John Hancock, born January 12, 1737, was a Boston merchant and one of the richest men in America at the time of the Revolution. A fiery Patriot, he never hesitated to risk his wealth for the cause of independence. The British considered him a dangerous traitor and reportedly put a price of £500 on his head.
Hancock served as president of the Continental Congress and was the first to sign the Declaration of Independence in 1776. He signed in bold letters and, according to legend, remarked as he wrote, “There! His Majesty can now read my name without glasses. And he can double the reward on my head!”
John Hancock marveled that the Lord gave this country “a name and a standing among the nations of the world.” He wrote: “I hope and pray that the gratitude of [Americans’] hearts may be expressed by a proper use of those inestimable blessings, by the greatest exertions of patriotism, by forming and supporting institutions for cultivating the human understanding, and for the greatest progress of the arts and sciences, by establishing laws for the support of piety, religion and morality. . . . and by exhibiting in the great theatre of the world, those social, public and private virtues which give more dignity to a people, possessing their own sovereignty, than crowns and diadems afford to sovereign princes.”