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Hancock Leaves Congress

John Hancock
John Hancock

From Diary of the American Revolution, Vol I. Compiled by Frank Moore and published in 1859.

October 29. –This morning President Hancock took leave of the Congress in the following speech: –“Gentlemen, Friday last completed two years and five months since you did me the honor of electing me to fill this chair. As I could never flatter myself your choice proceeded from any idea of my abilities, but rather from a partial opinion of my attachment to the liberties of America, I felt myself under the strongest obligations to discharge the duties of the office, and I accepted the appointment with the firmest resolution to go through the business annexed to it in the best manner I was able. Every argument conspired to make me exert myself, and I endeavored by industry and attention to make up for every other deficiency. As to my conduct, both in and out of Congress, in the execution of your business, it is improper for me to say any thing. You are the best judges. But I think I shall be forgiven, if I say I have spared no pains, expense, or labor, to gratify your wishes, and to accomplish the views of Congress. My health being much impaired, I find some relaxation absolutely necessary, after such constant application; I must therefore request your indulgence for leave of absence for two months. But I cannot take my departure, gentlemen, without expressing my thanks for the civility and politeness I have experienced from you. It is impossible to mention this without a heartfelt pleasure. If in the course of so long a period as I have had the honor to fill this chair, any expressions may have dropped from me that may have given the least offence to any member, as it was not intentional, so I hope his candor will pass it over.

“May every happiness, gentlemen, attend you both as members of this House and as individuals; and I pray Heaven that unanimity and perseverance may go hand in hand in this House; and that every thing which may tend to distract or divide your councils may be forever banished.” 1


1 Gordon, ii. 296: –On the 1st of November, Congress elected Henry Laurens to the chair, made vacant by Hancock’s resignation.

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