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12 June 2008
THE PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN
HANCOCK, John (1737-1793), Signer (Massachusetts). Autograph letter signed ("John Hancock," with paraph), as Massachusetts Governor, to John Brown, 5 October 1780. 1 page, 4to, seal remnant on verso.
CANCELING A CONVOCATION AT CASTLE WILLIAM. A fine example of a Hancock autograph letter, written in the first year of his governorship, discussing an official meeting at Castle William. "The weather proves so exceedingly Bad, & the Boats so very cold, that I am confident the gentlemen would rather not be incommoded by going to the Castle this Day. I shall therefore hope for the pleasure of your & the other Gentlemen's Company on the Island some more agreeable day next week. I am to Request the favor of you & the other Gentlemen of your Board to Dine with me this Day at my house at 1/2 past 1 o'clock. Your Compliance & communicating this to your Colleagues will much oblige."
Castle William was a 72-cannon fort that guarded Boston Harbor off South Boston. It was the scene of important Revolutionary War activity. During the Stamp Act protests, bundles of the hated stamps were landed and stored there. The public fury following the Boston Massacre forced the British garrison to retreat to the fort for their safety. Likewise many loyalists fled there to keep from being tarred and feathered during the Tea Act protests. When the British quit the city in 1775, they tried to destroy the fort, but troops under Lt. Col. Paul Revere helped rebuild it.
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