John Hancock: Merchant King and American Patriot

Overview

He was a rich, powerful aristocrat, a merchant king who loved English culture and fashion, and, above all, he was a loyal British subject with ambitions of a lordship and a grand retirement estate in England. There simply was no doubt about it: John Hancock was the least likely man in Boston to start a rebellion. How, then, did this Tory patrician become one of the staunchest supporters of the American Revolution?

John Hancock's overnight transformation from British loyalist to ...

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Overview

He was a rich, powerful aristocrat, a merchant king who loved English culture and fashion, and, above all, he was a loyal British subject with ambitions of a lordship and a grand retirement estate in England. There simply was no doubt about it: John Hancock was the least likely man in Boston to start a rebellion. How, then, did this Tory patrician become one of the staunchest supporters of the American Revolution?

John Hancock's overnight transformation from British loyalist to fiery rebel and first governor of the independent state of Massachusetts is one of the least known but most gripping stories of the American Revolution. Now, acclaimed author Harlow Giles Unger introduces us to the Founding Father whose name is as recognizable as George Washington's, but whose thrilling life story is all but untold. Applying his historical expertise and storytelling gift, Unger details the fascinating life of one of our most extraordinary business and political leaders-the first signer of the Declaration of Independence.

As Unger reveals in this unflinching portrait, Hancock was one of the most paradoxical figures of his time. Arguably the wealthiest man in the American colonies, he unabashedly reveled in his riches, adoring all the foppish trappings he could buy. But his commitment to the individual liberty eventually transformed him into a fervent revolutionary, venerated equally by his establishment peers at Harvard as he was by the rebels-the Minutemen who did the fighting and the Boston street mobs who declared him their hero even as they burned the homes of other aristocrats. To repay their respect, he sacrificed his fortune and risked death by hanging to win independence from the British. A brilliant orator, he combines his wealth and political skills to unite Boston's merchant and working classes into an armed might that forced Britain's vaunted professional army to evacuate Boston, assuring the success of the Revolution.

America's first great philanthropist and humanitarian, Hancock rebuilt whole neighborhoods devastated by Boston's periodic fires, fed the poor, sent orphans to college, and bought the city its first fire engine. He rebuilt the city and the magnificent Boston Common after the vicious British devastation, and the people reelected him their governor for the rest of his life-nine terms in all.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Two more beautiful hardcover histories on the cheap from Castle. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780785820260
  • Publisher: Book Sales, Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/28/2005
  • Pages: 383
  • Product dimensions: 6.52 (w) x 9.22 (h) x 1.45 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix
Acknowledgments xi
Chronology xv
Introduction 1
1 The Boy on Beacon Hill (1737-1750) 9
2 The Merchant King (1724-1750) 26
3 The Merchant Prince (1750-1764) 40
4 Of Stamps and Taxes (1764-1765) 67
5 "Mad Rant and Porterly Reviling" (1765) 83
6 A Hero by Circumstance (1765-1768) 102
7 "Idol of the Mob" (1768-1770) 117
8 "Tea in a Trice" (1770-1773) 148
9 High Treason (1774-1775) 175
10 President of Congress (1775-1776) 195
11 Founding Father (1776) 227
12 President of the United States (1776-1777) 242
13 A Model Major General (1777-1780) 261
14 His Excellency the Governor (1780-1785) 285
15 Hancock! Hancock! Even to the End (1785-1793) 306
Epilogue 333
Notes 337
Selected Bibliography of Principal Sources 361
Index 365
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