Hancock, John. Naval Document, Signed
John Hancock Appoints A Naval Commander in 1776!
John Hancock Signs this Naval Appointment Document, in the formative year of 1776.
The Naval Appointment was signed by Hancock within months of the day he placed his signature on the Declaration of Independence, and while still serving as President of the Continental Congress. He was the first person to hold the title of President at the time The United Colonies transformed into The United States, by means of an unprecedented Declaration of Independence.
John Nicholson (1756-1844) was commissioned into the Continental Navy in October, 1776, and one month later won this assignment to command the converted merchant sloop Hornet. The Hornet patrolled Delaware Bay, before running the British blockade and escorting merchantmen to Charleston, South Carolina. The British captured the sloop off Charleston in the summer of 1777.
Nicholson was among the first officers to command a U.S. vessel called Hornet, a lineage of eight ships, including the famous sloop of War of 1812 and Barbary Coast fame, and the aircraft carrier (CV-8) that launched Jimmy Doolittle on his famed Tokyo raid in April, 1942.
The first USS Hornet was a merchant sloop, outfitted with 10 guns and chartered from Captain William Stone in December 1775 to serve under Stone as a unit of Esek Hopkins’ Fleet. Hornet fitted out at Baltimore, then sailed with Hopkins fleet 18 February 1776. Outside the Virginia Capes, she ran afoul of USS Fly and was unable to accompany the fleet for the amphibious assault on New Providence. She patrolled in the Delaware Bay for nearly a year, then ran the British blockade to convoy merchantmen to Charleston. Documents of service are incomplete after this time but it appears that Hornet fell into British hands on the coast of South Carolina in the summer of 1777.
Hancock’s large, bold signature herein is the classic one also placed on the Declaration, so that “fat George” would “be able to read it without his glasses!
Hancock, John. Partially Printed Document, signed. Philadelphia: 19 November, 1776, as President of the Continental Congress. Countersigned by Charles Thompson, secretary. Naval appointment for John Nicholson, Esquire, as commander of the U.S. Sloop of War Hornet.