Lot #248
John Hancock Hand-Docketed Letter

Hancock’s pastor informs him of the good electoral news—by “a clear & decided majority you came in as governor”
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Estimate: $2000+


Hancock’s pastor informs him of the good electoral news—by “a clear & decided majority you came in as governor”

Letter sent to Hancock by Peter Thacher, three pages on two adjoining sheets, 7.25 x 9, April 29, 1787, docketed on the address panel in Hancock's own hand, "Rev'd P. Thatcher, April 1787." Thacher notifies Hancock that he has been elected governor of Massachusetts. In part: "Through the lieutenant governor I have obtained the following accurate State of the returns as they stand yesterday: For Governor." Here Thacher has made two columns, one headed "Total," the other "For J Hancock Esqr." Vote totals for 12 named counties are listed, with Hancock receiving a majority in all but Hampshire County where he has 939 of the total 1940 votes cast; of the 18,523 total votes, 13,740 were cast for him. Thacher continues, "For Lieutenant Governor the whole number of votes is 16644…Mr Cushing has cut off this number so that he wants a considerable number to give him a majority; however the returns are not all in; 20 towns in the county of Worcester have not put in their votes as yet; & but four towns in the county of Bristol. Genl Lincoln has between 4 & 5000 votes for Lieut. Governor. It is matter of much doubt whether Mr Cushing will be elected by the people. Will you give me leave to suggest to you, Sir, the propriety of your communicating to your friends your wishes with respect to a Lieut. Governor; they will doubtless be glad to gratify you with such a person as will be agreeable to you & they are able to carry any measure….You see by what a clear & decided majority you came in as governor; I hope that God will enable you to do great good in the Station; the confidence & affection of the people enable a ruler to do much more good than he could otherwise." In very good to fine condition, with repairs to the hinge.

Peter Thacher (1752-1802) was a Congregationalist minister who served as pastor of the First Church in Malden and the Brattle Street Church in Boston, of which Hancock was a parishioner. Hancock had served as Massachusetts' first governor from 1780 to 1785, when he resigned; he was reelected to the position in 1787, as described here, and held the it until his death in 1793. A fascinating and important letter related to one of the most well-known Founding Fathers' postwar political careers.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Fine Autograph and Artifacts, Ft. Revolutionary War
  • Dates: #612 - Ended July 14, 2021