John Hancock might be known for his massive signature on the US Declaration of Independence, but there is much more to this man than the size of his autograph. As a former president of the Continental Congress, Hancock helped to shape the United States into a nation while they were still structured as colonies. Here is what you need to know about him.
1. He Loved Money
John Hancock might not have had much love for the King of England, but some said he had about the same amount of money as the royal family. Originally from Massachusetts, his family had built up a massive fortune from the shipping business between Europe and the colonies. After Hancock’s uncle died, he would become the richest man in all of New England.
2. A Smart Cookie
Just because Hancock was from a wealthy family doesn’t mean that everything was just handed to him. He was incredibly smart, being able to pick up on virtually any concept in just minutes. This allowed Hancock to be able to graduate from Harvard by the age of 17 and helped him dominate the world of early colonial business.
3. Out of Character
John Hancock is unique in American history because of the fact that he was a patriot. His wealth would have generally made him a loyalist instead, but his sympathies were with independence. Hancock hated the fact that his wealth was being taxed without representation, so he fought for his own reasons and helped to shape a country in doing so.
4. A Wanted Man
Because of his wealth and position, the English saw his conduct as a deep betrayal. Hancock was literally hunted by the British during and after the war. The feeling was quite mutual, however, because the patriots had to talk Hancock out of picking up a rifle and joining the rebels on the battlefield.
5. A Fanciful Story
It’s said that Hancock signed his name so large because he wanted the King to see it, but this isn’t true. His signature is simply an indication of his position as president. There was only one person in the room when the document was signed as well and if independence didn’t happen, he would have likely been hanged for treason.
There was a lot on the line for John Hancock. It’s safe to say that everything worked out pretty well.