The Nation: The Signer

The man who put his bold signature at the bottom of the Declaration of Independence is one of the richest men in the Colonies and one of those most adored by the crowds. He is also one of the vainest. Unsatisfied by his largely ceremonial post as President of the Continental Congress, John Hancock of Massachusetts yearned to be Commander of the Continental Army. When General Washington was named instead, one witness noted a "sudden and striking change of countenance—mortification and resentment." Offered the chairmanship of Congress's Marine Committee, Hancock is now trying...