Since the publication of Governor Graham’s pamphlet shortly before the Centennial Celebration in Charlotte another copy of the Mecklenburg resolutions of the 20th of May, 1775, has been found in the possession of a grandson of Adam Brevard, now residing in Indiana. This copy has all the outward appearances of age, has been sacredly kept in the family, and is in a good state of preservation. Adam Brevard was a younger brother of Dr. Ephraim Brevard, the reputed author of these resolutions, frequently performed his brother’s writing during the active discharge of his professional duties, and was himself, a man of cultivated intellect, and Christian integrity. He kept a copy of these patriotic resolutions, mainly with the view of preserving a memento of his brother’s hand writing, and vigor of composition–not supposing for a moment, their authenticity would ever be called into question. This venerable patriot, in a manuscript account of a celebration in Iredell county on the 4th of July, 1824, in discoursing on a variety of revolutionary matters, says among other things, he was in Salisbury in June 1775, attending to his professional duties as a lawyer, and that during the sessions of the General Court in that place, the bearer of the Mecklenburg Declaration arrived on his way to Philadelphia. When the object of his mission became known, and the Mecklenburg resolutions of independence were read in open court, at the request of Col. Kennon, several Tories who were present said they were treasonable, and that the framers of them were “rushing headlong into an abyss where Congress had not dared to pass. Their intemperance, however, was suddenly arrested by a gentleman from the same county, who had entered with all his powers into the impending contest and offered to rest the propriety and justness of the proceedings, both of Mecklenburg and the Delegate, upon a decision by the “arm of flesh” with any one inclinable to abide the result. Matters, which threatened a conflict of arms were soon hushed up by this direct argument “ad hominem”, the Delegate retired to rest for the night, and, on the next morning, resumed his journey to Philadelphia.”
He also states, in the same manuscript, that in the autumn of the year 1776, he was one of the number who composed the College of Queen’s Museum, and lived with his brother, Dr. Ephraim Brevard, and that in ransacking a number of his brother’s papers thrown aside as useless, he came across the fragments of a Declaration of Independence by the people of Mecklenburg. Upon inquiry, his brother informed him they were the rudiments out of which a short time before, he had framed the instrument dispatched to Congress. The same authority states that he was in Philadelphia in the latter part of the year 1778, and until May of the year 1779. During that time, William Sharp. Esq., of Rowan county, arrived in Philadelphia, as a Delegate to Congress from North Carolina. Amidst a variety of topics introduced for discussion was that of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. Hon. John Penn, of North Carolina, said in presence of several members of Congress, that he was “highly pleased with the bold and distinguished spirit with which so enlightened a county of the State he had the honor to represent had “exhibited to the world”, and, furthermore, that the bearer of the instrument to Congress had conducted himself very judiciously on the occasion by previously opening his business to the Delegates of his own State, who assured him that the other States would soon act in the same patriotic manner as Mecklenburg had done.”
This important and additional testimony, here slightly condensed, but facts not changed, is extracted from a communication in the “Southern Home”, by Dr. J. M. Davidson, of Florida, a gentleman of great moral worth and Christian integrity, and grandson of Adam Brevard, a brother of Dr. Ephraim Brevard, the reputed author of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence.
A brief extract from Governor Martin’s dispatch to the British Secretary of State, dated 30th of June, 1775, as found in Wheeler’s “Historical Sketches,” will now be given, which cannot be viewed in any other light than that of disinterested evidence. The Governor proceeds by saying, “the situation in which I find myself at present is indeed, my Lord, most despicable and mortifying. … I live, alas! ingloriously, only to deplore it. … The resolves of the Committee of Mecklenburg, which your Lordship will find in the enclosed newspaper, surpass all the horrid and treasonable publications that the inflammatory spirits of the continent have yet produced; and your Lordship may depend, its authors and abettors will not escape, when my hands are sufficiently strengthened to attempt the recovery of the lost authority of the Government. A copy of these resolves was sent off, I am informed, by express, to the Congress at Philadelphia, as soon as they were passed in the committee.”
The reader will mark, in particular, the closing sentence of this extract, as confirmatory of what actually took place on the 20th of May, 1775. Captain James Jack, then of Charlotte, a worthy and patriotic citizen, did set out a few days after the Convention adjourned, on “horse back”, as the “express” to Congress at Philadelphia, and faithfully executed the object of his mission. (For further particulars, see sketch of the Jack Family.)
The resolutions passed by the county committee of safety on the 31st of May following, and which some have erroneously confounded with those of the 20th of May, were a necessary consequence, embracing simply “rules and regulations” for the internal government of the county, and hence needed no “express” to Congress.
The preceding testimony, conjoined with that of Gen. Joseph Graham, Rev. Humphrey Hunter, Captain James Jack, the hearer of the Mecklenburg Declaration to Congress, Rev. Francis Cummins, Major John Davidson, Isaac Alexander and others, previously referred to in the State pamphlet of 1831, and the exhaustive “Memoir” of the late Ex-Governor Graham–all men of exalted worth and Christian integrity, ought to be “sufficient to satisfy incredulity itself,” as to the genuineness of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, and of its promulgation to the world on the 20th of May, 1775. And yet, in the face of this strong phalanx of unimpeachable testimony, there are a few who have attempted to rob North Carolina of this brightest gem in the crown of her early political history, and tarnish, by base and insidious cavils the fair name and reputation of a band of Revolutionary patriots, whose memories and heroic deeds the present generation and posterity will ever delight to honor.
Mecklenburg sent as a Delegate to the first Provincial Congress direct from the people, which met at Newbern on the 25th of August, 1774, Benjamin Patton.
To the meeting at Hillsboro’, on the 21st of August, 1775, Thomas Polk, John Phifer, Waightstill Avery, John McKnitt Alexander, James Houston, and Samuel Martin.
To the meeting at Halifax on the 4th of April, 1776, John Phifer, Robert Irwin and John McKnitt Alexander.
To the meeting at Halifax, on the 12th of November, 1776 (which formed the first State Constitution) John Phifer, Robert Irwin, Waighstill Avery, Hezekiah Alexander and Zaccheus Wilson.
All of these Delegates were unwavering patriots, and nearly all were signers of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. Not only were the patriotic sons of Mecklenburg county active and vigilant in those trying times, but no portion of our State was more constantly the theater of stirring events during the drama of the American Revolution. “Its inhabitants,” says Tarleton in his campaigns, “were more hostile to England than any others in America.”