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Mec Deck: The FIRST Independence Day

Since publik skools don’t seem to teach the importance of the Declaration of Independence and the foundation of American liberty…then May 20, 1775 is certainly one date most folks probably haven’t heard of.

It just so happens that I live in Mecklenburg County, NC — the original home of American Independence. I’ve often wondered if fate somehow brought me here….

Here’s the story of Meck Dec:

Today’s a day when some people stop to celebrate a document that nobody can seem to find. This is Meck Dec Day. May 20, 1775 is the day when the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence was said to be enacted here in Charlotte. It pre-dates the Declaration of Independence by more than a year. We here in North Carolina are so proud of the Meck Dec, we’ve even put the date of its alleged signing on the state flag.

We say alleged because nobody has ever actually found the Meck Dec. In fact, there’s no real evidence that it ever existed. Back in 1775, a rider named Capt. James Jack says he took the Meck Dec from Charlotte to the Continental Congress, but there’s no other documentation that he actually did it.

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4 Comments

  1. Having attended the unveiling of the Captain Jack statute last night and all the festivities, it is quite exciting news. Someone has offered $10,000 for proof of the MecDec declaration.

    Comment by PatriotMom — May 20, 2010 @ 3:04 pm - May 20, 2010

  2. Seems like I heard something similar about SC. Maybe it was NC. This sounds vaguely familiar, but have no idea where I’ve read/seen/heard this.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — May 20, 2010 @ 8:22 pm - May 20, 2010

  3. The rider’s testimony is certainly “evidence” that the Declaration existed. There are, in addition, a number of testimonies on this subject that were provided by those who were present. Supporters of Thomas Jefferson, much later, disputed the authenticity of the Declaration, but this may have been more a function of their desire that he receive principal credit for the principle of independence, as it evolved from 1774 through 1776, than of an actual post-facto plagiarism of the 1776 national declaration by the Alexanders and Davidsons who contended that it was genuine. It’s significant that John Adams accepted the Mecklenburg Declaration as valid.

    The Declaration was adopted prior to the invention of the Xerox machine, and at a time when the participants had good cause to view their lives at risk as a function of its adoption. Moreover, printing and journalism were far less developed in North Carolina than in Philadelphia, New York and New England. Consequently, our sources are limited as the result of the principals’ inability to publish the Declaration, by the chaos of the war itself (as Tarlton and others marauded throughout the Carolinas and Virginia) and by such calamities as house fires. One such event, in 1800, reportedly destroyed the few then-extant copies of the Declaration.

    Further, one should bear in mind that the events at Lexington & Concord the prior month produced a set of shock waves that reverberated throughout the colonies. The delegates to the Second Continental Congress that convened in Philadelphia starting on May 10, 1775 were responding to the British attack specifically, but that meeting had been called because it was already apparent that tensions between the colonials and the Tory government in London were near a boiling point.

    North Carolina sent delegates to the 2nd Continental Congress, but this would not have happened if Gov. Martin had had his way, just as Gov. Martin had opposed NC’s participation in the First Continental Congress in 1774. He convened the Assembly for the last time on April 4, 1775, but was completely at odds with the sentiments of the members. In essence, they proceeded to do what needed to be done without him.

    News of the conflict at Lexington & Concord was slow reaching North Carolina. Thus, it was not until May 19 that the NC patriots really got together and met to react to the Tory efforts to disarm the American people. Even though they didn’t do the greatest job of keeping minutes, there can scarcely be any question but what leading men of the colony did meet, clearly without the approval of Governor Martin, and that they endorsed the cause of independence in some measure. I do not find it surprising that this development would have taken place in western North Carolina, where pro-independence sentiment was more fervid than along the coast, and where the population felt less threatened by British naval might.

    No one disputes that the patriots meeting in Charlotte adopted the Mecklenburg Resolves on May 31, 1775, which clarified how the militias and other organs of the state would function now that the authority of the governor had effectively been nullified. Note that the war was actually well under way by the date of the Mecklenburg Declaration, as Ethan Allen’s men captured Fort Ticonderoga that very day; a critical victory key to the eventual relief of the port of Boston.

    Further information about the Mecklenburg Declaration can be found at http://www.ruralhill.net/declaration.htm.

    In other words, the events of 1775 as they unfolded compel the conclusion that if the Mecklenburg Declaration did not exist, certainly something close to it must have been agreed upon at that time as a turning point in the transition of the NC government from royal colony to independent state.

    Comment by John McCue — May 20, 2010 @ 10:14 pm - May 20, 2010

  4. In my prior post I should have mentioned that one reason the Mecklenburg Declaration wasn’t published the next day in the Charlotte Observer is that there WAS no newspaper published in Charlotte — or anywhere else in western North Carolina — in 1775. It had only been 24 years since the first newspaper (The North Carolina Gazette) had appeared in the colony, and that was in New Bern. (Incidentally, the publisher, James Davis, was probably a cousin of my ancestors then living in nearby Halifax.)

    Comment by John McCue — May 20, 2010 @ 10:26 pm - May 20, 2010

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