Even though we can’t show you an original copy of this declaration, it is written on our hearts as the descendants of those who whole-heartedly supported it as they prepared for the inevitable war against King George III of Great Britain.
The Americans’ beef wasn’t with the people of Great Britain – many of them were their relatives and friends – their beef was with the King – and they knew their friends and relatives back in Scotland were secretly wishing them well for they were also under the thumb of the King.
The year was 1775. The date was May 20.
The people of Mecklenburg County in the backcountry of North Carolina had had all they could take of King George and the oppressive laws and taxes he and the British Parliament continued to impose on the American colonists. After all, the reason most of them had left Europe was to escape monarchs who had little or no regard for their subjects.
The years leading up to May 20, 1775 had been tense. On May 2, 1771 a group of Mecklenburg County residents had taken matters into their own hands and blown up a shipment of munitions King Charles had ordered to be transported from Charleston, South Carolina to Rowan and Orange counties in North Carolina to put down The Regulator Movement.
The perpetrators of that gunpowder plot had been declared traitors and were still being hunted down by the Royal Government authorities when the county militias sent representatives to a convention in Charlotte to debate political conditions. The result was the writing of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence more than a year before the more famous one was written in Philadelphia.
The document set out the citizens’ grievances and declared themselves free and independent of Great Britain. Sadly, the original copy of the declaration was lost in a fire at the home of John McKnitt Alexander on April 6, 1800. The Declaration was reconstructed from the memories of those who had written it and signed it.
There are Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence doubters today, but I have no doubt that it existed. It was followed just 11 days later by the Mecklenburg Resolves, which was a similar document.
Captain Archibald McCurdy of the Rocky River Presbyterian Church area of old Mecklenburg County that is present-day Cabarrus County, stood at the Mecklenburg County log courthouse steps and heard the Declaration read. He went home and told his wife, Maggie, they needed to make a list of the people they knew they could trust. There were a few Loyalists in the area.
Whatever you’re doing this Saturday, May 20, take a moment to reflect on what the brave people of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina did 248 years ago. If you live in the United States of America, ponder the stand they took on that day. The King proclaimed them to be in a state of rebellion, and the men who signed the document risked their very lives by proclaiming they were free.
Since my last blog post
Spring is finally in full force here in North Carolina. All I have to do is put a hanging basket of pretty flowers on a hook on the side porch and I can count on “Mama Bird” – a Carolina Wren – to build a nest in it. She’s done is for decades.
Having bronchitis and no set schedule allowed me time to do some reading last week. I have some interesting books to tell you about in my May 22 and June 5 blog posts.
I continue to remind folks on Facebook to purchase my local history books. I’m trying not to be a nuisance.
Until my next blog post
I hope you have a good book to read, including Harrisburg, Did You Know? Cabarrus History, Books 1 and 2, as well as The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.
Don’t forget to visit my website (https://www.janetmorrisonbooks.com) and subscribe to my newsletter. I have special plans for May 20 and I can’t wait to tell you all about them in my July newsletter!
Make time for family and friends.
Remember the people of Ukraine.
Happy Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence Day on Saturday!