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John Hancock

Gov. John Hancock

  • January 4, 1780 - January 4, 1785
    May 30, 1787 - October 8, 1793
  • Federalist
  • January 12, 1737
  • October 8, 1793
  • Massachusetts
  • Harvard University
  • Married Dorothy Quincy; two children
  • Died in office
  • First to sign the Declaration of Independence


JOHN HANCOCK, the first governor of Massachusetts and the first to sign the Declaration of Independence, was born in Braintree, (Quincy today) Massachusetts on January 12, 1737. After becoming an orphan at early age, Hancock was adopted and raised by his wealthy uncle. Hancock’s education was attained at the Boston Public Latin School, and at Harvard University, where he graduated in 1754. He worked in his uncle’s mercantile business, which he inherited in 1764, when his uncle passed away. Hancock entered into a political career and quickly became known as a prominent force in revolutionary beliefs. He first won election to the Boston Assembly in 1765. He then served as a delegate and president of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress in 1773, was a member of the Continental Congress from 1775 to 1880, served as president of the Continental Congress from 1775 to 1777, and was a member of the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention in 1780. He also served as governor of Massachusetts from 1780 to 1785 and 1787 to 1789. In the 1788 State Convention, Hancock served as president and was instrumental in adding a bill of rights to the Federal Constitution that consequently was ratified. After the adoption of the U.S. Constitution; Hancock was elected to the Massachusetts governorship on April 7, 1789. He won reelection in 1790, 1791, 1792 and 1793. During his tenure, the state’s independence was advocated for. While in office, Governor John Hancock passed away on October 8, 1793. He was buried in the Old Granary Burying Ground in Boston, Massachusetts.


Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 2, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

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