jeffries written on June 25, 1779. John Hancock writes concerning his client, Miss Winslow.
Papers: 1782, 1 item. A letter from John Hancock to William Salisbury written on March 20, 1782.
Papers: 1782, 1 item. A document signed by John Hancock, Governor of Massachusetts, dated May 3, 1782. The document appoints Ezekiel Price as a justice of the peace.
Papers: 1782, 1 item. A Thanksgiving discourse from John Hancock, dated November 1782.
Papers: 1787, 1 item. A proclamation signed by John Hancock dated September 29, 1787. The proclamation appoints William Blanchard to the rank of colonel.
Papers: 1788, 1 item. A deed signed by John Hancock on May 20, 1788. The deed transfers some land to the executors of the will of John Erving.
Papers: 1792, 1 item. A letter from John Hancock to Elbridge Gerry and others, written on March 13, 1792.

New England Historic Genealogical Society
R. Stanton Avery Special Collections Department

Boston, MA
Papers: 1776, 1 item. A letter from John Hancock to James Athearn written on June 22, 1776. The letter introduces and recommends privateers and supporters of the patriot cause.
Papers: 1783, 1 item. A letter from John Hancock to Mrs. Hancock written on September 30, 1783. John Hancock writes about various social calls and health concerns, and lists comestibles and other items sent to Mrs. Hancock.

New-York Historical Society
Manuscript Collection

New York, NY
Papers: 1776, 1 page. A document signed by John Hancock on July 22, 1776, consisting of three resolutions of Congress, concerning the exchange of prisoners, particularly Colonel Ethan Allen.

Portsmouth Athenaeum

Portsmouth, NH
Papers: 1783, 1 item. A letter from John Hancock to Jacob Sheafe written on October 18, 1783, introducing Major Segord of the cavalry. John Hancock mentions his son's recovery from smallpox.

The Rosenbach Museum & Library

Philadelphia, PA
Papers: 1758, 1 item. A letter from John Hancock to General Whitmore from November 6-10, 1758.
Papers: 1783, 1 page. A letter from John Hancock to Samuel Eliott written on November 17, 1783. John Hancock requests "an American Device upon Revolution principles" to be painted on the panel of the coach he has ordered, and tells Samuel Eliott of his intention to resign as governor.

State University of New York at Buffalo
Poetry and Rare Books Collections

Buffalo, NY
Papers: 1758-1760, 3 items. The papers contain drafts of letters from John Hancock to General Whitmore.
Papers: 1758-1760, 4 items. The papers contain drafts of letters from John Hancock to Colonel Wilmott.
Papers: 1760, 1 item. A letter from John Hancock to Daniel Shea written on March 3, 1760.
Papers: 1762, 1 item. Correspondence from John Hancock.
Papers: 1777, 1 item. A letter from John Hancock to Robert Morris written on October 5, 1777. The letter is housed in the Lockwood Collection.

University of Chicago Library
Butler-Gunsaulus Collection

Chicago, IL
Papers: In the Miscellaneous Manuscripts Collection, 1764, 1 item. A note from John Hancock to Joseph Jackson written on December 27, 1764.
Papers: 1788, 1 item. A document signed by John Hancock on March 26, 1788, appointing James Sullivan as justice to keep the peace.

Washington and Lee University Library
Special Collections

Lexington, VA
Papers: 1791, 1 item. A letter from John Hancock to Henry Knox written on March 24, 1791. John Hancock writes regarding sending 2 quintals of fish to be shipped from Boston to Philadelphia.
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Bibliography / Further Reading

Adams, John. James Otis, Samuel Adams, and John Hancock. John Adams's Tributes to These as the Three Principal Movers and Agents of the American Revolution. Boston, MA: Directors of the Old South Work, 1907.

Adler, David A., and Michael S. Adler. A Picture Book of John Hancock. Illustrated by Ronald Himler New York: Holiday House, 2007.

Allan, Herbert S. John Hancock, Patriot in Purple. New York: Macmillan Co., 1948.

Baxter, William T. The House of Hancock; Business in Boston, 1724-1775. 1945. Reprint, New York: Russell & Russell, 1965.

Biographical Sketch of the Life & Character of His Late Excellency Governor Hancock. Boston: Printed and Sold by N. Coverly, [1793?].

Brandes, Paul D. (Paul Dickerson). John Hancock's Life and Speeches: A Personalized Vision of the American Revolution, 1763-1793. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 1996.

Brown, A. E. John Hancock, His Book. Boston: Lee and Shepard, 1898.

Farnum, Mabel. John Hancock and His Times. Boston, MA: Ginn, 1964.

Finkelstein, Robert Zeus. "Merchant, Revolutionary, and Statesman: A Re-Appraisal of the Life and Public Service of John Hancock, 1737-1793." Ph. D. diss., University of Massachusetts-Amherst, 1981.

Fowler, William M. The Baron of Beacon Hill: A Biography of John Hancock. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1979.

Fradin, Dennis B. John Hancock: First Signer of the Declaration of Independence. Illustrations by Tom Dunnington. Hillside, N. J.: Enslow Publishers, 1989.

Fritz, Jean. Will You Sign Here, John Hancock? Pictures by Trina Schart Hyman. New York: Coward, McCann, & Geoghegan, 1976.

Gaines, Ann. John Hancock: President of the Continental Congress. Philadephia, PA: Chelsea House Publishers, 2001.

Gerson, Noel B. Yankee Doodle Dandy: A Biographical Novel of John Hancock. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1965.

Higginson, Stephen. Ten Chapters in the Life of John Hancock. Now first published since 1789. New York: N.p., 1857.

Kallen, Stuart A. John Hancock. Edina, MN: ABDO Pub., 2001.

Kjelle, Marylou M. The Life and Times of John Hancock. Hockessin, DE: Mitchell Lane Publishers, 2007.

Koslow, Philip. John Hancock: A Signature Life. New York: F. Watts, 1998.

Lee, Susan. John Hancock. Illustrated by Chuck Mitchell. Chicago, IL: Childrens Press, 1974.

Musick, John R. (John Roy). John Hancock, A Character Sketch. With an essay on the patriot by G. Mercer Adam together with anecdotes, characteristics and chronology by L.B. Vaughan and others. 1898. Reprint, Milwaukee: H.G. Campbell Publishing Company, 1903.

Nolan, Jeanette C. John Hancock: Friend of Freedom. Illustrated by Louis F. Cary. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 1966.

Ransom, Candace. John Hancock. Minneapolis, MN: Lerner Publications, Co., 2005.

Sears, Lorenzo. John Hancock, The Picturesque Patriot. With a new introduction and preface by George Athan Billias. 1912. Reprint, Boston: Gregg Press, 1972.

Somervill, Barbara A. John Hancock: Signer for Independence. Minneapolis, MN: Compass Point Books, 2005.

Umbreit, Kenneth B. "John Hancock," in Founding Fathers: Men Who Shaped Our Tradition., 162-175. 1941. Reprint edition, Port Washington, N. Y.: Kennikat Press, Inc., 1969.

Unger, Harlow G. John Hancock: Merchant King and American Patriot. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2000.

Wagner, Frederick. Patriot's Choice; The Story of John Hancock. New York: Dodd, Mead, [1964].

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