Episode 388: Brooke Barbier, John Hancock

Happy Fourth of July!

Book Cover of King HancockWe’ve created special episodes to commemorate, celebrate, and remember the Fourth of July for years. Many of our episodes have focused on the Declaration of Independence, how and why it was created, the ideas behind it, and its sacred words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

This year, we examine a different aspect of the Declaration of Independence: the man behind the boldest signature on the document: John Hancock.

Brooke Barbier is a public historian and holds a Ph.D. in American History from Boston College. She’s also the author of the first biography in many years about John Hancock, it’s called King Hancock: The Radical Influence of a Moderate Founding Father.

Feature image from the Collection of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

About the Show

Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.

It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.

Each episode features a conversation with a historian who helps us shed light on important people and events in early American history.

Ben Franklin’s World is a production of Colonial Williamsburg Innovation Studios.

Episode Summary

Brooke Barbier Brooke Barbier received her Ph.D. in American history from Boston College and has worked as a lecturer at Boston College and Stonehill College in Massachusetts. She’s also the founder of Ye Olde Tavern Tours, which offers tours of Boston’s historic sites and taverns. Her research focuses on Boston’s social and cultural life during the American Revolution. And she’s also the author of King Hancock: The Radical Influence of a Moderate Founding Father.

During our conversation, Brooke reveals: Biographical history of John Hancock; impact of Hancock’s family on his political life; Hancock’s role in the American Revolutionary War; the legacy of Hancock and his famous signature.

What You’ll Discover

• The rise of John Hancock as a businessman and politician
• How John Hancock became involved in the American Revolution
• Details about Colonial Massachusetts
• Parliamentary taxation and colonial backlash
• Smuggling in British North America and Hancock’s role as a smuggler
• The process John Hancock went through to become a revolutionary
• How Hancock grew his popularity to become a leader in the Revolution
• John Hancock’s election as President of the Second Continental Congress
• Hancock’s retirement from the Second Continental Congress
• John Hancock’s career after his service on the national stage
• Facts and myths about the Declaration of Independence’s most famous signature

Links to People, Places, and Publications

Brooke Barbier
• Brooke Barbier, King Hancock
Massachusetts Historical Society
Boston College
National Archives
Boston by Foot

Sponsor Links

Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
The Power of Place: The Centennial Campaign for Colonial Williamsburg
Friends of Lafayette Grand Tour Re-enactment

Complementary Episodes

Episode 018: Our Declaration
Episode 129: John Bell, The Road to Concord, 1775
Episode 141: A Declaration in Draft
Episode 245: Celebrating the Fourth
Episode 277: Whose Fourth of July?
Episode 306: The Horse’s Tail: Revolution & Memory in Early New York City
Episode 309: Merchant Ships of the Eighteenth Century
Episode 360: Kyera Singleton, Slavery & Freedom in Massachusetts

Time Warp PlainTime Warp Question

In your opinion, would John Hancock still be well-known today if his signature on the Declaration of Independence wasn't as large?

Questions, Comments, Suggestions

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Get in Touch! Send me an e-mail or leave a comment.


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