John Hancock

January 23, 1737–October 8, 1793

John Hancock was a Founder and the first to sign the Declaration of Independence.

John Hancock, Portrait, Copley

John Hancock was a Founder, and served as a President of the Second Continental Congress.

Biography of John Hancock

John Hancock was a Founding Father, President of the Second Continental Congress, first signer of the Declaration of Independence, and nine-time Governor of Massachusetts. Despite being one of the wealthiest men in the colonies, Hancock risked his life and fortune for the cause of American liberty.

John Hancock — Quick Facts

Key facts and important details about John Hancock for kids doing research and students studying for the AP U.S. History (APUSH) exam.

  • Born January 12, 1737, Braintree (Quincy), Massachusetts.
  • After his father died, he was adopted by his wealthy uncle, Thomas Hancock.
  • Graduated from Harvard College in 1754.
  • Upon the death of his uncle in 1764, he reportedly became the richest person in Massachusetts.
  • Elected to the Boston Assembly, 1766.
  • Publicly condemned the Boston Massacre in a speech presented at the funeral of slain Bostonians in 1770.
  • British order to arrest Hancock and Sam Adams resulted in the Battle of Lexington in 1775.
  • Delegate from Massachusetts to the Continental Congress from 1775 to 1780.
  • Served as President of the Second Continental Congress from May 25, 1775, to October 1777.
  • First signer of the Declaration of Independence.
  • Governor of Massachusetts from 1780 to 1785.
  • Delegate from Massachusetts to the Confederation Congress from 1785 until 1786.
  • Governor of Massachusetts from 1787 to 1793.
  • Served as president of the Massachusetts state convention to ratify the U.S. in 1788.
  • Died October 8, 1793, Quincy, Massachusetts.
  • Buried in the Old Granary Burying Ground in Boston, Massachusetts.