Each year, near the middle of May, folks in and around Charlotte may start hearing a lot about MeckDec Day. You see, MeckDec Day is a pretty big deal in the Queen City.
Here's why: On May 20, 1775, the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence was read from the courthouse steps at noon, making Charlotte the first American governing body to declare independence from Great Britain – more than a year before the Thomas Jefferson-authored declaration adopted by the Second Continental Congress.
Every year, events are held to commemorate and celebrate the Mecklenburg Declaration on May 20, which has also become known as MeckDec Day. This year, festivities will include celebrations at the Charlotte Museum of History on Saturday and Olde Mecklenburg Brewery on Sunday, followed by the annual noon commemoration in uptown on Monday.
Check out may20thsociety.org to learn more and to see a schedule of MeckDec Day events.
Here are more MeckDec Day Facts:
- In the spring of 1775, the American colonies were at war with the British. Mecklenburg County civic leaders gathered at the log courthouse (corner of Trade and Tryon streets) to discuss the crisis.
- On May 19, 1775, a rider brings news of a massacre of colonists by British troops at Lexington. In response, the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence was drafted, unanimously adopted, and read from the courthouse steps on May 20 at noon.
- For this reason, the date “May 20, 1775,” is on the state flag of North Carolina.
- Having declared independence, the next step was to establish a new code of governance for the county so on May 31 a committee of safety in Charlotte adopts 20 resolutions (now known as the “Mecklenburg Resolves”). These are essentially executive bylaws designed to set forth how the county is to be governed, now that it is independent from Great Britain.
- A copy of the declaration was given to a local merchant, Captain James Jack, to deliver to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia.
- North Carolina congressional representatives never present the Mecklenburg Declaration to the national congress, however, after two of the state's delegates report that reconciliation with the British crown might be in progress.
- In June 1775, the Mecklenburg Resolves are published in at least three newspapers.
- North Carolina was the first state to vote for independence by authorizing its delegates to vote on it in April 1776. Then on July 4, 1776, the national Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress.
- Unfortunately, all original copies of the Mecklenburg Declaration were lost when fire destroyed the house of secretary J.M. Alexander in 1800. A working copy survived the fire and Alexander made a new copy that is currently held at the University of North Carolina.
- On May 20, 1822, the first public commemoration of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence was held in Charlotte.
- It would take 50 years for MeckDec to receive national recognition. The centennial celebration of the declaration had 40,000 attendees when Charlotte’s population was only 6,000.
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