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On This Day

John Hancock

Born January 23, 1737

39 years later, he became the first Founding Father to sign the Declaration of Independence, making his bold signature one of the most famous in American history.

On This Day

John Hancock

  • Orphan turned Harvard graduate.
  • Adopted by a wealthy uncle with a shipping fortune.
  • His ship “Liberty” got seized by Brits for smuggling. John Adams, his good friend & lawyer, got charges dismissed.
  • Influential in the American Revolution, though not in battle; known for his ability to raise $$ for troops (ex: supplies & food).
On This Day

His Signature

  • John Hancock not only signed the Declaration of Independence first, his signature is the largest.
  • Rumors suggested he did this to make sure King George could read it.
  • More Likely: As one of few Founding Fathers to sign the doc on July 4th, 1776 (most signed Aug. 2nd), it WAS a bold move (and he had a huge blank space).
On This Day

“We think we live in a dangerous, uncertain time, and we do. But theirs was worse, and they had no sure way of knowing how things would turn out, any more than we do…To sign your name to the Declaration of Independence was to declare yourself a traitor to the British Crown. If caught by enemy forces, you would almost certainly be hanged.”

Historian David McCullough, op-ed on the Founding Fathers of 1776
On This Day

Your signature is often referred to as your "John Hancock" because of Hancock's prominent signature on the Declaration of Independence. Hancock, born in Massachusetts, loved his home state & served 9 terms as governor.

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