John Hancock

Political Figure

Born: 12 January 1737
Died: 8 October 1793
Birthplace: Braintree, Massachusetts
Best known as: The Founding Father with the giant signature
John Hancock's flamboyant signature on the Declaration of Independence made him an American legend. A Harvard graduate, Hancock was a prosperous Boston businessman who nonetheless favored American independence from Great Britain. He became a Massachusetts representative to the Continental Congress, and was elected president of the Continental Congress in 1775. As such, Hancock was the first to sign the Declaration of Independence in July of 1776. He wrote his name at the center of the page in extra-large script. Referring to a bounty the British had put on the heads of revolutionaries, he remarked, "The British ministry can read that name without spectacles; let them double their reward." (Hence, "John Hancock" became a slang term for any signature.) Hancock was later elected the first governor of the commonwealth of Massachusetts, serving in that position from 1780-85 and from 1787 until his death in 1793.
Extra credit: Hancock is buried in the Old Granary Burying Ground in Boston, Massachusetts... The John Hancock insurance company is, indeed, named for Hancock.

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