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John Hancock: 'We must all rise or fall together.'

One of my favorite founding fathers is John Hancock. While some think he was an opportunist or vain man, I happen to think he is one who rose to the occasion and risked it all - his fortune, honor and even his life to stand for what is right and to secure liberty for future generations.

So, you can imagine my interest in the article JOHN HANCOCK’S POLITICS AND PERSONALITY IN TEN QUOTES by Brooke Barbier posted at The Journal of the American Revolution. I was wondering where Mr. Hancock stood on the ratification of the Constitution as Samuel Adams* and Mercy Otis Warren were opposed to it. But I think John Hancock showed great wisdom in this quote as recorded below. 

May God continue to bless the memory of John Hancock - a man with flaws, but also one who was used mightily in the formation of the United States of America. 

8. 'We must all rise or fall together.'—John Hancock to the US Constitution Ratification Convention of Massachusetts, February 6, 1788

"In 1788, Hancock was governor of Massachusetts and president of the state’s constitutional convention when he proclaimed these words in one of the most important speeches of his life. The proposed national constitution had been sent to the states for ratification, and as the Massachusetts convention began, five states had already approved it. The new government framework was more than halfway to securing the necessary votes for approval.

"While Americans think of the Constitution as an inevitable part of the country’s fabric today, it faced considerable pushback from states concerned about an overreaching federal government. Massachusetts was considered a swing state for ratification. Because of its strong revolutionary credentials, other states might be inclined to follow its lead. New Hampshire was waiting to see which way their neighbor went, and George Washington was worried their decision could also sway Virginia and New York.

"Hancock himself was skeptical about the new Constitution, and as the most powerful political figure in Massachusetts, he would no doubt influence some with his perspective. Just before the vote was taken, Hancock gave a speech supporting the Constitution but asked everyone to recognize that it was a divided issue. As such, no one should rejoice that half of the population would be disappointed with the outcome. He hoped everyone would be conciliatory and eventually unite together. This was a sentiment rarely heard from leaders during such a contentious time, and it showed Hancock’s power. The Constitution narrowly passed in Massachusetts."

* Adams was one of those derisively labeled "Anti-Federalists" by proponents of the new Constitution, who called themselves "Federalists". Adams was elected to the Massachusetts ratifying convention which met in January 1788. Despite his reservations, Adams rarely spoke at the convention, and listened carefully to the arguments rather than raising objections. Adams and John Hancock had reconciled, and they finally agreed to give their support for the Constitution, with the proviso that some amendments be added later. Even with the support of Hancock and Adams, the Massachusetts convention narrowly ratified the Constitution by a vote of 187 to 168. (Source: Samuel Adams/Return to Massachusetts - Wikipedia.)

For additional information on John Hancock's position during the ratification of the United States Constitution, please also see: John Hancock/Final Years - Wikipedia.


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