John Hancock
American statesman and Patriot
John Hancock
John Hancock was a merchant, statesman, and prominent Patriot of the American Revolution. He served as president of the Second Continental Congress and was the first and third Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He is remembered for his large and stylish signature on the United States Declaration of Independence, so much so that the term "John Hancock" has become, in the United States, a synonym for signature.
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Insurers Offer New Products, Juicy Benefits - Insurance News Net (press release)
Google News - over 5 years
In the survivorship life category, John Hancock Life Insurance Company launched a lower-cost universal survivorship policy in June, with protection SUL premiums that are 10 percent to 15 percent lower than the industry average, according to Michael
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A healthy corporation - Boston Globe
Google News - over 5 years
John Hancock Financial employees took part in a boot camp workout earlier this month. It is part of the company's wellness program. (Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe) By Marion Davis Three years ago, Amanda Spring weighed almost 230 pounds
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Fullington crushes John Hancock with ease - Cordele Dispatch
Google News - over 5 years
Sparta — Looking more in mid-season form than anticipated, Fullington Academy's Trojans opened their 2011 season with a runaway 48-0 romp Friday night past John Hancock Academy's Rebels. “I'ma little surprised by the final score,” said victorious
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Hilary Ley, John Hancock - New York Times
Google News - over 5 years
Hilary Ann Ley and John Cottrell Hancock were married Saturday morning at the Church of the Atonement in Tenafly, NJ The Rev. Lynne Bleich Weber, an Episcopal priest and the church's rector, performed the ceremony. The bride, 44, is the director of
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John Hancock Retirement Plan Services Receives 14 Marketing Awards from the ... - PR Newswire (press release)
Google News - over 5 years
25, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- John Hancock Retirement Plan Services (JHRPS) has received 14 awards from The Insurance and Financial Communicators Association (IFCA) for marketing and communications creativity, design and writing. Now in its 79th year,
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John Hancock Closed End Funds Release Earnings Data - PR Newswire (press release)
Google News - over 5 years
19, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The nine John Hancock Closed-End Funds listed in the table below announced the earnings(1) for the three months ended July 31, 2011. The same data for the comparable three month period ended July 31, 2010 is also available
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John Hancock Retirement Plan Services Launches Education Resource Center ... - Sacramento Bee
Google News - over 5 years
By John Hancock Retirement Plan Services BOSTON, Aug. 16, 2011 -- /PRNewswire/ -- John Hancock Retirement Plan Services (RPS) has introduced the John Hancock Education Resource Center, a website and materials ordering portal, designed to help plan
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John Hancock Annuities Announces Awards and Promotions to Sales Team - PR Newswire (press release)
Google News - over 5 years
12, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- John Hancock Annuities announced the promotions of two of the organization's top sales professionals during the Summer National Sales Meeting in Washington, DC last month. John McGuinness was promoted to Regional Senior Vice
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Manulife hedging returns it to profit, shares rise - Reuters
Google News - over 5 years
The company, which owns US insurer John Hancock, posted a profit of C$490 million ($495 million) in the quarter, as aggressive hedging reduced its exposure to volatile stock and bond markets. A year ago, Manulife lost C$2.4 billion. ... - -
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Is Brian Burke Preparing for Another Move on His Symbolic Chessboard? - Bleacher Report
Google News - over 5 years
Schenn however, has yet to sign his John Hancock to the dotted line. One could argue that these signings/trades, are strictly for depth purposes, but what if Burke has something up his sleeve? What if these players were brought in to fill the voids of
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John Hancock Hedged Equity & Income Fund Announces Exercise of the ... - PR Newswire (press release)
Google News - over 5 years
BOSTON, July 13, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- John Hancock Advisers, LLC announced today the issuance of 600000 common shares of John Hancock Hedged Equity & Income Fund (NYSE: HEQ) (the "Fund") at a price of $20 per share pursuant to exercise of the
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Foundation for the National Archives Joins Archives' July 4th Celebration ... - PR Newswire (press release)
Google News - over 5 years
The public program followed the Foundation's annual Promise of America breakfast at the National Archives, sponsored by John Hancock Financial for the 7th year in a row. Outside the Archives, many visitors stood in line for a chance to kick off their
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John Hancock Investor Sentiment Index Declines Four Points to 18 -
Google News - over 5 years
The John Hancock Investor Sentiment Index fell four points in the second quarter to 18, down from 22 in the first quarter, when John Hancock debuted the index. Americans said they are worried about rising
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A Severe Case of Portfolio Whiplash
NYTimes - over 5 years
MARKETS continued to zigzag in the second quarter as investors sought risk, then shunned it, then sought it again -- depending on whether they were unnerved by economic and political developments or hopeful for benign resolutions to them. Ultimately, not much was resolved, but there may have been more sleep lost than money, as stocks were little
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Auditors and Audit Reports: Is The Firm's “John Hancock” Enough? - Forbes (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
Write long enough about an industry – especially a regulated, utility-like industry such as accounting – and you tend to see the same challenges and proposed solutions come up over and over again. The names and faces may change but
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Robinson: Signing your John Hancock - Savannah Morning News
Google News - over 5 years
By GEVERYL ROBINSON Yes, that John Hancock, one of the Founding Fathers and the first signer of The Declaration of Independence. His signature is so iconic that the two (his name and signature) are synonymous. What caused me to think about him though
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John Hancock Closed-End Funds Declare Monthly Distributions - Sacramento Bee
Google News - over 5 years
By John Hancock Funds A portion of a Fund's current distribution may include sources other than net investment income, including a return of capital. Investors should understand that a return of capital is not a distribution from income or gains of a
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Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of John Hancock
  • 1793
    Died on October 8, 1793.
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  • 1789
    Hancock was put forth as a candidate in the 1789 U. S. presidential election.
    More Details Hide Details As was the custom in an era where political ambition was viewed with suspicion, Hancock did not campaign or even publicly express interest in the office; he instead made his wishes known indirectly. Like everyone else, Hancock knew that George Washington was going to be elected as the first president, but Hancock may have been interested in being vice president, despite his poor health. Hancock received only four electoral votes in the election, however, none of them from his home state; the Massachusetts electors all voted for another Massachusetts native, John Adams, who received the second-highest number of electoral votes and thus became vice president. Although Hancock was disappointed with his performance in the election, he continued to be popular in Massachusetts. His health failing, Hancock spent his final few years as essentially a figurehead governor. With his wife at his side, he died in bed on October 8, 1793, at 56 years of age. By order of acting governor Samuel Adams, the day of Hancock's burial was a state holiday; the lavish funeral was perhaps the grandest given to an American up to that time.
  • 1788
    In January 1788, Hancock was elected president of the Massachusetts ratifying convention, although he was ill and not present when the convention began.
    More Details Hide Details Hancock mostly remained silent during the contentious debates, but as the convention was drawing to close, he gave a speech in favor of ratification. For the first time in years, Samuel Adams supported Hancock's position. Even with the support of Hancock and Adams, the Massachusetts convention narrowly ratified the Constitution by a vote of 187 to 168. Hancock's support was probably a deciding factor in the ratification.
  • 1787
    After the uprising, Hancock was reelected in 1787, and he promptly pardoned all the rebels.
    More Details Hide Details Hancock was reelected to annual terms as governor for the remainder of his life.
  • 1786
    He sent Congress a letter of resignation in 1786.
    More Details Hide Details In an effort to remedy the perceived defects of the Articles of Confederation, delegates were first sent to the Annapolis Convention in 1786 and then to the Philadelphia Convention in 1787, where they drafted the United States Constitution, which was then sent to the states for ratification or rejection. Hancock, who was not present at the Philadelphia Convention, had misgivings about the new Constitution's lack of a bill of rights and its shift of power to a central government.
  • 1785
    When he had resigned as governor in 1785, Hancock was again elected as a delegate to the Continental Congress, known as the Confederation Congress after the ratification of the Articles of Confederation in 1781.
    More Details Hide Details Congress had declined in importance after the Revolutionary War, and was frequently ignored by the states. Congress elected Hancock to serve as its president, but he never attended because of his poor health and because he was not interested.
    Hancock governed until his surprise resignation on January 29, 1785.
    More Details Hide Details Hancock cited his failing health as the reason, but he may have become aware of growing unrest in the countryside and wanted to get out of office before the trouble came. Hancock's critics sometimes believed that he used claims of illness to avoid difficult political situations. Historian James Truslow Adams wrote that Hancock's "two chief resources were his money and his gout, the first always used to gain popularity, and the second to prevent his losing it". The turmoil that Hancock avoided ultimately blossomed as Shays's Rebellion, which Hancock's successor James Bowdoin had to deal with.
  • 1780
    He was a charter member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1780.
    More Details Hide Details After much delay, the new Massachusetts Constitution finally went into effect in October 1780. To no one's surprise, Hancock was elected Governor of Massachusetts in a landslide, garnering over 90% of the vote. In the absence of formal party politics, the contest was one of personality, popularity, and patriotism. Hancock was immensely popular and unquestionably patriotic given his personal sacrifices and his leadership of the Second Continental Congress. James Bowdoin, his principal opponent, was cast by Hancock's supporters as unpatriotic, citing among other things his refusal (which was due to poor health) to serve in the First Continental Congress. Bowdoin's supporters, who were principally well-off commercial interests from Massachusetts coastal communities, cast Hancock as a foppish demagogue who pandered to the populace. Hancock governed Massachusetts through the end of the Revolutionary War and into an economically troubled postwar period, repeatedly winning reelection by wide margins. Hancock took a hands-off approach to governing, avoiding controversial issues as much as possible. According to William Fowler, Hancock "never really led" and "never used his strength to deal with the critical issues confronting the commonwealth."
  • 1778
    Hancock returned to Boston in July 1778, motivated by the opportunity to finally lead men in combat. Back in 1776, he had been appointed as the senior major general of the Massachusetts militia. Now that the French fleet had come to the aid of the Americans, General Washington instructed General John Sullivan of the Continental Army to lead an attack on the British garrison at Newport, Rhode Island, in August 1778.
    More Details Hide Details Hancock nominally commanded 6,000 militiamen in the campaign, although he let the professional soldiers do the planning and issue the orders. It was a fiasco: French Admiral d'Estaing abandoned the operation, after which Hancock's militia mostly deserted Sullivan's Continentals. Hancock suffered some criticism for the debacle but emerged from his brief military career with his popularity intact.
    On July 9, 1778, Hancock and the other Massachusetts delegates joined the representatives from seven other states in signing the Articles of Confederation; the remaining states were not yet prepared to sign, and the Articles would not be ratified until 1781.
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    Hancock rejoined the Continental Congress in Pennsylvania in June 1778, but his brief time there was unhappy.
    More Details Hide Details In his absence, Congress had elected Henry Laurens as its new president, which was a disappointment to Hancock, who had hoped to reclaim his chair. Hancock got along poorly with Samuel Adams, and missed his wife and newborn son.
    Hancock and Washington maintained a good relationship after the alleged incident, and in 1778 Hancock named his only son John George Washington Hancock.
    More Details Hide Details Hancock admired and supported General Washington, even though Washington politely declined Hancock's request for a military appointment.
  • 1777
    In December 1777, he was reelected as a delegate to the Continental Congress and as moderator of the Boston town meeting.
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    In October 1777, after more than two years in Congress, President Hancock requested a leave of absence.
    More Details Hide Details He asked George Washington to arrange a military escort for his return to Boston. Although Washington was short on manpower, he nevertheless sent fifteen horsemen to accompany Hancock on his journey home. By this time Hancock had become estranged from Samuel Adams, who disapproved of what he viewed as Hancock's vanity and extravagance, which Adams believed were inappropriate in a republican leader. When Congress voted to thank Hancock for his service, Adams and the other Massachusetts delegates voted against the resolution, as did a few delegates from other states. Back in Boston, Hancock was reelected to the House of Representatives. As in previous years, his philanthropy made him popular. Although his finances had suffered greatly because of the war, he gave to the poor, helped support widows and orphans, and loaned money to friends. According to biographer William Fowler, "John Hancock was a generous man and the people loved him for it. He was their idol."
    Hancock and Congress returned to Philadelphia in March 1777, but were compelled to flee six months later when the British occupied Philadelphia.
    More Details Hide Details Hancock wrote innumerable letters to colonial officials, raising money, supplies, and troops for Washington's army. He chaired the Marine Committee, and took pride in helping to create a small fleet of American frigates, including the USS Hancock, which was named in his honor. Hancock was president of Congress when the Declaration of Independence was adopted and signed. He is primarily remembered by Americans for his large, flamboyant signature on the Declaration, so much so that "John Hancock" became, in the United States, an informal synonym for signature. According to legend, Hancock signed his name largely and clearly so that King George could read it without his spectacles, but the story is apocryphal and originated years later. Contrary to popular mythology, there was no ceremonial signing of the Declaration on July 4, 1776. After Congress approved the wording of the text on July 4, the fair copy was sent to be printed. As president, Hancock may have signed the document that was sent to the printer John Dunlap, but this is uncertain because that document is lost, perhaps destroyed in the printing process. Dunlap produced the first published version of the Declaration, the widely distributed Dunlap broadside. Hancock, as President of Congress, was the only delegate whose name appeared on the broadside, although the name of Charles Thomson, secretary of the Continental Congress, but not a delegate, was also on it as "Attested by" implying that Hancock had signed the fair copy.
    In 1777, a Harvard committee headed by James Bowdoin, Hancock's chief political and social rival in Boston, sent a messenger to Philadelphia to retrieve the money and records.
    More Details Hide Details Hancock was offended, but he turned over more than £16,000, though not all of the records, to the college. When Harvard replaced Hancock as treasurer, his ego was bruised, and for years he declined to settle the account or pay the interest on the money he had held, despite pressure put on him by Bowdoin and other political opponents. The issue dragged on until after Hancock's death, when his estate finally paid the college more than £1,000 to resolve the matter. Hancock served in Congress through some of the darkest days of the Revolutionary War. The British drove Washington from New York and New Jersey in 1776, which prompted Congress to flee to Baltimore, Maryland.
  • 1776
    Their daughter Lydia Henchman Hancock was born in 1776 and died ten months later.
    More Details Hide Details Their son John was born in 1778 and died in 1787 after suffering a head injury while ice skating. While president of Congress, Hancock became involved in a long-running controversy with Harvard. As treasurer of the college since 1773, he had been entrusted with the school's financial records and about £15,000 in cash and securities. In the rush of events at the onset of the Revolutionary War, Hancock had been unable to return the money and accounts to Harvard before leaving for Congress.
  • 1775
    When Congress recessed on August 1, 1775, Hancock took the opportunity to wed his fiancée, Dorothy "Dolly" Quincy.
    More Details Hide Details The couple was married on August 28 in Fairfield, Connecticut. John and Dorothy would have two children, neither of whom survived to adulthood.
    With the war underway, Hancock made his way to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia with the other Massachusetts delegates. On May 24, 1775, he was unanimously elected President of the Continental Congress, succeeding Peyton Randolph after Henry Middleton declined the nomination.
    More Details Hide Details Hancock was a good choice for president for several reasons. He was experienced, having often presided over legislative bodies and town meetings in Massachusetts. His wealth and social standing inspired the confidence of moderate delegates, while his association with Boston radicals made him acceptable to other radicals. His position was somewhat ambiguous, because the role of the president was not fully defined, and it was not clear if Randolph had resigned or was on a leave of absence. Like other presidents of Congress, Hancock's authority was mostly limited to that of a presiding officer. He also had to handle a great deal of official correspondence, and he found it necessary to hire clerks at his own expense to help with the paperwork. In Congress on June 15, 1775, Massachusetts delegate John Adams nominated George Washington as commander-in-chief of the army then gathered around Boston. Years later, Adams wrote that Hancock had shown great disappointment at not getting the command for himself. This brief comment from 1801 is the only source for the oft-cited claim that Hancock sought to become commander-in-chief. In the early 20th century, historian James Truslow Adams wrote that the incident initiated a lifelong estrangement between Hancock and Washington, but some subsequent historians have expressed doubt that the incident, or the estrangement, ever occurred. According to historian Donald Proctor, "There is no contemporary evidence that Hancock harbored ambitions to be named commander-in-chief.
    After attending the Provincial Congress in Concord in April 1775, Hancock and Samuel Adams decided that it was not safe to return to Boston before leaving for Philadelphia.
    More Details Hide Details They stayed instead at Hancock's childhood home in Lexington. Gage received a letter from Lord Dartmouth on April 14, 1775, advising him "to arrest the principal actors and abettors in the Provincial Congress whose proceedings appear in every light to be acts of treason and rebellion". On the night of April 18, Gage sent out a detachment of soldiers on the fateful mission that would spark the American Revolutionary War. The purpose of the British expedition was to seize and destroy military supplies that the colonists had stored in Concord. According to many historical accounts, Gage also instructed his men to arrest Hancock and Adams; if so, the written orders issued by Gage made no mention of arresting the Patriot leaders. Gage apparently decided that he had nothing to gain by arresting Hancock and Adams, since other leaders would simply take their place, and the British would be portrayed as the aggressors.
    Before Hancock reported to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, the Provincial Congress unanimously reelected him as their president in February 1775.
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    Hancock was one of Boston's leaders during the crisis that led to the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War in 1775.
    More Details Hide Details He served more than two years in the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, and as president of Congress, was the first to sign the Declaration of Independence. Hancock returned to Massachusetts and was elected governor of the Commonwealth, serving in that role for most of his remaining years. He used his influence to ensure that Massachusetts ratified the United States Constitution in 1788.
  • 1774
    Hancock's multiple roles gave him enormous influence in Massachusetts, and as early as January 1774 British officials had considered arresting him.
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    On December 1, 1774, the Provincial Congress elected Hancock as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress to replace James Bowdoin, who had been unable to attend the first Congress because of illness.
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    Over the next few months, Hancock was disabled by gout, which would trouble him with increasing frequency in the coming years. By March 5, 1774, he had recovered enough to deliver the fourth annual Massacre Day oration, a commemoration of the Boston Massacre.
    More Details Hide Details Hancock's speech denounced the presence of British troops in Boston, who he said had been sent there "to enforce obedience to acts of Parliament, which neither God nor man ever empowered them to make". The speech, probably written by Hancock in collaboration with Adams, Joseph Warren, and others, was published and widely reprinted, enhancing Hancock's stature as a leading Patriot. Parliament responded to the Tea Party with the Boston Port Act, one of the so-called Coercive Acts intended to strengthen British control of the colonies. Hutchinson was replaced as governor by General Thomas Gage, who arrived in May 1774. On June 17, the Massachusetts House elected five delegates to send to the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia, which was being organized to coordinate colonial response to the Coercive Acts. Hancock did not serve in the first Congress, possibly for health reasons, or possibly to remain in charge while the other Patriot leaders were away.
  • 1773
    But whatever their differences, Hancock and Adams came together again in 1773 with the renewal of major political turmoil.
    More Details Hide Details They cooperated in the revelation of private letters of Thomas Hutchinson, in which the governor seemed to recommend "an abridgement of what are called English liberties" to bring order to the colony. The Massachusetts House, blaming Hutchinson for the military occupation of Boston, called for his removal as governor. Even more trouble followed Parliament's passage of the 1773 Tea Act. On November 5, Hancock was elected as moderator at a Boston town meeting that resolved that anyone who supported the Tea Act was an "Enemy to America". Hancock and others tried to force the resignation of the agents who had been appointed to receive the tea shipments. Unsuccessful in this, they attempted to prevent the tea from being unloaded after three tea ships had arrived in Boston Harbor. Hancock was at the fateful meeting on December 16, where he reportedly told the crowd, "Let every man do what is right in his own eyes." Hancock did not take part in the Boston Tea Party that night, but he approved of the action, although he was careful not to publicly praise the destruction of private property.
  • 1772
    Hutchinson had dared to hope that he could win over Hancock and discredit Adams. To some, it seemed that Adams and Hancock were indeed at odds: when Adams formed the Boston Committee of Correspondence in November 1772 to advocate colonial rights, Hancock declined to join, creating the impression that there was a split in the Whig ranks.
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    In April 1772, Hutchinson approved Hancock's election as colonel of the Boston Cadets, a militia unit whose primary function was to provide a ceremonial escort for the governor and the General Court.
    More Details Hide Details In May, Hutchinson even approved Hancock's election to the Council, the upper chamber of the General Court, whose members were elected by the House but subject to veto by the governor. Hancock's previous elections to the Council had been vetoed, but now Hutchinson allowed the election to stand. Hancock declined the office, however, not wanting to appear to have been co-opted by the governor. Nevertheless, Hancock used the improved relationship to resolve an ongoing dispute. To avoid hostile crowds in Boston, Hutchinson had been convening the legislature outside of town; now he agreed to allow the General Court to sit in Boston once again, to the relief of the legislators.
  • 1770
    The British troops remained, however, and tensions between soldiers and civilians eventually resulted in the killing of five civilians in the Boston Massacre of March 1770.
    More Details Hide Details Hancock was not involved in the incident, but afterwards he led a committee to demand the removal of the troops. Meeting with Bernard's successor, Governor Thomas Hutchinson, and the British officer in command, Colonel William Dalrymple, Hancock claimed that there were 10,000 armed colonists ready to march into Boston if the troops did not leave. Hutchinson knew that Hancock was bluffing, but the soldiers were in a precarious position when garrisoned within the town, and so Dalrymple agreed to remove both regiments to Castle William. Hancock was celebrated as a hero for his role in getting the troops withdrawn. His reelection to the Massachusetts House in May was nearly unanimous. After Parliament partially repealed the Townshend duties in 1770, Boston's boycott of British goods ended. Politics became quieter in Massachusetts, although tensions remained. Hancock tried to improve his relationship with Governor Hutchinson, who in turn sought to woo Hancock away from Adams's influence.
  • 1768
    The second trial began in October 1768, when charges were filed against Hancock and five others for allegedly unloading 100 pipes of wine from the Liberty without paying the duties.
    More Details Hide Details If convicted, the defendants would have had to pay a penalty of triple the value of the wine, which came to £9,000. With John Adams serving as his lawyer, Hancock was prosecuted in a highly publicized trial by a vice admiralty court, which had no jury and did not always allow the defense to cross-examine the witnesses. After dragging out for nearly five months, the proceedings against Hancock were dropped without explanation. Although the charges against Hancock were dropped, many writers later described him as a smuggler. The accuracy of this characterization has been questioned. "Hancock's guilt or innocence and the exact charges against him", wrote historian John W. Tyler in 1986, "are still fiercely debated." Historian Oliver Dickerson argued that Hancock was the victim of an essentially criminal racketeering scheme perpetrated by Governor Bernard and the customs officials. Dickerson believed that there is no reliable evidence that Hancock was guilty in the Liberty case, and that the purpose of the trials was to punish Hancock for political reasons and to plunder his property. Opposed to Dickerson's interpretation were Kinvin Wroth and Hiller Zobel, the editors of John Adams's legal papers, who argued that "Hancock's innocence is open to question", and that the British officials acted legally, if unwisely. Lawyer and historian Bernard Knollenberg concluded that the customs officials had the right to seize Hancock's ship, but towing it out to the Romney had been illegal.
    The next incident proved to be a major event in the coming of the American Revolution. On the evening of May 9, 1768, Hancock's sloop Liberty arrived in Boston Harbor, carrying a shipment of Madeira wine.
    More Details Hide Details When custom officers inspected the ship the next morning, they found that it contained 25 pipes of wine, just one fourth of the ship's carrying capacity. Hancock paid the duties on the 25 pipes of wine, but officials suspected that he had arranged to have more wine unloaded during the night to avoid paying the duties for the entire cargo. Hancock had earlier been heard refuting the authority of the customs officials, although two tidesmen who had stayed on the ship overnight gave a sworn statement that nothing had been unloaded. One month later, while the British warship HMS Romney was in port, one of the tidesmen changed his story, saying that he had been forcibly held on the Liberty on the orders of John Hancock while it had been illegally unloaded. When released, the tidesmen were subjected to "such threats and denunciation of vengeance, death and destruction in case they divulged the affair." The following day the Liberty was again boarded and seized when officials found 20 barrels of tar and 200 barrels of oil on board for which no bond had been posted and no permit to load obtained.
    On April 9, 1768, two customs employees (called tidesmen) boarded Hancock's brig Lydia in Boston Harbor.
    More Details Hide Details Hancock was summoned, and finding that the agents lacked a writ of assistance (a general search warrant), he did not allow them to go below deck. When one of them later managed to get into the hold, Hancock's men forced the tidesman back on deck. Customs officials wanted to file charges, but the case was dropped when Massachusetts Attorney General Jonathan Sewall ruled that Hancock had broken no laws. Later, some of Hancock's most ardent admirers would call this incident the first act of physical resistance to British authority in the colonies and credit Hancock with initiating the American Revolution.
  • 1766
    After Bostonians learned of the impending repeal of the Stamp Act, Hancock was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in May of 1766.
    More Details Hide Details Hancock's political success benefited from the support of Samuel Adams, the clerk of the House of Representatives and a leader of Boston's "popular party", also known as "Whigs" and later as "Patriots". The two men made an unlikely pair. Fifteen years older than Hancock, Adams had a somber, Puritan outlook that stood in marked contrast to Hancock's taste for luxury and extravagance. Apocryphal stories later portrayed Adams as masterminding Hancock's political rise so that the merchant's wealth could be used to further the Whig agenda. Historian James Truslow Adams portrayed Hancock as shallow and vain, easily manipulated by Adams. Historian William M. Fowler, who wrote biographies of both men, argued that this characterization was an exaggeration, and that the relationship between the two was symbiotic, with Adams as the mentor and Hancock the protégé. After the repeal of the Stamp Act, Parliament took a different approach to raising revenue, passing the 1767 Townshend Acts, which established new duties on various imports and strengthened the customs agency by creating the American Customs Board. The British government believed that a more efficient customs system was necessary because many colonial American merchants had been smuggling. Smugglers violated the Navigation Acts by trading with ports outside of the British Empire and avoiding import taxes. Parliament hoped that the new system would reduce smuggling and generate revenue for the government.
  • 1765
    Hancock emerged as a leading political figure in Boston just as tensions with Great Britain were increasing. In March 1765, he was elected as one of Boston's five selectmen, an office previously held by his uncle for many years.
    More Details Hide Details Soon after, Parliament passed the 1765 Stamp Act, a tax on legal documents, such as wills, that had been levied in Britain for many years but which was wildly unpopular in the colonies, producing riots and organized resistance. Hancock initially took a moderate position: as a loyal British subject, he thought that the colonists should submit to the act, even though he believed that Parliament was misguided. Within a few months, Hancock had changed his mind, although he continued to disapprove of violence and the intimidation of royal officials by mobs. Hancock joined the resistance to the Stamp Act by participating in a boycott of British goods, which made him popular in Boston.
  • 1764
    When Thomas Hancock died in August 1764, John inherited the business, Hancock Manor, two or three household slaves, and thousands of acres of land, becoming one of the wealthiest men in the colonies.
    More Details Hide Details The household slaves continued to work for John and his aunt, but were eventually freed through the terms of Thomas Hancock's will; there is no evidence that John Hancock ever bought or sold slaves. After its victory in the Seven Years' War (1756–1763), the British Empire was deep in debt. Looking for new sources of revenue, the British Parliament sought, for the first time, to directly tax the colonies, beginning with the Sugar Act of 1764. The earlier Molasses Act of 1733, a tax on shipments from the West Indies, had produced hardly any revenue because it was widely bypassed by smuggling, which was seen as a victimless crime. Not only was there little social stigma attached to smuggling in the colonies, but in port cities, where trade was the primary generator of wealth, smuggling enjoyed considerable community support, and it was even possible to obtain insurance against being caught. Colonial merchants developed an impressive repertoire of evasive maneuvers to conceal the origin, nationality, routes and content of their illicit cargoes. This included the frequent use of fraudulent paperwork to make the cargo appear legal and authorised. And much to the frustration of the British authorities, when seizures did happen local merchants were often able to use sympathetic provincial courts to reclaim confiscated goods and have their cases dismissed. For instance, Edward Randolph, the appointed head of customs in New England brought 36 seizures to trial from 1680 to the end of 1682 – and all but two of these were acquitted.
  • 1762
    He became a member of the Masonic Lodge of St. Andrew in October 1762, which connected him with many of Boston's most influential citizens.
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  • 1760
    From 1760 to 1761, Hancock lived in England while building relationships with customers and suppliers.
    More Details Hide Details Upon returning to Boston, Hancock gradually took over the House of Hancock as his uncle's health failed, becoming a full partner in January 1763.
  • 1750
    After graduating from the Boston Latin School in 1750, Hancock enrolled in Harvard College and received a bachelor's degree in 1754.
    More Details Hide Details Upon graduation, he began to work for his uncle, just as the French and Indian War (1754–1763) had begun. Thomas Hancock had close relations with the royal governors of Massachusetts and secured profitable government contracts during the war. John Hancock learned much about his uncle's business during these years and was trained for eventual partnership in the firm. Hancock worked hard, but he also enjoyed playing the role of a wealthy aristocrat and developed a fondness for expensive clothes.
  • 1744
    After Hancock's father died in 1744, John was sent to live with his uncle and aunt, Thomas Hancock and Lydia (Henchman) Hancock.
    More Details Hide Details Thomas Hancock was the proprietor of a firm known as the House of Hancock, which imported manufactured goods from Britain and exported rum, whale oil, and fish. Thomas Hancock's highly successful business made him one of Boston's richest and best-known residents. He and Lydia, along with several servants and slaves, lived in Hancock Manor on Beacon Hill. The couple, who did not have any children of their own, became the dominant influence on John's life.
  • 1737
    According to the Gregorian calendar, John Hancock was born on January 23, 1737; according to the Julian calendar then in use, the date was January 12, 1736.
    More Details Hide Details He was born in Braintree, Massachusetts, in a part of town that eventually became the separate city of Quincy. He was the son of the Reverend John Hancock of Braintree and Mary Hawke Thaxter (widow of Samuel Thaxter Junior), who was from nearby Hingham. As a child, Hancock became a casual acquaintance of young John Adams, whom the Reverend Hancock had baptized in 1735. The Hancocks lived a comfortable life, and owned one slave to help with household work.
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