Monday, May 14, 2007
“Put your John Hancock right there!” Ever hear that expression? It means putting your signature on a piece of paper. John Hancock is famous for his signature, the big sprawling one at the bottom of the Declaration of Independence. I guess he figured if he was the first signer, he could take up as much room as possible. Although, when you are someone who significantly bankrolled the revolution in Boston, you probably deserve a big space for your “John Hancock.”
That’s right, Hancock was a major money force behind revolutionary activities in Boston. His paternal uncle, a very wealthy merchant in New England, adopted Hancock. John Hancock graduated from Harvard at the age of 17 and went to work for his uncle. He spent considerable time in England for the business. After his uncle died he inherited the business and fortune, making him the richest man in New England. Most men with that wealth were Loyalists, but Hancock was not. Good friends with Samuel Adams he helped with revolutionary activities. He also smuggled glass, lead, and tea on his ships. At one point in 1768 British troops impounded his ship, Liberty, for smuggling goods. This caused an upheaval among citizens of Boston who expected the supplies. Not one of the men on the Tea Party ships, Hancock worked behind the scenes. One only has to realize his relationship with Samuel Adams and smuggling tea, to realize his role in the Boston Tea Party.