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From the Raleigh Register of April 30, 1819



It is not probably known to many of our readers, that the citizens of Mecklenburgh County, in this State, made a Declaration of Independence more than a year before Congress made theirs. The following document on the subject has lately come to the hands of the Editor from unquestionable authority, and is published that it may go down to posterity.


In the spring of 1775, the leading characters of Mecklenburgh County, stimulated by that enthusiastick patriotism which elevates the mind above considerations of individual aggrandizement, and scorning to shelter themselves from the impending storm, by submission to lawless power, &c˙, &c˙, held several detached meetings, in each of which the individual sentiments were, "that the cause of


Boston was the cause of all; that their destinies were indissolubly connected, with those of their Eastern fellow-citizens; and that they must either submit to all the impositions which an unprincipled, and to them an unrepresented, Parliament might impose; or support their brethren who were doomed to sustain the first shock of that power, which, if successful there, would ultimately overwhelm all in the common calamity." Conformably to these principles, Colonel Thomas Polk, through solicitation, issued an order to each Captain' s Company in the County of Mecklenburgh, (then comprising the present County of Cabarrus,) directing each Militia Company to elect two persons, and delegate to them ample power to devise ways and means to aid and assist their suffering brethren in Boston, and also generally to adopt measures to extricate themselves from the impending storm, and to secure unimpaired their inalienable rights, privileges, and liberties, from the dominant grasp of British imposition and tyranny.

In conformity to said order, on the nineteenth of May, 1775, the said Delegation met in Charlotte, vested with unlimited powers; at which time official news, by express, arrived of the battle of Lexington on that day of the preceding month. Every Delegate felt the value and importance of the prize, and the awful and solemn crisis which had arrived; every bosom swelled with indignation at the malice, inveteracy, and insatiable revenge, developed in the late attack at Lexington. The universal sentiment was: let us not flatter ourselves that popular harangues or resolves, that popular vapour will avert the storm, or vanquish our common enemy; let us deliberate; let us calculate the issue — the probable result; and then let us act with energy, as brethren leagued to preserve our property, our lives, and, what is still more endearing, the liberties of America. Abraham Alexander was then elected Chairman, and John McKnitt Alexander Clerk. After a free and full discussion of the various objects for which the Delegation had been convened, it was unanimously ordained:

Resolved, That whoever directly or indirectly abetted, or in any way, form, or manner, countenanced the unchartered and dangerous invasion of our rights, as claimed by Great Britain, is an enemy to this Country, to America, and to the inherent and inalienable rights of man.

Resolved, That we, the citizens of Mecklenburgh County, do hereby dissolve the political bands which have connected us to the Mother Country, and hereby absolve ourselves from all allegiance to the British Crown, and abjure all political connection, contract, or association with that Nation, who have wantonly trampled on our rights and liberties, and inhumanly shed the innocent blood of American patriots at Lexington.

Resolved, That we do hereby declare ourselves a free and independent people; are, and of right ought to be, a sovereign and self-governing Association, under the control of no power other than that of our God and the general government of the Congress; to the maintenance of which independence, we solemnly pledge to each other our mutual co-operation, our lives, our fortunes, and our most sacred honour.

Resolved, That as we now acknowledge the existence and control of no law or legal officer, civil or military, within this County, we do hereby ordain and adopt, as a rule of life, all, each and every of our former laws; wherein, nevertheless, the Crown of Great Britain never can be considered as holding rights, privileges, immunities, or authority therein.

Resolved, That it is also further decreed, that all, each, and every military officer in this County, is hereby reinstated to his former command and authority, he acting conformably to these regulations. And that every Member present of this Delegation shall henceforth be a civil officer, viz: a Justice of the Peace, in the character of a "Committee man," to issue process, hear and determine all matters of controversy, according to said adopted laws, and to preserve peace, and union, and harmony, in said County; and to use every exertion to spread the love of country and fire of freedom throughout America, until a more general and organized Government be established in this Province.

A number of by-laws were also added, merely to protect the Association from confusion, and to regulate their general conduct as citizens. After sitting in the Court-House all night, neither sleepy, hungry, nor fatigued, and after discussing every paragraph, they were all passed, sanctioned, and decreed, unanimously, about two o' clock, A˙ M˙, May 20. In a few days, a deputation of said Delegation convened, when Captain James Jade, of Charlotte, was deputed as express to the Congress at Philadelphia, with a copy of said Resolves and Proceedings, together with a Letter addressed to our three Representatives there, viz: Richard Caswell, William Hooper, and Joseph Hughes, under express injunction, personally, and through the State representation, to use all possible means to have said proceedings sanctioned and approved by the General Congress. On the return of Captain Jack, the Delegation learned that their proceedings were individually approved by the Members of Congress, but that it was deemed premature to lay them before the House. A joint letter from said three Members of Congress was also received, complimentary of the zeal in the common cause, and recommending perseverance, order, and energy.

The subsequent harmony, unanimity, and exertion in the cause of liberty and independence, evidently resulting from these regulations, and the continued exertion of said Delegation, apparently tranquillized this section of the State, and met with the concurrence and high approbation of the Council of Safety, who held their sessions at Newbern and Wilmington, alternately, and who confirmed the nomination and acts of the Delegation in their official capacity.

From this Delegation originated the Court of Inquiry of this County, who constituted and held their first session in Charlotte — they then held their meetings regularly at Charlotte, at Colonel James Harris' s, and at Colonel Phifer' s, alternately, one week at each place. It was a Civil Court founded on military process. Before this judicature, all suspicious persons were made to appear, who were formally tried and banished, or continued under guard. Its jurisdiction was as unlimited as toryism, and it decrees as final as the confidence and patriotism of the County. Several were arrested and brought before them from Lincoln, Rowan, and the adjacent Counties.

[The foregoing is a true copy of the papers on the above subject, left in my hands by John McKnitt Alexander, deceased. I find it mentioned on file, that the original book was burned, April, 1800; that a copy of the proceedings was sent to Hugh Williamson, in New-York, then writing a history of North-Carolina, and that a copy was sent to General W˙ R˙ Davie.