President of Second Continental Congress


As President of Congress John Hancock had the opportunity to be the first one to sign the Declaration of Independence.

After the Battles of Lexington and Concord, John Hancock and other members headed to Philadelphia for the Second Continental Congress. The Congress was the first national and autonomous government of the United States. On May, 1775 Hancock was unanimously elected the 4th President by the members of Congress.  He presided Congress while the country was at war until 1777 when he resigned. Being a president was basically a ceremonial position without much power attached to it. His responsibilities included setting the agenda of Congress and serve as an impartial moderator during debates.  As president of Congress he was the first one signing the Declaration of Independence. His iconic signature was the largest on the document and it is at display at the National Archives in Washington D.C.

He used his own money and influence in society to raise funds for George Washington’s army, to buy supplies, arms and uniforms. By 1775 his business, The House of Hancock, had to close however he continued to live a luxurious life. His opponents accused Hancock of wasting state funds to support an extravagant life he could no longer afford. Even Samuel Adams who led him through his political career did not approve of his spending habits.

He led Congress through 1777 when he resigned in order to revive his military career.

Back to John Hancock Homepage