John Hancock signed the Declaration of Independence with so much style that his name became a synonym for signature. "Put your John Hancock right there!" people sometimes say.
Hancock, orphaned as a child but adopted by a rich uncle, was one of the richest men in the colonies. He risked it all, however, for the independence movement. With his firebrand buddy Samuel Adams, he helped lead the Patriots in Boston. He got under the skin of British officials so much that they offered a large reward for his capture. Chosen president of the Second Continental Congress, the flashy Hancock was the first to sign the Declaration of Independence. When he signed it he remarked, "The British ministry can read that name without spectacles; let them double their reward!" He hoped to be elected commander in chief of the Continental army but the delegates elected someone elsewhat was that guy's name? After the Revolution, he served as governor of Massachusetts for nine terms.