Born in Braintree Massachusetts, John Hancock, President of the 2nd and 3rd Continental Congresses was the first to sign the Declaration of Independence. He was a protégé of Samuel Adams, and popular Bostonian, in part due to the support he garnered after his sloop, The Liberty, was seized by the British. Charges of smuggling were brought and then dropped, but the label of smuggler was never fully shaken.
Hancock inherited his uncle’s booming merchant trade and became one of the wealthiest men in the colonies. He read law at Harvard, and used his wealth, skill, and popularity to great effect in support of the struggle for Independency. Post war, he used these qualities and the force of his new position as, first and third, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to achieve Massachusetts’s ratification of the Constitution