QUEBEC-RESEARCH-L ArchivesArchiver > QUEBEC-RESEARCH > 2005-01 > 1105577306
From: "NetBoie" <>
Subject: Re: [Q-R] Excerpt Of History - John Hancock
Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2005 19:48:32 -0500
Sadly, I must tell you that there have been significant changes in John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company. I worked there for nearly 30 years prior to my retirement in 2000. The John Hancock Tower and complex was sold in 2003 to Beacon Capital Partners, a real estate investment firm, but American. That was followed in 2004 by the sale of John Hancock Financial Services, Inc, parent company of JHInsCo and several other subs to ManuLife of Toronto. Make no mistake, I love Canada only second to my own country and a very close second at that. But I am saddened that this 150 year old company, founded in Boston, one of the most historic cities in the country, a company whose name is so intimately bound to the history of this nation, should be sold to a foreign interest. This is meant as a totally nonpolitical observation.
Dave Constantine in Boston
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Wednesday, January 12, 2005 6:02 PM
Subject: [Q-R] Excerpt Of History
John Hancock (January 12, 1737 (O.S.)–October 8, 1793 (N.S.)) was President
of the Continental Congress, and the first person to sign the United States
Declaration of Independence. According to legend, he signed his name largely
and clearly to be sure King George III could read it, causing his name to
become a slang term for "signature". However, other examples show that Hancock
always wrote his signature this way.
Hancock was born in Braintree, Massachusetts. His father died when he was
young, and he was adopted by his paternal uncle—Thomas Hancock, a highly
successful merchant in New England. He attended Harvard College and received a
business degree in 1754, when he was 17. Upon graduation, he worked for his
uncle. From 1760–1764, Hancock lived in England while building relationships with
customers and suppliers of his uncle's business. Shortly after his return
from England, his uncle died and he inherited the fortune and business, making
him the wealthiest man in Massachusetts at the time.
Despite his wealth, Hancock remained, ethically and virtuously, the same.
With his generosity, he was regarded as a man of integrity and honor.
A Boston selectman and representative to the Massachusetts General Court, his
colonial trade business naturally disposed him to resist the Stamp Act,
which attempted to restrict colonial trading.
The Stamp Act was repealed, but later acts (such as the Townshend Acts) led
to further taxation on common goods. Eventually, Hancock's shipping practices
became more evasive, and he began to smuggle glass, lead, paper and tea. In
1768, upon arriving from England, his sloop Liberty was impounded by British
customs officials for violation of revenue laws. This caused a riot among
some infuriated Bostonians, depending as they did on the supplies onboard.
His regular merchant trade as well as his smuggling practices financed much
of his region's resistance to British authority and his financial
contributions led Bostonians to joke that "Sam Adams writes the letters [to newspapers]
and John Hancock pays the postage" (Fradin & McCurdy, 2002).
At first only a financier of the growing rebellion, he later became a public
critic of British rule. On March 5, 1774, the fourth anniversary of the
Boston Massacre, he gave a speech strongly condemning the British. In the same
year, he was unanimously elected president of the Provisional Congress of
Massachusetts, and presided over its Committee of Safety. Under Hancock,
Massachusetts raised bands of "minutemen"—soldiers who claimed they could be ready to
fight in sixty seconds—and his boycott of tea imported by the British East
India Company eventually led to the Boston Tea Party.
On May 24, 1775, he was elected the third President of the Continental
Congress, succeeding Henry Middleton. He would serve until October 30, 1777, when
he was himself succeeded by Henry Laurens.
In the first month of his presidency, on June 19, 1775, Hancock commissioned
George Washington commander-in-chief of the Army of the United Colonies. A
year later, Hancock sent Washington a copy of the July 4, 1776 congressional
resolution calling for independence as well as a copy of the Declaration of
Independence. He requested Washington have the Declaration read to the
>From 1780–1785, he was governor of Massachusetts. Hancock's skills as orator
and moderator were much admired, but during the American Revolution he was
most often sought out for his ability to raise funds and supplies for American
troops. Despite his skill in the merchant trade, even Hancock had trouble
meeting the Continental Congress's demand for beef cattle to feed the hungry
army. On January 19, 1781, General Washington warned Hancock:
I should not trouble your Excellency, with such reiterated applications on
the score of supplies, if any objects less than the safety of these Posts on
this River, and indeed the existence of the Army, were at stake. By the
enclosed Extracts of a Letter, of Yesterday, from Major Genl. Heath, you will see
our present situation, and future prospects. If therefore the supply of Beef
Cattle demanded by the requisitions of Congress from Your State, is not
regularly forwarded to the Army, I cannot consider myself as responsible for the
maintenance of the Garrisons below West Point, New York, or the continuance of
a single Regiment in the Field.
(United States Library of Congress, 1781.)
During the Battle of Lexington and Concord, General Thomas Gage ordered
Hancock and Samuel Adams arrested for treason. Following the battle a
proclamation was issued granting a general pardon to all who would demonstrate loyalty
to the crown—with the exceptions of Hancock and Adams.
After the war, Hancock represented his state under the Articles of
Confederation. He was the seventh President of the United States in Congress
assembled, from November 23, 1785 to June 6, 1786. He was preceded in that position by
Richard Henry Lee and succeeded by Nathaniel Gorham.
Resuming the governorship of Massachusetts in 1787, he led his state toward
ratification of the federal Constitution. Hancock was also institutional in
creating a navy for the new nation. He died in 1793 while serving his ninth
term as Massachusetts' governor, and was buried at the Granary Burying Groun in
In 1772, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Mora was published. John
Hancock was among those who signed the attestation that Phillis Wheatley, an
African American, was its author. When, in 1773, the book was put on display
in Aldgate, London (having been refused by Boston publishers) it thus became
the first book by an African American to be officially published.
Things named after John Hancock
A number of things have been named after John Hancock:
* John Hancock Insurance, a U.S. insurance company
* The "Old" John Hancock building, also in Boston, Massachusetts
* The John Hancock Tower, the tallest building in Boston, Massachusetts
* The John Hancock Center, major skyscraper in Chicago, Illinois
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