According to legend, John Hancock was the first to sign the Declaration of Independence. He purposefully signed it directly beneath the words of Thomas Jefferson, boldly and large. It is the largest signature on the document. It is said that he wanted to insure the King of England himself would not need spectacles in order to see Hancock's name. He lived from Jan. 23rd, 1737 to Oct. 8th, 1793.

Hancock was acting President of the Continental Congress. He was born in Quincy, Massachusets to a clergyman. He was educated in Harvard, studied business under the tutelage of his uncle, and was the most successful businessman in New England prior to the Revolutionary War. Despite the attempts of Britain's customs department to ruin his success before during and after the Boston Massacre, Hancock fought charges that were set against him. However, the continuing barrage of accusations and litigation by Great Britain weakened his financial situation and also his liberty in other ways. Samuel Adams convinced him that the answer was to assist politically and militarily in making the colonies free. He became a key leader in the revolution, and an outspoken antagonist to the british government. In 1775, the ride of Paul Revere warned Hancock and Adams of the battles of Lexington and Concord in time for them to escape alive.

Elected to the Second Continental Congress, he was chosen president in 1776, and it was then that he signed the Declaration. He resigned a year later however, because his ego got the better of him. He was disappointed that he was not chosen to be Commander in Chief of the Continental Army. However he continued to be active in Massachusets politics until 1785.

Hancock was a vain, ambitious, flamboyant and conceited man who also had powerful financial connections, amazing charisma and a special way with people as a public orator. Adams used both Hancock's strengths and weaknesses to his own advantage, calling him an "essential character" during the Revolutionary War. Hancock generally focused his actions on assisting the people of his constituency in Massachusets, and was a true Statesman in Congress. Still, he was also a true patriot, and his efforts and words were key in ratifying the U.S. Constitution and making America free.

John Hancock's pronounced signature on the Declaration of Independence has made his name a synonym for "signature", and there's a couple of legends as to why his name is signed so much larger than everyone else's. Some have said it was a willful challenge to King George III, others that he was daring British sympathizers to make him their first bounty. The real reason, it turns out, is very simple: Hancock's signature was the only one on it for nearly a month.

When the Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776, John Hancock was president of the Continental Congress which adopted it. His signature authenticated the document before it was sent to the thirteen colonial legislatures for approval (and never directly to George I). His signature was attested by Charles Thomson, secretary of the Continental Congress, and printed copies were made and sent out.

Some of these printed copies still exist in the National Archives, and it can be plainly seen that John Hancock's name is the only one attached. The rest of the delegates would not sign the original Declaration until August 2, 1776.

John Hancock is also the name of a sportscaster on CBC radio in Canada. What he does is quite a trick.

Most sports being of interest to listeners because of their local appeal ("How did the home team do?"), the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's radio news service doesn't go to the trouble of providing recaps of last night's games and matches on the morning national news, which airs on stations across the country every hour on the hour from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m.

But because the CBC's listenership is overwhelmingly middle aged and bourgeois, the local stations don't generally have enough sports work to be done to justify employing local sportscasters. So John Hancock is a sort of local sports guy for every CBC morning radio show across the country that wants him.

He works in Halifax, on the east coast, and spends about five minutes every hour on each station, coming back several times a morning at, say, 20 minutes after the hour to do a new sports update. He chats with the host in, say, Edmonton as if he were there, then proceeds to run down the sports news that would matter to listeners there: a big game of national interest, if there is one (if, for example, the Stanley Cup hockey finals are on, or a Canadian baseball team is in the World Series hunt), then the purely local teams (the Edmonton Trappers AAA baseball team, for instance) all the way down to the local collegiate teams. So, sitting in Halifax, he'll tell Edmontonians how the University of Alberta women's volleyball team did last night, if they played.

And then it's onto the Calgary station, then Winnipeg, and so on.

The CBC doesn't keep Hancock's home base a secret -- he'll mention the weather there from time to time, for instance -- but it might be possible to listen for years without realizing that he's not downtown in your city.

Hancock was born in Galt, Ontario, and has covered every Olympic Games since 1980.

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