In 1775 the 13 British Colonies in North American were contemplating a break from Great Britain. As word of the Boston Tea Party spread through the North Carolina Colony, people in Mecklenburg County decided to have a meeting, it was led by Colonel Thomas Polk, commander of Charlotte’s Militia. A total of 9 local militia groups were represented. The decisions of this meeting would be binding for all Mecklenburg citizens.
On Friday, May 19th, 1775, as they were meeting in the courthouse at Trade and Tryon St, an express rider gave news that British soldiers had shot and killed fellow British citizens in the battles of Lexington and Concord. They then wrote five resolutions that now make up ‘The Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence’, declaring that they had separated themselves from Great Britain.
The five resolutions stated that Great Britain had; “wantonly trampled on our rights and liberties and inhumanly shed the innocent blood of American patriots at Lexington”, that we “dissolve the political bands which have connected us to the Mother country”, we declare ourselves “a free and independent people,” and “The Crown of Great Britain never can be considered as holding rights, privileges, immunities, or authority therein.” View the complete text of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence here.
It was then read from the courthouse steps at noon to a large gathering of Mecklenburg county citizens. Everyone knew about the meeting, and the news of Lexington and Concord increased their interest. Since the decisions would be binding on all of the citizens, people came from all over North Carolina.
They then decided to revise the declaration to make it more organized and coherent and they appointed a committee to revise it. By May 31st ‘The Mecklenburg Resolves’ was complete. This new document was less emotional, more logical, and much better organized. Read the complete text of the Mecklenburg Resolves here.
On June 1, 1775 Militia Captain James Jack (statue pictured above, in front of the CPCC main campus) rode to Philadelphia to give both documents to the Second Continental Congress. The representatives from North Carolina read and approved the documents. However, at that time, the rest of Congress was approving a petition to the King asking for reconciliation. The citizens of Mecklenburg County were the only free people until the rest of America declared their independence on July 4, 1776.
This year there will be 3 major events on May 20th to celebrate Meck Dec Day:
Meck Dec Family Fun Day – Charlotte Museum of History – 10 a.m.-2 p.m.: The free “Family Fun Day,” will include educational presentations, drum circles, kids crafts, and more. 3500 Shamrock Dr., Charlotte, NC
Celebrate Meck Dec Day – Olde Mecklenburg Brewery – 11 a.m.-11 p.m.: Enjoy some custom-made Captain Jack Pilsner (named after the guy that rode the ‘Meck Dec’ up to Philadelphia from Charlotte). A portion of the proceeds will benefit the USO of N.C. 4150 Yancey Rd, Charlotte, NC
Liberty or Death – Revolutionary War in the Carolinas – Saturday, May 20th, from 10 am to 4 pm and Sunday, May 21st from 10 am to 3 pm: More than 300 reenactors will form infantry and cavalry regiments for one of the largest living history demonstrations in the southeast. Over the two days they will recreate the battles of Kings Mountain, Camden and Eutaw Springs, the three largest Revolutionary War battles in South Carolina and a turning point of the war. This will feature historically accurate battlefield activities including guard mounts, infantry and artillery drills, caring for the wounded, ration distributions, cooking demonstrations, and military field music. Brattonsville Historic District, McConnells, SC (just southwest of Rock Hill).