Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Hancock, John (1737-1793) to William Cooper re: Declaration of Independence, military matters

High-resolution images are available to schools and libraries via subscription to American History, 1493-1943. Check to see if your school or library already has a subscription. Or click here for more information. You may also order a pdf of the image from us here.

Log in
to see this thumbnail image

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC00595 Author/Creator: Hancock, John (1737-1793) Place Written: Philadelphia Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 06 July 1776 Pagination: 3 p. +doc. 23 x 19 cm

A high-resolution version of this object is available for registered users. LOG IN

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC00595 Author/Creator: Hancock, John (1737-1793) Place Written: Philadelphia Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 06 July 1776 Pagination: 3 p. +doc. 23 x 19 cm

Enclosing Declaration of Independence, with personal notes to his friend and description of sabotage of a captured American ship. Cooper was town clerk of Boston.

Notes: William Cooper was the Town Clerk of Boston.

Philad[elphi]a 6 July 1776
My Dear Sir,
Could you exactly know my particular Situation, & how much of the Day and Night I devote to the Execution of publick Business, I am Confident you & my Friends would readily excuse my not writing. I am really so greatly Engag'd, & Business fast increasing in my Departmt. that I have not a moment to myself. My Friendship however is as strong, my Zeal as great, and my Reliance, under God, that my Country will be Sav'd as firm as ever. I hope we shall be a free & happy people, totally unfetter'd, & Releas'd from the Bonds of Slavery. That we may be thus free, Congress have done, & will still do, more, [struck: that] to promote it. Inclos'd you have the Declaration of Independence, to which Refer you. I write the Assembly & it is the wish of Congress the Declaration may be proclaimed in the State of Massachusetts Bay.
[2] I can't add, pray have me remembered in strong terms of affection to your worthy Brother the Doctor & present him with one of the lnclos'd
Remember me to all my Friends. The Revd. Mr. Whitney is at my house & has gone thro' the Small Pox by Inoculation very finely. Miss Katy Quincy is also here. She has been Inoculated, & has it exceeding full, but is upon the Recovery, she will have enough to Convince her Friends she will not Take it again.
Two Days ago a Brigt. of ours with Powder & Irons arriv'd off these Capes & was Chac'd [chased] by a Man of War, they then [had] her on shore at Egg harbour, & our people began unloading her, & after Taking out some Arms & 250 half Barr[el]s Powder they discover'd a number of Boats full of men from the Ships of War approach[in]g them, our People finding it necessary to quit the Vessell, & determining she should not fall into the Enemy's hands, laid a long train whereby to Blow her up; the Men from the Boats boarded her, gave three cheers, & immediately [3] the Ship Blew up, & destroy'd in a moment, 50 or 60 of the Man of War's men, & Sent them to ---- [insert: Heaven I hope.] The Man of War for want of hands [insert: eno[ugh] to do mischief] was obliged to go in pursuit of more. Thus they see it is dangerous to be too meddling in other Men's affairs. They had better quit, but if they will be so foolish they must abide the consequences.
Mrs. Hancock, who is in a tolerable good way, joins me in best complimts to Mrs. Cooper, Miss Judith, & all your Connections. My good wishes attend Mr. Oliver Wendell & Lady, in short, I wish to be remembered to every Friend.
I write in great haste, do lot me hear from you.
I wish you happy & am
Your Real Friend & h[u]mble S[e]rv[a]nt
John Hancock
Hon[ora]ble William Cooper Esq.

Order a CopyCitation Guidelines for Online Resources