He is also noted for having signed the Attestation concerning Phillis Wheatley being responsible for Poems on Various Subjects, Religioius and Moral in 1773 which was put on display in Aldgate, London when the first book by an African American was published.
A Boston selectman and representative to the Massachusetts General Court, Hancock financed much of his region's resistance to British authority. In addition, he presided over insurgent groups including the Provisional Congress of Massachusetts (1774) and its Committee of Safety.
John Hancock was also the third President of the Continental Congress, from May 24, 1775, until October 30, 1777. He was preceded in office by Henry Middleton and succeeded by Henry Laurens. On June 19, 1775, Hancock commissioned George Washington commander-in-chief of the Army of the United Colonies.
A year later, Hancock sent Washington a copy of the July 4, 1776 congressional resolution calling for independence as well as a copy of the Declaration of Independence. He requested Washington have the Declaration read to the Continental Army.
Hancock's skills as orator and moderator were much admired, but during the Revolution he was most often sought out for his ability to raise funds and supplies for American troops. Yet, while governor of Massachusetts even Hancock had trouble meeting the Continental Congress's demand for beef cattle to feed the hungry army. On January 19, 1781, General Washington warned Hancock:
Resuming the governorship of Massachusetts, he led his state toward ratification of the federal Constitution. Hancock was also active in creating a navy for the new nation. He died in 1793 while serving his ninth term as Massachusetts' governor.