John Hancock (Texas politician)

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John Hancock
John Hancock (Texas).jpg
United States Congressman
Texas 10th Congressional District
In office
March 4, 1883 – March 3, 1885
Preceded by none
Succeeded by Joseph D. Sayers
United States Congressman
Texas 5th Congressional District
In office
March 4, 1875 – March 3, 1877
Preceded by Roger Q. Mills
Succeeded by De Witt C. Giddings
United States Congressman
Texas 4th Congressional District
In office
March 4, 1871 – March 3, 1875
Preceded by Edward Degener
Succeeded by Roger Q. Mills
Texas House of Representatives
District 57
In office
District Judge
Texas 2nd Judicial District
In office
Personal details
Born (1824-10-24)October 24, 1824
Jackson County, Alabama
Died July 19, 1893(1893-07-19) (aged 68)
Austin, Texas
Resting place Oakwood Cemetery
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Susan Richardson
Alma mater East Tennessee University
Religion Episcopalian
Military service
Allegiance Union (American Civil War)
Rank Conscientious objector: fled to Mexico

John Hancock (October 24, 1824 – July 19, 1893) was an American judge and politician. As a member of the Texas Legislature he opposed the secession of Texas during the American Civil War. After the war he represented Texas in the United States House of Representatives as a member of the Democratic Party.


John Hancock was born in Jackson County, Alabama,[1] the seventh of ten children born to John Allen Hancock and Sarah Ryan Hancock.[2] His older brother George Duncan Hancock was a veteran of Battle of San Jacinto and represented Travis County in the Eleventh Texas Legislature.[3]

Hancock attended the East Tennessee University at Knoxville. He later worked on his father's farm in Alabama before beginning his study of law in Winchester, Tennessee. In 1846 he was admitted to the Alabama bar.[4] In January 1847 he moved to Austin, Texas where he practiced law. In 1851 he was elected district judge of the Second Judicial District for a term of six years. After four years he resigned to resume his lucrative law practice, as well as to engage in farming.

Civil War[edit]

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Hancock strongly believed that Texas should remain part of the Union. In 1860 he was elected to the Texas House of Representatives as a Unionist. After the secession of Texas in March 1861, he refused to take the oath of allegiance to the Confederate States of America and was expelled from the legislature. During the Civil War he practiced law in the state courts but refused to conduct business or recognize the authority in the Confederate courts. He refused to take part in military service during the war, and in 1864 he fled to Mexico to escape conscription for the Confederacy. After the end of the war he returned to Texas and took part in the restoration of order, including serving as a delegate to the state constitutional convention in 1866.

John Hancock during the postbellum period.

Post war years[edit]

In 1870 he was elected to the United States Congress and served from 1871 to 1877. He served again from 1883 to 1885. He supported the Native American policy of the Ulysses S. Grant, which called for placing Native Americans on reservations under supervision of the federal government. While in Congress he helped in the passage of acts related to Native American policy. These acts included changing the manner of issuing rations to Native Americans on the reservations, stipulating that they were to be given once a week, as well as prohibiting Native American hunting-parties unless accompanied by United States Army troops. This latter policy ended raids by Native Americans from the reservations. He also helped establish a military telegraph around the Texas frontier.


He died in Austin in 1893 and is buried in Oakwood Cemetery.


On the eighth season of Who Do You Think You Are?, actress and comedian Aisha Tyler learned that Congressman John Hancock was her great-great-great-grandfather.


  1. ^ John Hancock from the Handbook of Texas Online. Retrieved 1 Juli 2010. Texas State Historical Association
  2. ^ "John Allen Hancock". USGennet. Retrieved 1 July 2010. 
  3. ^ George Duncan Hancock from the Handbook of Texas Online. Retrieved 1 Juli 2010. Texas State Historical Association
  4. ^ Guttery, Ben (2008). Representing Texas: a Comprehensive History of U.S. and Confederate Senators and Representatives from Texas. BookSurge Publishing. p. 77. ISBN 978-1-4196-7884-4. 

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Edward Degener
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 4th congressional district

Succeeded by
Roger Q. Mills
Preceded by
Roger Q. Mills
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 5th congressional district

Succeeded by
De Witt C. Giddings
Preceded by
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 10th congressional district

Succeeded by
Joseph D. Sayers