This Day in History: October 29

On this day in 1777, John Hancock resigns his position as president of the Continental Congress because of a prolonged illness. He was the first member of the Continental Congress to sign the Declaration of Independence and is arguably best known for his bold signature on the historic document.

Having been elected to the Continental Congress in 1774 as a delegate from Massachusetts, Hancock became its president following the resignation of Peyton Randolph in May 1775. During his tenure as president, Hancock presided over some of the most significant moments of the American Revolution, culminating in the signing of the Declaration of Independence in July 1776.

After resigning his position as president, Hancock returned to his home state of Massachusetts, where he continued his work in public service. After helping to establish the state’s first constitution, Hancock was elected first governor of the commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1780 and served for five years. He opted not to run for reelection in 1785, but was elected governor for a second time in 1787 -- a position he held until his death in 1793.

Hancock will forever be remembered for his conspicuous signature on the Declaration of Independence, but few people know that he, as the wealthiest colonist in New England, risked losing everything he had for the cause of American independence.

I had the pleasure of seeing Hancock's tombstone when I visited the Granary Burying Ground in Boston earlier this year. Many of the historic sites along the Freedom Trail shine a light on the pivotal role he played in the fight for American Independence, including the Old South Meeting House and Old State House. Truthfully, even I didn't know much about him before

Did you know anything about Hancock other than the fact his signature is prominent on the Declaration of Independence?

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