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Wednesday, July 3, 2019


Plaque Dedicated to the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence

Before the colonies declared their independence from England in the famous Declaration of Independence presented in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1776, a declaration of independence had already been written and presented by Thomas Polk on the courthouse steps in Charlotte, North Carolina’s town square at the crossroads of Trade and Tryon Streets on May 20, 1775.

Another document was written by a committee led by Thomas Polk when they met at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse to adopt the Mecklenburg Resolves. Unlike the disputed Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, the authenticity of the Resolves has never been in question. This document still exists and was published in the North Carolina Gazette on June 1775. The Resolves was a revolutionary set of resolutions denying Parliament authority over the colonies and investing power over the Provincial Congress. In the absence of an operational new government, the resolves set up some basic set of guidelines. Further, the resolves stated anyone who received a commission from the Crown would be deemed an “enemy to his country” and would be subject to arrest. The country’s militia companies were ordered to arm themselves and maintain vigilance. After the Resolves were widely circulated, similar resolves were adopted in Wilmington on June 19, in Fayetteville on June 30, and in Pitt County on July 1. All of these measures were a prelude to the Halifax Resolves which were signed by the delegates to the Fourth Provincial Congress on April 12, 1776 to give support for the independence of all colonies.

A Rendition of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence

The Mecklenburg Resolves along with the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence were to be delivered by Captain James Jack, but when he arrived in Philadelphia the delegates were not ready to declare war. Captain Jack is quoted as saying, “You can memorialize your King, but for me and Mecklenburg County, we declare independence from Great Britain.” With that statement North Carolina declared its independence.
This is where the controversy over the legitimacy of the Mecklenburg Declaration begins. There is no question that the Mecklenburg Resolves were delivered and its contents were replicated in other documents against the Crown. But what happened to the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence that was allegedly delivered at the same time by Captain Jack?
The Second Copy Created By William Alexander From The Testimony of Those Elderly Men who were Present for the Original Reading of the First Document
The alleged Mecklenburg Declaration did not surface until 44 years later in 1819 when it was published by the Raleigh Register at the request of U.S. Senator Nathaniel Macon. Since the original document was supposedly destroyed in a fire in 1800, the text published was from the memory by John McKnitt Alexander and given to Macon by his son, William Alexander. William Polk, the son of the organizer of the Charlotte meeting, gathered testimony from several elderly men who claimed they had been present at the delivery of the Mecklenburg Declaration. The people of Mecklenburg began to celebrate the date of May 20, 1775. In fact, that date is on the North Carolina flag and the state seal to this day.
The genuineness of the document was never called into serious question until the posthumous publication of Thomas Jefferson’s work in 1829. In a letter to John Adams, Jefferson dismissed the Mecklenburg Declaration as a hoax. The North Carolina legislature was so inflamed by this development that it established a committee to investigate. The chairman of the committee was Thomas G. Polk who had organized the 50th anniversary celebration of the Mecklenburg Declaration so it came as no surprise that he supported the authenticity of the document.  
In spite of North Carolina’s efforts to claim the Mecklenburg Declaration was authentic, a number of scholars outside the state maintained their stance that the Mecklenburg document was a fraud. In a 1907 publication written by William Henry Hoyt titled “The Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence” declared a study of evidence showed the alleged Declaration of Mecklenburg County on may 20th, 1775 is “spurious.” He maintained that the construction of the declaration was a misconstruction of the Mecklenburg Resolves of May 31, 1775. Most North Carolinians ignored Hoyt’s findings except for Samuel A. Ashe, editor, historian, and descendant of one of the state’s most prominent families. The first volume of his work, History of North Carolina (1908) presented both sides of the issue, but ultimately agreed with those who were dissenters.
The North Carolina assembly broke out in a contentious fight over a bill authorizing the purchase of Ashe’s book for the public schools. House Speaker Augustus W. Graham, the son of a governor and descendant of a “signer” of the Mecklenburg Declaration took the floor and defeated the authorization bill. Opponents of the bill appealed to patriotism and noted the date of May 20, 1775 was enshrined on the North Carolina flag and the state seal.

A Commemorative Coin Minted in Charlotte, North Carolina

The negative opinions of professional historians toward the Mecklenburg Declaration included such authorities as Stephen B. Weeks, John Spencer Bassett, and R.D. W. Connor stood by their opinions unwavering. One academic who did support the Mecklenburg Declaration was Archibald Henderson, a mathematics professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. However, most modern scholars maintain the Mecklenburg Declaration is a myth…almost.
But just hang on a minute because I discovered an article by James A. Becker who adamantly stands by the authenticity of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence in his lengthy 2015 article titled:  Proof the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence is Not a Myth. In his article he uses the published letters between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams to demonstrate the clash between them in regards to the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence and its legitimacy. I’m wondering how they could even talk about it if it was just a myth that early on…just sayin’. Anyway, my take away from this article is that Jefferson was defending his own Declaration of Independence and avoiding a possible scandal of plagiarism in which he used parts of the Mecklenburg document to pen his own draft for a declaration of independence. John Adams, on the other hand, seems to have an opinion that supports the Mecklenburg declaration as authentic after some back and forth in their letters. 
What really got my attention and altered my first opinion was an astounding piece of information I had never heard before in any of the history books I have read or been taught about the American Revolution, but the "Proof" article went to extreme length to point out. Keep in mind that once war is declared, there is no going back, and a war must be financed. 

The Continental Congress was in the middle of a secret meeting in a discussion about money and the Continental dollar when Captain Jack interrupted their discussion to present them with the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence and the Mecklenburg Resolves on June 20, 1776.
The article, Proof of Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence is Not a Myth  by James Becker states:

During this interruption, the Clandestine Agent was able to quickly see the value of the Mecklenburg Declaration as the North Carolina delegates moved toward the desk of President John Hancock, and Captain James Jack met with the delegates and President Hancock. The Mecklenburg Declaration is a short document and the Agent would have been impressed (as John Adams reflects in his letter of June 22, 1819 to Thomas Jefferson, or on July 15, 1819 to Reverend Bentley upon reading a part of it.)
This document was valuable to him and would provide King Louis XVI with confidence that the Revolution was ready. He would promise Captain James Jack that he intended to utilize one copy of it for the benefit of the Revolution. The Agent was a Mason, (as was Captain Jack), and the Agent could have requested that they not make this document public knowledge, which would account for the document being hidden after the Revolution.
The Clandestine Agent has a name and his return to Europe was for the purpose of obtaining Gold to back the Revolution. Jacob Becker was the Clandestine Agent, returning to release the Gold that would ship without arousing a lot of European suspicion. He is not French, nor Spanish, but related to the Bourbons. His family fled in 1244 as the last of the Cathar to exist in safety with their fellow Jews. This is a special hoard of Gold brought to the caves in France. This Gold was dedicated to the building of a “Promised Land.”
The completion of the mission was far more important than any personal credit. The fear that the mission would be captured by people who would use the Gold for alternate purposes made it necessary to employ strict personal self—discipline. The Templars had filled the caves and would develop the Masonic Order that would assist in building the House not built by Hands. As he sailed back to Europe, the clandestine agent used the Mecklenburg Declaration to construct a signal for King Louis XVI that would communicate the following objectives had been completed after his return to America.
The signed Declaration of Independence would signal: The objective of Unity, the new Nation had been secured; the Colonies that needed to be prepared, had been visited and prepared; that serious “Portrait known as Washington meets with his staff on October 14” that has been displayed at Yorktown Battlefield Museum next to the painting of General Lincoln taking the Yorktown Surrender.
Journal of Continental Congress vol.2, pages 100 and 101.
Recorded business consist of a set of directions to George Washington. Secret Session after formal session to discuss currency legislation voted on June 22 and 23. Jacob Becker’s Masonic Membership.
This Gold is discussed in Caron de Beaumarchais letter to the Committee of Secret Correspondence date August 18, 1776. When Caron hears of the Signed Declaration of Independence, it is his clue to write this letter. By mentioning this Gold in this context he uses, he is disclosing that his letter is a part of a planned activity.
Political objectives have been resolved or removed; a “Secret Treaty” signed, and the information leak from Congress to Parliament and the King of England had been contained. These objectives had been discovered by way of applying the nine principles of warfare to improve the chances of victory. This assured King Louis XVI that the risk he was about to take had been minimized.
While it was important to send the supplies before it was too late, it was also important not to send them too early.
These same objectives can be located within Silas Deane’s letter (dated August 18, 1776) to the committee of Secret Correspondence. Deane’s letter reflects the worrying that would occur after the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, until this knowledge reached the ears in Europe.
This communication lag time enabled us to demonstrate the implementation of planning in France. A secret plan can begin to disappear if the communication’s lag time is acknowledged carefully. Silas Deane is not repeating what they said in America, but what they said in France (before what they knew happened in America) and tells of the worry in France because it was planned in France.
The role of the Clandestine Agent with enormous influence, financial aid, military aid, and valuable insight, was assisting the birth of this country, and is also reflected in the Silas Dean letter. Deane records Count Vergennes (on the subject of independency) as stating, “That as to independency it was an event in the womb of time, and it would be highly improper for him to say anything on that subject until it had actually taken place.” (Remark made on July 11, 1776 in France after the birth had occurred on July 4, 1776 in Philadelphia which the Count would not have known.)
*PROOF posted on website
Proof of Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence is Not a Myth
By James Becker 2015, Raleigh, NC email:
I know this was a long and detailed excerpt from that 31 page article, but it detailed a very important reason why the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence disappeared and how it was for the greater good of the American Revolution about to take place.

Hezekiah Alexander (signer of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence)Home--Now A Museum of Charlotte History and in My Neighborhood on Shamrock Drive

I think it’s important for North Carolinians to acknowledge and take pride in being the first to declare independence from the tyrannical the King of England. The patriots of North Carolina who signed that declaration were incredibly brave to do so. For the people of North Carolina it is a bitter pill to swallow that their declaration which preceded the Declaration of Independence of July 4, 1776 has been ignored, unacknowledged, and even denounced as a hoax. Imagine how hurtful it must be to have one’s ancestors disparaged and their courageous patriotism called into question and even expunged from the annals of American history.

Believe what you wish, but I, for one, believe the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence to be genuine and served to greatly increase the chance for victory in the colonies’ fight for freedom.


A Plaque in the Middle of Independence Square in Charlotte, NC Commemorating the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary Battle fought In Charlotte in which the North Carolina Militia were called "Hornets" by Gen. Cornwallis.


The Statues at Each Corner of Independence Square in the Middle of Uptown Charlotte. The Plaque is between Them in the Middle of the Street Crossing 

The Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence is commemorated by a plaque in the middle of the intersection of Trade and Tryon Streets now known as Independence Square. This particular square also has a history. Trade street began as a Native American trading path and crossed what used to be called the Great Wagon Road, but is now named Tryon Street.

Diverse stories filled with heart


  1. Sarah, thank you for sharing. I had not heard of the Mecklenburg Declaration Of Independence. This was interesting.

    1. Of course, I have lived in Charlotte, North Carolina most of my life so I did know about it. It wasn't until I researched it, however, that I learned of the secret use of the Mecklenburg Declaration to ensure financial and military support from the French before the official Declaration of Independence that began the Revolutionary War. So, it turned out to be a persuasive document used to get the French on board. I thought it was disheartening though that the Mecklenburg Declaration was demeaned by the annals of history as a fraud or a hoax. I think that hurt the spirit of Charlotteans.
      Thank you so much for coming and commenting Laurean.

  2. How interesting! I'd never heard of this before now. Fascinating.

    1. Catherine, it's just one of North Carolina's fascinating historical happenings. I'm glad I got to tell this bit of North Carolina history on the eve of July 4th.
      Thank you for your comment. I really appreciate it.

  3. Loved the post, Sarah. I was not aware of this declaration. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Because I live in Charlotte, I always knew about the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, but I never gave it much thought until I decided to do some research. I was shocked by what I discovered, but it certainly answered many questions for me.

      Thank you for coming by. It's always good to see you.

  4. I never cared much for history during my school years, but now I enjoy reading the historical blogs by PRP authors. I didn’t know about the Mecklenburgh DOI and read some of your interesting blog to aloud to my husband. Thanks for sharing, Sarah.

    1. I liked American history, but not so much on world history or ancient history back in the day. But now that I'm older, I have grown very fond of history. I hope your husband enjoyed this piece of history, too.
      Thanks so much for coming, C.A.

  5. Wow, utterly fascinating, Sarah! Never heard of this before. Perfect July 4 reading

    1. Thank you, Lindsay, I was amazed by this information when I researched for this article. I had no idea the depth of what really happened because of that Mecklenburg declaration until then.
      Thank you so much for coming.

  6. I'm a little late, but an interesting bit of history I never knew. Thanks for sharing, Sarah.

  7. You're never too late, Kristy. I was glad to discover this information about Charlotte. Although I knew about the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, I wasn't aware of the secret mission it went on to get the financing and support from the French to help ignite the Revolutionary War. It never got the credit it deserved.

    I am so happy you came, Kristy. Thank you!