Dear Fellow Signers of the Declaration of Independence:

Now that our noble document is complete, it is time to address the elephant in the room: my name is much bigger than everyone else’s. I’ll be the first to admit that it is absolutely massive. Yet I must also speak this self-evident truth: it is not entirely my fault.

The fact is I thought we were all doing big signatures. That’s what I was told. Do none of you remember Thomas Jefferson—hopped up on parchment fumes and cheap barleywine—running around telling everyone our “sigs” had to be “freakin’ huge”? Then I go first, and everybody bursts out laughing like I did something foolish.

I hereby call on my brethren of the Second Continental Congress—those who I know to be defenders of liberty, progress, and the values of the Enlightenment, to which we are all fan-boyishly devoted for some reason—to publicly stand up and say everybody told John Hancock we were doing big sigs.

Of late—in taverns and shops, on the streets, and in drawing rooms—I have overheard people asking one another for their “John Hancocks.” Like that’s just a thing now? I do not want my name to be a thing. Do you want your names to be things, my Founding Brothers-in-Arms? I say to you, Pat Henry—remember that night you, me, and Sammy Adams got totally wasted? Do you want “staggering into the town square and defiling the steps of the courthouse” henceforth to be known as “Patrick Henrying”? I thought not.

Let me be fully honest with you, brothers. The night of the signing, I did have too much wine. I meant to go big with the signature, but I went overboard. Trembling from the drink, my hand slipped, forcing me into an enormous “J.” And then it was off to the races. Each attempt to correct my mistake only made it worse, and eventually, I just had to commit.

We had options, though. We could have pasted on a few extra inches of parchment to fit all the bigger signatures or made a new version entirely, but James Madison had to return to Virginia to carve soap or something, so everybody just left. I’ve said sorry. Shouldn’t that be enough? Isn’t that why we’re building this whole system—so that people like us can do whatever we want without consequence?

I know now that I should not have told all of Boston that I wrote the Declaration of Independence by myself. That was wrong. But I got so many free drinks. I am most ashamed to report that one evening in Cambridge, I imbibed so much that I Patrick Henried all over John Harvard’s little schoolhouse.

Fine, you want the full confession? Better you hear it from me. Even though it was an accident, I saw an opportunity to make “Big John” a thing. I was planning Big John business ventures of all kinds, primarily Big John-branded whale oil candles. I am now on the hook for literally tens of thousands of candles. If anyone would like to purchase a few dozen cases, please let me know posthaste.

I understand that history will wonder about me: Did he have a massive ego? Shaky hands? A penchant for the drink? As I’ve addressed in this letter, yes, yes, and ohhh yeahhh. I own my faults, and I humbly ask you to forgive me. For if you don’t, I will have no choice but to make common cause with the British and bring vengeance down upon your heads. Especially you, Jefferson.

As a show of good faith and to rectify my error, I would like each one of you to sign this letter next to my very appropriately-sized signature and append it to the official Declaration of Independence to demonstrate for posterity that I, John Hancock, do know how to sign my name regular-style.

With ardent patriotism and deep regret,