John Hancock Signer of the Declaration of Independence - President of the
Continental Congress - 7th President of the United States in
Congress Assembled - A Stan Klos Biography
1776 President of the Continental Congress
7th President of the United States
in Congress Assembled
November 23, 1785 to June 6, 1786
Hancock, John statesman and
signer of the Declaration of Independence, born in
Quincy, Massachusetts, 12 January, 1737; died there, 8 October, 1793, was
graduated at Harvard in 1754. On the death of his father he was adopted by his
uncle, Thomas, who took him into his counting-house and left him a large
fortune, the nephew succeeding to the business.
In 1766 he was chosen to
represent Boston in the Massachusetts house of representatives with James Otis,
Thomas Cushing, and Samuel Adams, "where," says Eliot, "he blazed a
Whig of the first magnitude." The seizure of his sloop, the "Liberty,"
for an alleged evasion of the laws of trade, caused a riot, the royal
commissioners of customs barely escaping with their lives. After the affray
known as the "Boston massacre," 5 March, 1770, he was a member of the
committee to demand of the royal governor the removal of the troops from the
city; and at the funeral of the slain he delivered an address so glowing and
fearless in its reprobation of the conduct of the soldiery and their leaders as
greatly to offend the governor.
Now Available in Paperback
In 1774 he was elected, with
Samuel Adams, a member of the Provincial congress
at Concord, Massachusetts, and subsequently became its president. It was to
secure the persons of these two patriots that the expedition to Concord in
April, 1775, which led to the battle of Lexington, was undertaken by the
authorities. It was, however, futile, as they succeeded in making their escape.
On 12 June, following, General Gage issued a proclamation offering pardon to all
the rebels, excepting Samuel Adams and John Hancock, "whose offences," it
was declared, "are of too flagitious a nature to admit of any other
consideration than that of condign punishment."
Mr. Hancock was a
delegate from Massachusetts to the Continental congress from 1775 till 1780, and
from 1785 till 1786, serving as president of that body from May, 25, 1775, till
October, 1777. The Declaration of Independence, as first published, bore only
his name as president. In 1776 he was commissioned major-general of the
Massachusetts militia. In the autumn of 1776 congress gave Washington
instructions to destroy Boston if it should be necessary to do so in order to
dislodge the enemy. Mr. Hancock then wrote to that officer to the effect that,
although probably the largest property-owner in the city, "he was anxious the
thing should be done if it would benefit the cause." John Adams said of his
character: "Nor were his talents or attainments inconsiderable. They were far
superior to many who have been much more celebrated. He had a great deal of
political sagacity and insight into men. He was by no means a contemptible
scholar or orator. Compared with Washington, Lincoln, or Knox, he was learned."
Address leaf panel free franked
"John Hancock" by him at lower left and addressed in his hand "To The
Honorable General Ward & General Thomas at Cambridge & Roxbury." The panel
measures approximately 4 ¾ by 3 ¼ inches oblong. Undated, but certainly
1775 or 1776 because Ward and Thomas were both commissioned in the spring
of 1775; General Thomas left Roxbury on March 22, 1776 and died that June
in Canada. This is an unusual John Hancock signature as it lacks the
flourish of other letters and documents signed at this crucial time in his
presidency of the Congress. --
In August, 1778, commanded the contingent of that state in the expedition
against Rhode Island.
John Hancock's Continental Congress Chronology is as follows:
1775 - May 24
Elects John Hancock President of the Continental
May 26 Resolves to send a second petition to the king and to put
"these colonies . . . into a state of defense.”
Resolves against an "expedition or incursion" into Canada.
June 2 Receives Massachusetts proposal to
take up civil government. June 7
Resolves to observe July 20 as a Fast Day. June 9
Endorses assumption of civil authority in Massachusetts by the provincial
convention. June 10 Resolves to organize
a Continental Army. June 15 Appoints
George Washington commander in chief of the army. June 22 Resolves to emit $2
million in Continental currency. June 27
Approves invasion of Canada.
Approves petition to the king. July 6
Approves "Declaration on Taking Arms." July 8
Approves address to inhabitants of Great Britain.
July 12 Organizes three departments for Indian affairs.
July 21 Ignores Benjamin Franklin's
proposed Articles of Confederation. July 27
Resolves to establish a system of military hospitals.
July 31 Adopts response to Lord North's
Adjourns to September 5.
Archives quorum and reconvenes; Georgia fully
represented for first time. September 19
Appoints Secret Committee to purchase military supplies abroad.
September 22 Appoints committee to consider
"the state of the trade of America." September 27
Orders publication of corrected journals of Congress.
September 29 Appoints Committee of
Conference to confer with General Washington and various New England
Receives Rhode Island proposal for building an American fleet.
October 5 Recommends to General Washington
a plan to intercept British supply ships. October 6
Recommends that provincial governments arrest persons deemed a danger to "the
liberties of America." October 7 Adopts
report on fortification of the Hudson River October
13 Resolves to fit out armed vessels; appoints Naval Committee.
October 17 Appoints John Morgan director
general of hospitals, replacing Benjamin Church upon his arrest for
correspondence with the enemy; appoints committee to estimate damages
inflicted by British arms. October 24
Adjourns to attend funeral of Peyton Randolph.
October 26 Publishes resolution authorizing exports in exchange for
arms. October 30 Increases naval
authorization and expands Naval Committee.
Reaffirms general embargo on exports, extended explicitly to March 1, 1776;
commends provincial authorities for ignoring parliamentary trade exemptions
designed to undermine American unity. November 2
Appoints Committee to the Northward to confer with General Schuyler; receives
report of Committee of Conference.
November 3 Recommends
formation of new provincial government in New Hampshire.
November 4 Adopts resolutions for
reconstitution of General Washington's army in Massachusetts, and for defense
of South Carolina and Georgia. November 9
Adopts new oath of secrecy; publishes report of king's refusal to receive
Olive Branch Petition. November 10
Adopts plan for promoting manufacture of saltpetre; orders enlistment of first
two battalions of marines. November 13
Orders publication of new "Rules and Regulations" for Continental Army.
November 15 Receives account of capture of
St. Johns. November 16 Adopts resolves
to improve delegates' attendance in Congress.
November 17 Adopts regulations pertaining to prisoners of war.
November 22 Authorizes exemptions to ban on
exports to Bermuda. November 23 Adopts
resolves to improve peaceful relations with the Six Nations.
November 25 Adopts regulations pertaining
to prize cases. November 28 Adopts
"Rules for the Regulation of the Navy of the United Colonies"; adopts measures
for the defense of North Carolina. November 29
Appoints Committee of Secret Correspondence; resolves to emit $3,000,000 in
Continental currency; receives account of capture of Montreal.
Sends Benjamin Harrison to Maryland to promote defense of
the Chesapeake. December 4
Recommends formation of new provincial government in Virginia; appoints
committee to dissuade New Jersey Assembly from separately petitioning king.
December 6 Publishes response to king's
August 23 proclamation declaring colonies in state of rebellion.
December 8 Resolves to confine John
Connolly for plotting with Lord Dunmore against western Virginia.
December 13 Authorizes construction of 13
ships for Continental Navy. December 14
Appoints Marine Committee. December 15
Receives plan for creation of committee to sit during recess of Congress.
December 20 Recommends cessation of
hostilities between Connecticut and Pennsylvania settlers in Wyoming Valley.
December 22 Authorizes an attack on
Boston; appoints Esek Hopkins commander in chief of Continental Navy.
December 26 Adopts plan for redemption of
Continental bills of credit. December 29
Adopts resolutions for importing and manufacturing salt.
December 30 Recommends Secret Committee
negotiations with Pierre Penet and Emanuel de Pliarne for European arms and
1776 - January
1 Recommends "the reduction of St. Augustine."
January 3 Recommends a quarantine of Queens
County, N.Y., for refusal to send deputies to the New York Convention.
January 6 Adopts regulations for the
division of marine prizes. January 8
Orders reinforcements to Canada; receives news of the king's speech from the
throne (October 27, 1775) and of the destruction of
Norfolk, Va. January 11 Resolves that
any person refusing to accept Continental currency "shall be. . . treated as
an enemy of his country. " January 16
Limits black recruitment to the reenlistment of "free negroes who have served
faithfully in the army at Cambridge. " January 17
Receives news of General Montgomery's defeat at Quebec; appoints a committee
to prepare regulations for opening American ports on March 1, 1776.
January 19 Orders additional reinforcements
to Canada in response to General Montgomery's defeat.
January 24 Orders publication of a public
statement on the repulse at Quebec and of a new "Letter to the Inhabitants of
the Province of Canada." January 25
Orders preparation of a monument and delivery of a funeral oration in tribute
to the memory of General Montgomery. January 26
Appoints a committee "to repair to New York, to consult and advise ...
respecting the immediate defence of the said city."
January 27 Directs the Secret Committee to
import goods for use of the commissioners of Indian affairs "in order to
preserve the friendship and confidence of the Indians."
January 31 Forbids enlistment of prisoners
Recommends that additional efforts be made to instruct and convert the
Indians. February 13 Exempts inter-colonial
trade in naval stores from general trade restrictions; tables draft "address
to the inhabitants of these Colonies." February 15
Appoints a committee to proceed to Canada to promote support for the American
cause. February 17 Appoints the Treasury
Committee; resolves to emit additional $4 million; appoints Gen. Charles Lee
to the Canadian command. February 23 Appoints
committees to promote the manufacture of firearms and the production of salt
petre, sulphur, and powder. February 26
Prohibits sailing of vessels loaded for Great Britain, Ireland, or the British
West Indies. February 27 Establishes separate
military departments for the middle and southern colonies.
February 29 Receives General Washington's
letter on Lord Drummond's peace mission.
Appoints Gen. Charles Lee to command of the southern department.
March 2 Committee of Secret Correspondence
appoints Silas Deane agent to France to transact business "commercial and
political." March 4 Removes the sailing
ban on vessels loaded for Great Britain, Ireland, or the British West Indies
and desiring to import arms and ammunition. March 6
Appoints Gen. John Thomas to the Canadian command.
March 9 Appoints a committee to study the "state of the colonies in
the southern department"; denies military officers authority to impose test
oaths. March 14 Adopts resolves on
defending New York and disarming the "notoriously disaffected" in all the
colonies. March 16 Declares May 17 "a
day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer. " March 20
Adopts instructions for the commissioners appointed to go to
Canada. March 23 Adopts a declaration
and resolutions on privateering, subjecting British ships to seizure as lawful
prizes. March 25 Adopts a report on
augmenting the defenses of the southern department.
March 27 Attends the funeral of Samuel
Ward. April 1 Establishes the Treasury Office.
Commends General Washington and his troops for conducting the successful siege
and forcing the evacuation of Boston. April 3
Adopts "Instructions" for privateers. April 6
Opens the trade of the colonies "to any parts of the world which are not under
the dominion of the [King of Great Britain]"; prohibits the importation of
slaves. April 11 Delivers a speech to
Captain White Eyes of the Delaware Indians. April
15 Urges cultivation of harmony between the Connecticut and
Pennsylvania settlers in the Wyoming Valley. April
16 Requests the Maryland Council of Safety to arrest Gov.William
Eden. April 23 Appoints Continental
"agents for prizes in the several colonies"; instructs the commissioners to
Canada "to publish an Address to the people of Canada."
April 29 Instructs a committee "to prepare
a plan of an expedition against Fort Detroit."
April 30 Appoints the Indian Affairs Committee.
Postpones prescribing procedures for receiving peace commissioners rumored to
be en route to America; re solves to raise $10 million "for the purpose of
carrying on the war for the current year" and appoints a "ways and means"
committee. May 9 Resolves to emit an
additional $5 million. May 10 Recommends
that the colonies "adopt such government as shall, in the opinion of the
representatives of the people, best conduce to the happiness and safety of
their constituents." May 15 Adopts a
preamble to its May 10 resolution on
establishing new governments, asserting the necessity of suppressing "the
exercise of every kind of authority" under the British crown.
Requests General Washington's presence in Philadelphia to consult on
forthcoming campaign. May 17 Adjourns to
observe Fast Day. May 21 Receives news
of George III's negotiations for nearly 17,000 German mercenaries to be sent
to America. May 22 Adopts measures to
bolster American forces in Canada; resolves to emit additional $5 million in
bills of credit. May 24 Begins
consultations with Generals Washington, Gates, and Mifflin on forthcoming
campaign. May 25 Resolves "that it is
highly expedient to engage the Indians in the service of the United Colonies."
May 27 Holds audience with deputies of
the Six Nations; receives instructions directed to the North Carolina and
Virginia delegates pertaining to independence.
Requests 6,000 militia reinforcements for Canada.
June 3 Requests nearly 24,000 militia reinforcements for General
Washington at New York. June
7 Receives Richard Henry Lee's resolution respecting independence,
foreign alliances, and confederation. June 10
Postpones debate on independence resolution; appoints committee to prepare a
declaration of independence. June 11
Receives Indian delegation; receives report from commissioners to Canada.
June 12 Appoints committees to prepare "the
form of a confederation" and "a plan of treaties to be proposed to foreign
powers"; creates Board of War and Ordnance. June 14
Recommends "detecting, restraining, and punishing disaffected and dangerous
persons" in New York; embargoes salt beef and pork.
June 17 Adopts general reform of the forces
in Canada. June 19 Recommends seizure
and confinement of Gov. William Franklin. June 21
Orders inquiry into the causes of miscarriages in Canada.
June 24 Adopts resolves on allegiance and
treason and recommends legislation for punishing counterfeiters in the several
colonies; suspends enlistment of Mohegan and Stockbridge Indians.
June 26 Adopts bounty for three-year
enlistments. June 28 Reads draft
declaration of independence.
Declares independence. July 4 Adopts
Declaration of Independence; prepares mobilization for the defense of New
York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. July 8
Clarifies jurisdictions of northern commanders Gates and Schuyler; augments
Washington's discretionary powers and commissary
general's authority. July 10 Denounces
British treatment of prisoners captured at the Cedars in Canada.
July 12 Reads and orders printing of draft
articles of confederation. July 17
Adopts "rules and orders for the government of this house."
July 18 Reads draft "plan of treaties to be
entered into with foreign states." July 19
Orders publication of Lord Howe's commission and correspondence to expose
false expectations for a negotiated peace. July 20
Commends commanders of the American victory at Charleston.
July 22 Adopts procedures for negotiating
prisoner exchange; authorizes emission of additional $5 million in bills of
credit; opens debate on articles of confederation.
July 24 Broadens regulations for confiscating British goods on the
high seas. July 26 Orders publication of
an account of a conference between General Washington and a representative of
Lord Howe. July 30 Recommends southern
expedition against Cherokees; adopts sundry resolves in response to report on
the miscarriages in Canada.
Delegates sign engrossed Declaration of Independence; Congress authorizes
employment of the Stockbridge Indians. August 6
Proposes general prisoner-of-war exchange. August 8
Orders General Lee to return to Philadelphia from Charleston; concludes
three-week debate on articles of confederation.
August 12 Holds inquiry into conduct of Commodore Esek Hopkins.
August 13 Opens debate on revision of
articles of war. August 14 Adopts plan for encouraging desertion of foreign
mercenaries. August 15 Rebukes Commodore
Esek Hopkins. August 16
Censures Commodore Esek Hopkins. August 19
Orders Commodore Hopkins to resume command of Continental fleet; adopts
extensive new instructions for Indian commissioners in middle department.
August 20 Reads draft Articles of
Confederation and orders them printed in preparation for debate in committee
of the whole. August 23 Authorizes
additional troops on Continental establishment for frontier defense.
August 26 Adopts measures for relief of
disabled soldiers and seamen. August 27
Resolves to encourage foreign mercenaries to desert from British army.
August 30 Adopts plan to improve postal
Receives Gen. John Sullivan's written report on Lord Howe's proposal for peace
conference. September 6 Designates
Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Edward Rutledge to meet with Lord Howe.
September 9 Revises style of Continental
commissions, replacing "United Colonies" with "United States."
September 11 Committee meets with Lord Howe
on Staten Island. September 16 Adopts
new plan for a Continental Army of 88 battalions and system of bounties for
recruitment of officers and soldiers. September 17
Adopts Plan of Treaties; receives report of the committee appointed to confer
with Lord Howe and orders it published. September
20 Adopts Articles of War. September 22
Sends committee to New York "to enquire into the state of the army."
September 25 Resolves to send committee to
Ticonderoga to improve administration of northern army.
September 26 Appoints Silas Deane, Benjamin
Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson as commissioners at Paris.
September 28 Adopts "letters of credence"
for commissioners at Paris and plan for their maintenance.
Appoints Thomas Mifflin as quartermaster general to replace Stephen Moylan;
appoints committee to bring in plan for military academy.
October 2 Refuses to accept Gen. Philip
Schuyler's resignation as commander of northern department.
October 3 Resolves to borrow $5
million and establishes system of loan offices to transact the
business. October 7 Receives Gen.
Charles Lee's personal report on southern department and advances $30,000
indemnity to him for loss of property in England.
October 9 Appoints John Morgan and William Shippen, Jr., director
of military hospitals "on the east side of Hudson's river" and in New Jersey,
respectively. October 14 Accepts the
report of the committee on the appeal of the libel case Joshua Wentworth v.
the Elizabeth from the maritime court of New Hampshire.
October 18 Appoints Thaddeus Kosciuszko
colonel of engineers in Continental Army. October
22 Appoints Arthur Lee to replace Jefferson as commissioner at
Paris; instructs commissioners to pro cure eight line-of-battle ships in
France. October 28 Appoints committee to
conduct inquiry into monopolizing and engrossing of military supplies.
October 30 Rejects Maryland proposal to
substitute money for land as an additional bounty; adopts new formula for
division of prize money in Continental Navy.
November 2 Resolves to emit
additional $5 million. November 6
Resolves to appoint naval board in Philadelphia "to execute the business of
the navy, under the direction of the Marine Committee."
November 11 Directs Board of War to confer
with Pennsylvania Council of Safety on defense of Philadelphia.
November 15 Adopts new pay plan for
Continental Navy. November 18 Adopts
lottery scheme to raise Continental funds. November
20 Resolves to enlarge navy by eight additional ships.
November 23 Receives news of evacuation of
Fort Lee and British crossing of Hudson River.
November 25 Urges Pennsylvania to mobilize militia for six-week
Holds emergency Sunday session; authorizes General Washington to order troops
from east of Hudson River to west side.
December 5 Hears address of
Indian delegation. December 8 Holds
emergency Sunday session. December 11
Proclaims day of fasting and humiliation; instructs General Washington to
contradict report that Congress was preparing to adjourn from Philadelphia.
December 12 Adjourns to Baltimore; leaves
Gen. Israel Putnam to direct defense of Philadelphia.
December 20 Reconvenes in Baltimore;
inquires into treatment of Gen. Charles Lee since his recent capture by the
British. December 21 Appoints George
Clymer, Robert Morris, and George Walton an executive committee of Congress at
Philadelphia. December 23 Authorizes
commissioners at Paris to borrow "two millions sterling," arm six vessels of
war, and seek information on Portugal's hostile actions toward American ships.
December 26 Appoints committee to
prepare plan "for the better conducting the executive business of Congress, by
boards composed of persons, not members of Congress."
December 27 Confers extraordinary powers on
General Washington for six months. December 30
Approves new instructions for American commissioners abroad and votes to send
commissioners to "courts of Vienna, Spain, Prussia and the Grand Duke of
Tuscany." December 31 Receives General
Washington's announcement of his victory over Hessian garrison at Trenton.
1777 - January
1 Appoints Benjamin Franklin commissioner to
the Court of Spain. January 3 Directs
General Washington to investigate and protest General Howe's treatment of
Congressman Richard Stockton and other American prisoners.
January 6 Denounces Howe's treatment of
Gen. Charles Lee and threatens retaliation against
prisoners falling into American hands. January 8
Authorizes posting continental garrisons for the defense of western Virginia
and financing Massachusetts' expedition against Fort Cumberland, Nova Scotia.
January 9 Dismisses John Morgan,
director general of military hospitals, and Samuel Stringer, director of the
northern department hospital. January 14
Adopts proposals to bolster Continental money and recommends state taxation to
meet state quotas. January 16 Proposes
appointment of a commissary for American prisoners held by the British; orders
inquiry into British and Hessian depredations in New York and New Jersey.
January 18 Orders distribution of
authenticated copies of the Declaration of Independence containing the names
January 24 Provides money
for holding an Indian treaty at Easton. Pa. January
28 Appoints committee to study the condition of Georgia.
January 29 Directs Joseph Trumbull to
conduct an inquiry into activities of his deputy commissary Carpenter Wharton.
January 30 Creates standing committee on
appeals from state admiralty courts.
Orders measures for suppressing insurrection in Worcester and Somerset
counties, Maryland. February 5 Orders
measures for obtaining troops from the Carolinas; instructs Secret Committee
on procuring supplies from France.
February 6 Directs measures for the defense
of Georgia and for securing the friendship of the southern Indians.
February 10 Recommends temporary embargo in
response to British naval "infestation" of Chesapeake Bay.
February 12 Recommends inoculation of
Continental troops for smallpox. February 15
Endorses the substance of the recommendations adopted at the December-January
New England Conference and recommends the convening of two similar conferences
in the middle and southern states. February 17
Endorses General Schuyler's efforts to retain the friend ship of the Six
Nations. February 18 Directs General
Washington to conduct inquiry into military abilities of foreign officers.
February 19 Elects five major generals.
February 21 Rejects General Lee's request
for a congressional delegation to meet with him to consider British peace
overtures; elects 10 brigadier generals. February
22 Resolves to borrow $13 million in loan office certificates.
February 25 Adopts measures to curb
desertion. February 26 Raises interest on loan office certificates from 4% to
6%. February 27 Cautions Virginia on
expeditions against the Indians: adjourns to Philadelphia, to reconvene on
Fails to attain quorum; on March 11
urges Delaware and New York to dispatch delegates to Congress.
March 12 Reconvenes.
March 13 Cautions agents abroad against
recruiting foreign officers with limited English language skills; appoints
committee "to confer with General Gates upon the general state of affairs."
March 15 Reprimands General Schuyler for
comments "highly derogatory to the honour of Congress."
March 17-18 Adjourns for lack of a
quorum-only eight states represented. March 19
Appoints committee on applications of foreign officers for military
appointments; declines Baron de Kalb's offer of service.
March 21 Appoints committee to confer with
Gen. Nathanael Greene. March 22
Establishes and specifies the organization and duties of the office of
secretary of Congress. March 24 Informs
General Washington that Congress never intended him to feel bound by a
majority in a council of war contrary to his own
judgment. March 25 Urges Virginia to
suspend operations planned against her western Indians; directs General Gates
to take command of the army at Fort Ticonderoga; appoints William C. Houston
deputy secretary of Congress. March 26
Suspends Esek Hopkins from his command of the Continental Navy.
March 29 Reaffirms decision not to send a
delegation to confer with General Lee.
Adopts plan for "better regulating the pay of the army."
April 4 Adopts commissary reforms
recommended by General Greene.
April 7 Adopts plan to
reorganize the medical department. April 8
Adopts proposals to honor the memory of Generals Joseph Warren and Hugh
Mercer. April 10 Orders measures for the
defense of the western frontiers and appoints Gen. Edward Hand to the command
at Fort Pitt. April 11 Appoints William
Shippen, Jr., director general of military hospitals and a new staff of
physicians and surgeons general. April 14
Adopts measures to improve recruiting and revises Articles of War.
April 16 Urges Rhode Island, Massachusetts,
and Connecticut to attack the British forces at Rhode Island.
April 18 Resolves to publish report on
depredations; appoints committee to conduct inquiry into General Schuyler's
command. April 21 Resumes debate on
Articles of Confederation. April 22
Orders William Franklin into close confinement in retaliation for his urging
Americans to seek royal pardons. April 25
Orders measures for reinforcing and mobilizing General Washington's army.
April 29 Orders measures for the defense of
Lake Champlain and Ticonderoga. April 30
Appoints committee to evaluate the consequences of the British raid on
Danbury; adopts quartermaster and commissary general reforms.
Considers possible hostilities against Portugal; appoints Arthur Lee
commissioner to Spain. May 3 Exonerates
Gen. Philip Schuyler from charges of misusing public funds.
May 5 Debates Articles of Confederation.
May 7 Appoints Ralph Izard commissioner to
Tuscany. May 9 Appoints William Lee
commissioner to Berlin and Vienna. May 14
Debates reorganization of the quartermaster department.
May 20 Resolves to emit an additional $5
million. May 22 Appoints Gen. Philip
Schuyler to command of the northern department. May
29 Considers draft address to the inhabitants of the United States.
Appoints committee to oversee the defense of Pennsylvania.
June 4 Empowers General Washington to offer
rewards to encourage British desertions. June 6
Directs Secret Committee and Marine Committee to make an accounting of their
proceedings and expenditures. June 10
Reorganizes the commissary department. June 11 Receives committee report on "ways and means for
defraying the expence of the current year." June 14
Adopts the United States flag; disciplines Deputy Muster Master Gunning
Bedford for issuing a challenge to delegate Jonathan Dickinson Sergeant for
remarks made in Congress. June 17
Memorializes Gen. David Wooster for bravery during the defense of Danbury,
Conn. June 18 Orders George Morgan to
convene an Indian conference at Fort Pitt. June 23
Resumes debate on Articles of Confederation; hears New York complaint against
inhabitants of "the New Hampshire Grants." June 30
Rebuffs movement to establish Vermont statehood.
Adopts instructions for commissioners to Vienna, Berlin, and Tuscany.
July 3 Adopts instructions for the
commissioner to the United Provinces; dispatches troops to suppress Delaware
and Maryland loyalists. July 5 Creates
Committee of Commerce to replace the Secret Committee.
July 7 Condemns Generals Greene, Knox, and
Sullivan for an "attempt to influence" Congress.
July 11 Appoints committee to proceed to camp "to make a diligent
enquiry into the state of the army." July 14
Receives news of the retreat from Ticonderoga and Mount Independence.
July 16 Appoints committee to confer with
the French officer du Coudray on his "agreement" with Commissioner Silas
Deane. July 23 Dismisses 12 naval
officers to make an "example" of "combinations of officers to extort increase
of pay and allowances." July 25 Appoints
committee to study the defense of the southern frontier; commends Colonels
Barton and Meigs for "enterprize and valour" in capturing General Prescott and
conducting an expedition on Long Island. July 29
Orders an inquiry into the evacuation of Ticonderoga and Mount Independence.
July 31 Commissions the marquis de
Lafayette a major general.
Begins inquiry into Commissioner Silas Deane's contracts with foreign
officers. August 4 Appoints Gen. Horatio
Gates to replace Gen. Philip Schuyler as commander of the northern department.
Begins consideration of Committee to Camp report on the "state
of the army." August 7 Directs General
Washington "to negotiate an exchange of prisoners with the enemy."
August 8 Records first roll call vote-on
motion to promote Brig. Gen. Benedict Arnold.
August 11 Directs implementation of General Washington's proposals
for defense of the Delaware. August 15
Agrees to accept parole of prominent Pennsylvania dissidents seeking to avoid
exile to Virginia. August 20 Directs
mustering of the Pennsylvania militia; dispatches New Jersey militia to New
York to relieve troops for frontier defense. August
21 Endorses General Washington's proposal to march his main army
toward the Hudson River; receives news of American victory at Bennington, Vt.
August 22 Learns of British invasion of
the Chesapeake; alerts Washington to the British threat to Philadelphia and
issues call for the Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia militia.
August 26 Requests Pennsylvania and
Delaware to apprehend and disarm the "notoriously disaffected" within their
states. August 28 Reverses decision to
parole prominent Pennsylvania dissidents and orders their removal from the
Orders inquiry into the failure of Gen. John Sullivan's expedition against
Staten Island. September 4 Orders
further call-up of Pennsylvania and New Jersey militia.
September 6 Directs clothier general to
provide clothing bounties to troops. September 8
Rebukes Silas Deane for exceeding his
authority in negotiating agreements with foreign officers in France.
Sept ember 9 Orders General Washington to
write Congress at least twice daily "advising the position and movements of
the armies." September 10 Adopts "ways
and means" motion to pay interest accruing on loan office certificates in
bills of exchange on the commissioners at Paris.
September 11 Learns of the American defeat at Brandywine Creek.
September 12 Directs Gen. Israel Putnam to
reinforce Washington's army. September 14
Orders General Sullivan's recall until the inquiry ordered into his conduct is
completed; resolves to convene in Lancaster, Pa., if the evacuation of
Philadelphia becomes necessary. September 15
Orders investigation of a conspiracy rumored to be impending in Pennsylvania.
September 16 Grants General Washington
broad powers to punish military officers and to impress supplies for the army;
orders removal of supplies from Philadelphia
September 18 Evacuates Philadelphia.
Delegates in flight to Lancaster, Pa. September 27
Convenes at Lancaster; adjourns to York. September
30 Convenes at York.
Resolves to meet twice daily. October 2
Authorizes delegates to draw provisions from Continental commissaries.
October 4 Commends sundry officers for
bravery in defense against General Burgoyne's northern invasion.
October 7 Debates "mode of voting" under
draft Articles of Confederation. October 8
Adopts penalties for "communicating" with the enemy; commends Washington for
the "brave exertions" of his army at Germantown.
October 9-14 Debates taxation proposals under draft Articles of
Confederation. October 15 Debates powers
of Congress under draft Articles of Confederation.
October 17 Reorganizes the Board of War.
October 20 Exonerates Gen. John Sullivan
for failure of Staten Island expedition; learns informally of General Gates'
capture of General Burgoyne's army at Saratoga.
October 22 Orders inquiry into the conduct of Indian Commissioner
George Morgan. October 23-30 Debates and
revises draft Articles of Confederation. October 29
President Hancock takes leave of Congress.
He was a member of the Massachusetts constitutional convention of 1780, and was
governor of the state from the latter year till 1785.
On 16 Jun 1785 Hancock again was elected to the United
States in Congress Assembled, but could not attend the session of Congress in November 1785 due to
his illness. However, he was elected President of the United States in Congress
Assembled 23rd of November 1785.
Presidential duties were performed by the two chairmen –
David Ramsay (23 Nov 1785 - 12 May 1786) and
Nathaniel Gorham (15 May - 5 Jun 1786). On 29 May 1786, Hancock, who was
unable to write himself, had his letter of resignation written. It was presented
to the Congress on 5 Jun 1786 and the resignation was accepted. The
Chronology of John Hancock's Congress is as follows:
November 23 Achieves quorum, seven states represented; elects John
Hancock president (in absentia), David Ramsay chairman.
November 24 Elects two congressional
chaplains. November 25 Receives report
on British consul John Temple. November 28-29
Fails to achieve quorum.
Recognizes John Temple as British consul. December 5-26 Fails to achieve
quorum December 27 Receives secretary at war reports.
January 2 Receives British complaint on
treatment of loyalists. January 4
Receives reports on states' response to appeals to grant Congress authority to
raise revenue and regulate trade. January 5
Receives report on Algerian capture of American seamen.
January 12 Receives report on settlement of
Continental accounts. January 18 Refers
Connecticut cession to committee. January 19 Orders report on 1786 fiscal
estimates. January 27 Elects Samuel Shaw
consul to Canton, China. January 30 Appeals to six unrepresented states to send delegates.
Removes injunction of secrecy on correspondence concerning "the appointment of
Commissioners to treat with the Barbary powers." February 3 Debates
states' response to congressional fiscal appeals.
February 8 Receives report on French loan interest requirements.
February 9 Justifies abolishing salaries of
court of appeals judges. February 16-24
Fails to achieve quorum. February 25
Receives reports on Franco-American postal plan and on 1786 fiscal estimates.
Repeats call to the states for authority to regulate trade.
March 7 Appoints committee to confer with
New Jersey Assembly on its refusal to comply with 1786 Continental
requisition. March 10 Rejects New York
appeal for an extension of time for receiving Continental claims from citizens
of the state. March 14 Clarifies form of
oaths required for Continental officeholders. March
17-18 Fails to achieve quorum. March 21
Receives report on capital punishment in military courts martial.
March 22 Receives report of New Jersey's
reversal of opposition to 1786 Continental requisition.
March 24 Appoints single commissioner to
consolidate settlement of accounts of the five great departments (clothier,
commissary, hospital, marine, and quartermaster).
March 27 Orders arrest of Maj. John Wyllws for execution of army
deserters. March 29 Directs secretary
for foreign affairs to report on negotiations for British evacuation of
Receives report on "negotiations, and other measures to be taken with the
Barbary powers." April 10 Receives
report on Connecticut land cession. April 12
Receives board of treasury report on coinage. April 19 Rejects Massachusetts
request for Continental ordnance April 27
Receives translations of French decree on fisheries bounties.
Holds audience with Cornplanter and other Seneca chiefs.
May 5 Holds audiene with Cornplanter and
other Seneca chiefs. May 6 Fails to
achieve quorum. May 8 Appoints second
commissioner for settlement of accounts of the five great departments.
May 9 Directs Continental Geographer to
proceed with survey of western territory. May 11
Debates Connecticut cession. May 12
Declares navigable waters in the territories forever free to their inhabitants
and to the citizens of the United States. May 15
Elects Nathaniel Gorham chairman of Congress to succeed David Ransay.
May 17 Ratifies Prussian-American treaty of
commerce. May 18 Postpones to September
meeting of agents for Georgia-South Carolina boundary dispute.
May 22-25 Debates Connecticut cession.
May 26 Declares conditional acceptance of
Connecticut cession. May 29 Fails to
achieve quorum. May 31 Amends rules to
war; receives John Jay request for a committee to confer with him on
negotiations with Diego de Gardoqui.
Receives resignation of President John Hancock; receives report on military
John Hancock recovered and was elected Governor again in 1787 and being
re-elected annually served in that capacity until his death in 1793. In the
presidential election of 1789, Governor Hancock received four electoral votes.
John Hancock was a man of strong common sense and decision of character, of
polished manners, easy address, affable, liberal, and charitable. In his public
speeches he displayed a high degree of eloquence. As a presiding officer he was
dignified, impartial, quick of apprehension, and always commanded the respect of
He employed his large fortune for useful and benevolent purposes,
and was a liberal donor to Harvard college. When the best method of driving the
British from Boston was under discussion at a patriotic club in that town, he is
said to have declared, "Burn Boston, and make John Hancock a beggar, if the
public good requires it."
He received the degree of A.M. from Yale and
Princeton in 1769, and that of LL.D. from Brown in 1788, and from Harvard in
1792. The illustration represents the Hancock house, which stood in Beacon
HANCOCK, John, clergyman, born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1671; died in Lexington, Massachusetts, 5 Dec., 1752. He was graduated at Harvard in 1689, studied for the ministry, was called to preach as a candidate by the Congregational church at Lexington, Mass