Saturday, July 3, 2010

John Hancock

The Fourth of July is upon us. Having adopted other American special days and holidays - Valentines Day, Halloween – we may well end up celebrating it in Oz one day.

Independence Day is a non-event in Australia but a meaningful celebration and holiday in the US. It is their celebration of the founding of the republic, of gaining independence in 1776, yet in a recent poll 26% of Americans polled didn’t know that the country from which independence was gained was England. Of that 26%, 20% didn’t know which country and 6% nominated other countries, the nominations being France, China, Japan, Mexico, and Spain. Bear in mind, however, that the poll included persons originating from other countries and from groups with lower educational opportunities and qualifications.

Looking at a pic of the American Declaration of Independence, the document rather than the event, I recalled the signature that gave rise to a colloquial term for signatures generally, that of John Hancock.

Hancock was President of the Continental Congress when the Declaration of Independence was adopted and signed. Although it is said that he when Hancock signed large and clear, he declared that King George would be able to read it without his spectacles, this is generally considered to be a myth. That story first appeared some years after signing. When Hancock signed his name he did so in an empty space, his being the first signature on the document.

The flamboyance and size of the signature have made his name a synonym for signatures generally, as in “Put your John Hancock here.”

For the real story on how the Declaration was signed, see:
and keep an eye on Baby Lincoln from about the 2.30 mark.

Happy Fourth of July, cobbers.

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