Timeline Description: Although one of the richest men in the American colonies during the time of America's founding, John Hancock was willing to risk his fortune to fight for the cause of freedom. His boldness and his willingness to serve were instrumental in paving the way for America to grow into a great nation.
|1737||John Hancock is born.
On January 12, 1737, John Hancock is born in Braintree, Massachusetts to John and Mary Hancock. His father and grandfather are both ministers.
|1744||Reverend Hancock dies (Spring 1744).
John Hancock's father dies. After spending some time with his grandfather, John is sent to live with his rich Uncle Thomas and Aunt Lydia in Boston, Massachusetts.
|1745||John's education (1745 - 1754).
John is sent to the Latin School in Boston. He completes eight years of schooling in five. At the age of 13 he enters Harvard, graduating in 1754 with a master of arts degree.
|1754||John learns the family business (1754 – 1764).
After college John goes to work for his uncle in his trading company. In the summer of 1760, John travels to London where he stays for a year conducting business. John is made a full partner in the House of Hancock in 1763.
|1764||A rich young man.
Uncle Thomas dies in 1764, leaving his business to John. At age 27, John becomes one of the wealthiest men in America.
|1764||Economic problems (1764 - 1765).
King George III of England imposes the Sugar Act and the Stamp Act to make the colonists pay for the French and Indian War. Some colonists are upset and ransack the offices and homes of tax officials. John, the selectman of the area, did not like the taxes, but he didn't like the violence either.
|1766||More problems with England (1766 - 1768).
The Stamp Act is stopped, but there is now a tax on glass, paint, paper, lead, and tea. In 1768 John refuses to allow tax agents onto one of his ships, causing the Royal Navy to take over the ship. Instead of paying the taxes, Hancock takes the financial loss, which makes him a hero in the eyes of the people.
|1768||Jail time and violence (1768 - 1770).
John is accused of smuggling. He is sent to jail for three months, but is released for lack of evidence. King George sends troops to Boston to keep order. A fight breaks out between some dock workers and the troops. Five men are shot. The colonists call this the Boston Massacre.
|1770||Business, government, and a donation (1770 – 1772).
The tax on glass, paint, paper, and lead are removed, but the tea tax stays. Other merchants begin to trade with England, but John refuses. He is elected moderator of the Boston town meeting in August 1770. In 1772 John gives the city of Boston a new fire engine. He also commands the city's militia.
|1773||Tea party and Intolerable Acts (1773 – 1774).
Angry at the tea tax, several Boston citizens dress like Mohawk Indians and dump the tea into the harbor. King George is so upset he closes harbor and shuts down town meetings. The people call these the Intolerable Acts. In a speech on March 5, 1774, John speaks against British rule.
|1775||War begins (1775 – 1776).
Samuel Adams and John hide out in Lexington because they are considered troublemakers. When troops go to find them and some gunpowder hidden nearby, the two flee. A fight breaks out between troops and colonists, starting the American Revolution. The colonists seek peace, but the king refuses.
|1775||Independence and treason (1775 – 1776).
The colonists send delegates to Philadelphia to meet for the Second Continental Congress. John is elected President. A resolution is proposed to declare independence from England. John signs the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 in big bold letters. He will now be wanted for treason.
|1775||Marriage and children (1775 – 1778).
John marries Dorothy “Dolly” Quincy on August 28, 1775. The following year their daughter Lydia Henchman Hancock is born, but the baby dies in the summer of 1777. On May 21, 1778 their son John George Washington Hancock is born. He dies in1787 after an ice skating accident.
|1778||Congress and the governorship (1778 – 1780).
John works with Congress off and on. He helps pass the Articles of Confederation to help rule the country. When a new constitution is written for Massachusetts, John is elected the governor. He is reelected in 1781, 1782, 1783, and 1784. He resigns in 1785 because of health issues.
|1787||Last days (1787 – 1793).
When the Articles of Confederation fail, a constitution is written and sent to the states to vote on. John helps the new Constitution become the law of the land. Over the next several years, John's health gets worse. On October 8, 1793 John dies at age 56. Thousands attend his funeral. John Hancock will always be remembered as a patriot who boldly stood for the cause of freedom that led to the birth of the United States of America.