John Hancock Writes Letter for Uncle to Client for Business He Later Inherited
JOHN HANCOCK, Autograph Letter Signed for Thomas Hancock & Company, to Samuel White, June 14, 1763, Boston. 1 p., 7.5? x 9?. General toning; some staining; some tears on folds and edges, affecting inside address; holes in paper, not affecting text; good.
Boston June 14th 1763
We have just Recd a Letter from our Friends in London to whom we Sent Mr Cumings Bill & his power; but they are not able to obtain the Money of the Gentn in Scotland, owing to a mistake in the power as they say, & Desire a new power may be Forwarded, & as there are Several Oppors for London, beg Mr Cumings would come to Town as soon as he can, & Execute another power, we will Forward, & hope shall be able then to Effect it
We are Sir,
Your most obed Servts
Thos Hancock & Compa
Samuel White Esq
After John Hancocks father died in 1742, his paternal uncle Thomas adopted the young boy and raised him. After the younger Hancock graduated from Harvard in 1754, he joined his uncle in the mercantile trade. In this business letter, written a year before his uncles death, John Hancock signed as Thos Hancock & Company. When his uncle died in 1764, John Hancock inherited the business and became one of Bostons wealthiest citizens.
John Hancock (1737-1793) was a Boston merchant and leader of the colonial resistance movement. He was born in Braintree, and his paternal uncle, Thomas Hancock, adopted John after his father died in 1742. John Hancock graduated from Harvard College in 1754 and went to work for his uncle, from whom he learned the mercantile trade. The Hancock family engaged in smuggling with the French West Indies in defiance of the Molasses Act. When his uncle died childless in 1764, John Hancock inherited the lucrative mercantile business and became one of the wealthiest men in New England. Named a Boston selectman in 1765, Hancock opposed the Stamp Act, and upon passage of the Townshend Duties in 1767, he resolved to prohibit British customs officials from setting foot on his ships. Hancock served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives and, in 1774, he was elected president of the revolutionary Provincial Congress. He and Samuel Adams were the targets of General Gages projected campaign against Lexington and Concord in April 1775. During the war, Hancock served as President of the Continental Congress, 1775-1777, and in that capacity signed the Declaration of Independence in bold script on July 4, 1776. After Shays Rebellion embroiled Massachusetts in civil unrest in 1786 and 1787, Hancocks support of the new Constitution was probably responsible for its ratification, by a narrow margin, by Massachusetts. Under a new Massachusetts constitution, Hancock was overwhelmingly elected governor in 1780 and served until his resignation in January 1785. After Shayss Rebellion confounded his successor James Bowdoin, Hancock returned to office as governor in 1787 and pardoned the rebels. He won reelection annually for the rest of his life.
Thomas Hancock (1703-1764) was a merchant in Boston who began in the book trade and expanded into importing and exporting throughout the American colonies. He also smuggled cargoes to evade the Navigation Acts by engaging in forbidden trade with the Dutch Republic and its colonies. He became one of Bostons wealthiest residents, and when his health failed, he passed his business to his nephew John Hancock, whom he had raised from childhood.
Samuel White (1710-1769) was born in Weymouth, Massachusetts, and graduated from Harvard College in 1731. He became a prominent attorney in Taunton, Massachusetts, approximately thirty miles south of Boston.
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