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John Hancock

By David Streater, Ph.D.

Burke CountyDavid Streater Burke County foundation forward charters of freedom


 This is an American history educational moment of those who made a difference during the Revolutionary War era and how they served our Country.

John Hancock is a renowned Founding Father for several reasons.  One is his king-sized signature on the Declaration of Independence.  Hancock was born in 1737 in Braintree (now Quincy), Massachusetts.  John lost his father when he was seven.  As John’s mother was poor and became homeless, she sent him to live with his wealthy aunt and uncle, Lydia and Thomas Hancock.  Being childless, they showered John with the luxuries of life, including a Harvard education.  Though John missed his mother and siblings, he adored his aunt and uncle and later inherited their wealth.  His life-long friend, Samuel Adams, introduced Hancock to the Revolutionary War efforts, which brought him into conflict with British policies.

Adams and Hancock had a symbiotic relationship.  Hancock financed Adams’ political activities.  Hancock wanted to fight the invading British as a Minuteman, but Adams convinced him he was more valuable as a political leader.  However, Hancock was a businessman at heart and initially became a political leader in protecting his economic interests.

Hancock was the president of Massachusetts before statehood, then served as president of the Second Continental Congress.  Unfortunately, he died at 56, during his 11th year as governor of Massachusetts.   The legend continues that Hancock boldly signed the Declaration of Independence so King George III of England could see it without glasses.  As a result, the phrase “place your John Hancock here when signing essential documents became an idiom.

When rallying citizens against the British, Hancock said: “Let every man do what is right in his own eyes.” John Hancock was a true patriot and Founding Father whose legends about him are truly as great as the person.

Please visit your Charters of Freedom setting in most western North Carolina counties.  A Charters of Freedom setting consists of the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.  They are on permanent display analogous to the Charters of Freedom in the National Archives, Washington, DC.  Please visit our website ( to learn more about our existing settings.

All teachers are encouraged to contact Dr. Streater for information and complementary student education materials to enhance experiential field trips to a Charter of Freedom settings.  Everyone is welcome and urged to obtain a personalized engraved legacy paver for placement at their local Charters of Freedom setting.  Please contact Dr. Streater ( for engraved legacy paver information and complementary educational materials.


Dr. David Streater is the director of education for Foundation Forward.  He is a retired college instructor and administrator, and a retired probation and parole officer/administrator.  David is a criminologist who has an acute history interest, served in the Navy, and is a resident of Burke County, NC.

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Read more about our founding fathers HERE.