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John Hancock (1737-1793) was the nephew and heir of one of the wealthiest merchants in Boston, Thomas Hancock. John Hancock’s wealth translated into political influence, which, beginning in the 1760s, became political activism in the Patriot cause. Hancock was president of the Provincial Congress and he and Samuel Adams were the acknowledged heads of the Patriot movement. Hancock also served in the Continental Congress and signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776.