Manulife Financial

John Hancock - History

John Hancock

April 21, 1862, John A. Andrew, governor of Massachusetts, approved the charter of the John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company.

1862, the company's first office was a single room in the rear of a building at 41 State Street.

October 14, 1862, the Board of Directors met for the first time and elected Judge George P. Sanger president of the company.

1862, Albert Murdock, the company's first agent, was also its first policyholder. He had been instrumental in the formation of the company, and after the charter was signed, he was named its Boston General Agent. On the day before Christmas, 1862, the first policy was written on his life.

January 1864, more than half a million dollars of insurance had been placed in force, and, within less than a decade, the figure leapt toward the twenty million dollar mark.

January 1, 1864, the company’s first annual report was issued which showed outstanding policies numbered 176, representing $332,700 of insurance as at November 1, 1863.

July 1869, John Hancock's headquarters moved from State Street to the Sears Building at the corner of Washington and Court Streets.

1879, the name "industrial insurance" (a Hancock policy sold beginning in the late 1800s) came about because Hancock agents would wait outside the gates of the factory and sell policies to workers as they left at the end of the workday.

1879, Stephen H. Rhodes assumed the presidency and, during the next 30 years, propelled John Hancock into the top echelon of American business. The president's flair for advertising drew fire from parsimonious critics when he purchased 1,000 tin signs to sprinkle around railroad depots and grocery stores. During his presidency, the first John Hancock home office building was erected.

1918, because of the war, John Hancock people contributed their full measure in the long, costly struggle. Twenty-five hundred John Hancock employees, including both men and women, served in the armed forces. Those left at home turned over 68 million dollars to the government in war bond sales. The iron fence around the Clarendon building was consigned to the scrap metal drive.

1921, under the leadership of President Roland O. Lamb (1909-1921), the company surpassed its first billion dollars of insurance in force.

1924, John Hancock entered the field of group insurance, under the leadership of President Walton L. Crocker (1921-1936). Twenty-five years later, more than 43 million people had group life insurance, and John Hancock alone accounted for nearly $10 billion of group life insurance.

1944, Paul Clark, the next Hancock president (1944-1957), spearheaded construction of a new home office facility. Despite a previous estimate that the Clarendon structure would be ample for the needs of 50 years, it was already obvious that progress had overtaken optimism. Accordingly, blueprints were drawn and by the spring of 1949, the 26-story Berkeley building was ready for occupancy.

1971, under the leadership of Chairman Gerhard Bleicken and President Frank Maher, the 60-story glass John Hancock Tower was constructed in Back Bay, Boston. Occupancy of the architectural phenomenon, designed by I.M. Pei, would begin February 1976.

1985, John Hancock entered the world of sports sponsorships by signing a 15-year pact as the major sponsor of the historic Boston Marathon, a 26-mile grueling race that attracts runners from dozens of countries every Patriots' Day.

1994, the company extended its sports sponsorship by becoming a Worldwide Sponsor of the 1994 and 1996 Olympic Games, presenting added marketing leverage and exposure for the company.

1999, John Hancock prepared itself for the challenges of the new millennium. The company's conversion from a mutual to a stock company kicked off and significant progress was made to ensure the company's technology made a seamless transition into the year 2000.

2000, after moving through Y2K problem-free, John Hancock began the dawn of the new millennium with an Initial Public Offering on January 27 as it completed its historic conversion from a mutual life insurer to a stock company.

2000, John Hancock established a major national marketing platform for the company, including the signing of a five-year sponsorship deal with Major League Baseball Properties to be the exclusive financial services sponsor of Major League Baseball (MLB). The company also became the title sponsor of the “John Hancock All-Star FanFest.”

2003, Manulife Financial Corporation and John Hancock Financial Services, Inc. announced that their boards of directors had each unanimously agreed to a tax-free stock-for-stock merger of the companies creating a leading global insurance franchise.

April 28, 2004, Manulife Financial Corporation and John Hancock Financial Services Inc. (including its Canadian subsidiary Maritime Life) completed the amalgamation into one company under the name Manulife Financial. John Hancock is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Manulife Financial. The John Hancock brand will continue to be marketed in the United States.

All figures in U.S. dollars.