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a Jan. 1776.
-Dr. Thornton was elected president.* When the provincial Congress was organized he was chosen Speaker of the House. In September of the same year, he was appointed a delegate to the Continental Congress for one year, and was permitted to sign his name to the Declaration of Independence, when he took his seat in November. In January, 1776, (prior to his election to the Continental Congress) he was appointed a judge of the Superior Court of his State, having previously been elected a member of the Court of Common Pleas. In December of that year, he was again elected to the general Congress for one year from the twentythird of January, 1777. At the expiration of the term he withdrew from Congress, and only engaged in public affairs as far as his office as judge required his services. He resigned his judgeship in 1782.
In 1789, Dr. Thornton purchased a farm in Exeter, where he resided until the time of his death, which took place while on a visit to his daughters in Newburyport, Massachusetts, on the twenty-fourth of June, 1803. He was then in the eighty-ninth year of his age.
Dr. Thornton was greatly beloved by all who knew him, and to the close of his long life he was a consistent and zealous Christian. He always enjoyed remarkably good health, and, by the practice of those hygeian virtues, temperance and cheerfulness, he attained a patriarchal age.
* This provisional government was intrusted to men little experienced in political matters, and only elected for six months, yet they were men of nerve and prudence, and under the advice and direction of the Continental Congress, they succeeded well.
Dr. Thornton was not the only one to whom this indulgence was granted. There were several members absent when the vote was taken on the adoption of that instrument on the fourth of July, but who, approving of the measure, subsequently signed their names thereto.
At the age of eighty-one he had a severe attack of the hooping cough, which ever afterward caused a weakness of the lungs, and a tendency to pulmonary disease.
Ne of the most distinguished personages of the War of Independence, was John Hancock, who was born near the village of Quincy, in Massachusetts, in the year 1737. His father and grandfather were both
ministers of the gospel. His father is represented as a pious, industrious, and faithful pastor ; a friend of the poor, and a patron of learning. He died
while John was quite an infant, and left him to the care of a paternal uncle, who cherished him with great affection. This relative was merchant in Boston, who had amassed a large fortune, and after having given John a collegiate. education at Harvard College (where at the age
of seventeen years he graduated)a he took him into his counting-room as clerk. His abilities proved such, that, in 1760, he sent him on a business mission to England, where he was present at the funeral rites of George II., and the coronation ceremonies of George III. Soon after his return to America, his uncle died, and left him, at the age of twenty-six, in possession of a princely fortune—one of the largest in the Province of Massachusetts.
He soon relinquished his commercial pursuits, and became an active politician, always taking sides with those whose sentiments were liberal and democratic. He was soon noticed and appreciated by his townsmen in Boston, and was chosen by them one of its selectmen, an office of much consideration in those days. In 1766, he was chosen a representative for Boston in the General Provincial Assembly, where he had for his colleagues somo of the most active patriots of the day, such as Samuel Adams, James Otis, and Thomas Cushing.
Years before Mr. Hancock entered upon public life, the tyrannous measures of the British cabinet had excited the fears of the American colonies, and aroused a sentiment of resistance that long burned in the people's hearts before it burst forth into a flame of rebellion.
These feelings were familiar to the bosom of young Hancock, for he imbibed the principles of liberty with the breath of his infancy, and when circumstances called for a manifestation thereof, they exhibited the sturdy vigor of maturity.
When Parliament adopted those ubnoxious measures
toward America, which immediately succeeded the odious Stamp Act, Mr. Hancock was a member of the Provincial Assembly, and, in union with those patriots before named, and others, he determined not to submit to them. He was one of the first who proposed and adopted nonimportation measures, a system which gradually spread to the other colonies, and produced a powerful effect upon the home government, Open resistance at length became common, and the name of Hancock figures'conspicuously in the commotions that agitated Boston for more than eight years. He became a popular leader and drew upon himself the direst wrath of offended royalty. †
At the time of the Boston Massacre, and during the commotion known as the Tea Riot, Mr. Hancock was bold and active ; and in March, 1774, on the occasion of the anniversary of the “Massacre," he boldly delivered an oration, in which he spoke in most indignant terms of the acts and measures of the British Government.
In 1767, Mr. Hancock was elected a member of the Executive Council, but the choice was so displeasing to the governor, that he rejected him. He was again and again elected, and as often rejected, and this served to increase his popularity among the people. At last the
* One of the earliest acts of open resistance, was on the occaşion of the seizure of the Sloop Liberty, belonging to Mr. Hancock, by the Custom House officers, under the plea that she was loaded with goods contrary to the revenue laws. The people were greatly exasperated; they beat the officers with clubs, and obliged them to fly to Castle William, at the entrance of Boston harbor, for safety. They also burned the Collector's boat, and committed other acts of violence. These transactions gave the royal governor an excuse he wished for to in. troduce British troops into the city. This measure excited the indignation of the people to the highest pitch, and almost daily quarrels took place in the streets be. tween the citizens and the soldiers, which finally resulted in the death of three Americans, in March, 1770, by shots from the soldiers' muskets — an event known as The Boston Massacre.
† In the terms of general pardon offered in 1775, John Hancock and Samuel Adams were excluded, as arch rebels. The night preceding the battle of Lexington, Hancock and Adams lodged together, in that village. An armed party was sent by Governor Gage to arrest them, and they narrowly escaped, for as the sol diers entered one door, they went out through another.
governor, for reasons not easily divined, sanctioned his appointment, and received him into the Council. *
In 1774, the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts unanimously elected Hancock their president. The same year he was chosen a delegate to the Continental Con. gress; and was re-elected to the same station in 1775. When, during the summer of that year, Peyton Randolph left the presidential chair of that body, John Hancock was elected to the station, a gift the most exalted, possessed by the American people. In that office he labored arduously, and filled that chair on the ever memorable Fourth of July, 1776. As President, he first signed the Declaration of Independence, and with his name alone, it first went forth to the world. His bold signature, the very index of his character, has always excited the admiration of the beholder.
Mr. Hancock resigned the office of President of Congress in 1777, owing to the precarious state of his healtht
and the calls of his private affairs, which had been necessarily much neglected, and he hoped to pass the remainder of his life in the retirement of the domestic circle. I But that pleasure he was not suffered long to enjoy by his fellow citizens. He was elected a member of the Convention of Massachusetts to form a Constitution for the government of that commonwealth. Therein he was as. siduous as usual, and upon him was first conferred the honor, under the instrument of their adoption, of being Governor of the Province, or State. He was the first who
* Governor Bernard had tried in vain to win him from the cause of the patriots. In 1767, before his election to the council, he had complimented him wiih a Lieutenant's commission, but Hancock, seeing clearly the nefarious design which it but half concealed, tore up the commission in the presence of the people.
† The ravages of the gout, which was a disease hereditary in his family, made serious inroads upon bis general health while engaged in the arduous services of public station.
He was married in 1773, to Miss Quincy, a relative of the Adams' by whom he had only one son. He died in youth, and consequently Hancock left no heir to perpetuate his namo.