The turning point in John Hancock’s political career


Hancock’s political career started in 1765 as a Boston Selectman during the dawn of the Stamp Act. He started out with a great advantage, being one of the richest men in Massachusetts and having plenty of influence, he inspired respect because of his wealth. Without doubt he benefited from his business position in order to further his political career and vice versa.

The turning point in Hancock’s political career happened in 1768 when British costumes seized his sloop Liberty and charged him of smuggling, this event is known as the Liberty Affair. From this point in time he started to sympathize with the idea of independence and the radical revolutionary circles of Samuel Adams and Thomas Paine. He advocated for “No taxation without representation”. Hancock was brought to trial and accused of smuggling. His sloop Liberty and its cargo were seized by customs officials and he was fined £9000. He retained the services of John Adams, cousin of Samuel Adams, who managed to have the charges dropped. John Hancock became a central hero under the eyes of radicals and followers of the Sons of Liberty.
Liberty sloop

Hancock’s sloop Liberty was seized and charged of smuggling goods

When the British imposed taxes and duties that affected his own business he surely used his political position and influence to arouse feelings of independence. One clear illustration is the Boston Tea Party. Hancock was a well known smuggler of Dutch tea which sold cheaper than English tea before the Tea Act. The Tea Act made tea cheaper to the consumer thought it monopolized its distribution. With the help of the Sons of Liberty, Hancock was the instigator of the Boston Tea Party. As the moderator of the town meeting the night of the Boston Tea Party he told the crowd “let every man do what is right in his own eyes”. He did not take part in the violent action but approved of it.

Even though his business eventually declined John Hancock dedicated the rest of his life to public service holding different political posts through the end of his life.


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