Will-You-Sign-Here-John-HancockTitle: Will You Sign Here, John Hancock?
Author: Jean Fritz
Illustrator: Trina Schart Hyman
Pages: 47
Reading Level: 9 & up
Star Rating: ★★★

Jean Fritz of Can’t You Make Them Behave, King George? and The Cabin Faced West.

His Life.

Although John was born into a humble home, his fortunes were quickly elevated when his father died and he was sent to live with his wealthy aunt and uncle. They treated him as their own child, and when John was twenty-seven years old, his uncle died, leaving his profitable business to John. John was now the second richest man in New England.

John continued to dress splendidly, and made friends with influential people. When a tax was laid on tea, John refused to let the tax inspectors inspect his cargo, nor would he pay their taxes. Because of patriotic actions such as these, the members of the 1775 Continental Congress chose John Hancock to be President of the Congress. The next year he had opportunity to defy King George again by signing his name very boldly and very largely at the bottom of the Declaration of Independence.

John went on to become the governor of Massachusetts – he was elected to this position a total of eleven times. The people loved him. But as time went on, his health began to fail, and in October of 1793, he died. Twenty thousand people attended his funeral.


Jean Fritz employs a very whimsical style when writing about historical figures. Here are a few of her jabs at John Hancock.

John Hancock loved to give presents: wood to the poor, steeples to churches, books to libraries. Indeed, if he felt he wasn’t getting enough attention, he often gave the town a gift. [pg. 17]


In April, 1768, when the tax inspectors boarded his brig the Lydia, loaded with tea and paper, John Hancock wouldn’t let them inspect. (John had 10 strong friends with him at the time.)

In May a tax inspector, boarding John’s brig the Liberty, was shoved into a cabin and the door nailed shut while the crew moved a cargo of taxable wine quietly ashore.

After this, the king put John’s name on his list of “Dangerous Americans.” In Boston the Tories (those who took the king’s side) wrote nasty things about John in the newspaper and drew pictures of him with long ears like a donkey and a conceited grin on his face. John had looked in the mirror often enough to know that his ears weren’t long and the cartoons made him madder than ever. [pgs. 20-21]


John Hancock is depicted as being self-centered and a little arrogant. I do not know whether this is accurate or if it is merely Fritz’s whimsical style at play.

Three of the illustration include women with low dresses.

It is stated that there was a wishing stone on the Boston Common where “anyone who cared to could run around the stone nine times and then stand on it and make a wish.” [pg. 7]

John Hancock is once quoted as saying “damn”.

Conclusion. Interesting, fun, and comical, Will You Sign Here, John Hancock? will delight young readers with its whimsical accounts.

Review © 2013 Laura Verret

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