21st Century

20th Century

19th Century

APRIL 6, 1800

SEPTEMBER 3, 1800

APRIL 30, 1819

JUNE 5, 1819

JUNE 22, 1819

JULY 9, 1819

MAY 20, 1822

MAY 20, 1825

IN YEAR 1831

MAY 20, 1861

MAY 20, 1875

MARCH 11, 1881

IN THE YEAR 1884

MAY 20, 1898

18th Century

APRIL 6, 1800
Fire destroys a house owned by J. M. Alexander, Secretary of the May 20th Convention, and keeper of the minutes, at his estate called “Alexandriana” in North Charlotte. The minute book with the May 19 – 20 convention records, and papers and records of a Court of Inquiry are burned. Although Alexander’s notes and working copy of the Mecklenburg Declaration survive the fire, all original copies of the Mecklenburg Declaration are lost. No subsequent originals have ever been located. This leads to a widely held myth that all records relating to the Mecklenburg Declaration were destroyed, and that the existing copy was re-written solely from memory (as opposed to from J. M. Alexander’s surviving notes).

SEPTEMBER 3, 1800
J. M. Alexander makes a new copy of the convention record and Mecklenburg Declaration for William R. Davie, using the working copy kept at his home which escaped the fire. This copy exists and is held at the University of North Carolina.

APRIL 30, 1819
Dr. Joseph McKnitt Alexander, son of J. M. Alexander, publishes in the Raleigh Register the convention record and Mecklenburg Declaration text based on the surviving records.

JUNE 5, 1819
The Essex Register in Salem, Massachusetts, reprints the Mecklenburg Declaration story from the Raleigh Register. John Adams reads a copy of the Mecklenburg Declaration as printed in the Essex Register.

JUNE 22, 1819
Adams
sends Thomas Jefferson a letter enclosing a copy of the Mecklenburg Declaration from the Essex Register, noting, “The genuine sense of America at that moment was never expressed so well before, nor since.”

JULY 9, 1819
Jefferson
replies to Adams, doubting the authenticity of the Mecklenburg Declaration, writing: “Nor do I affirm, positively, that this paper is a fabrication… But I shall believe it such until positive and solemn proof of its authenticity shall be produced… For the present, I must be an unbeliever in the apocryphal gospel.” Although Jefferson’s specific factual objections are addressed, this begins a historical controversy that has continued unabated to this day.

MAY 20, 1822
The first public commemoration of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence is held in Charlotte. Congressman William Davidson states that North Carolina was “First in Liberty” and publishes a pamphlet with recollections of survivors from 1775 attesting to the validity of the Mecklenburg Declaration.

MAY 20, 1825
The fiftieth (50th) Anniversary of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence is celebrated in Charlotte.

IN YEAR 1831
In order to settle the controversy begun by Jefferson once and for all, the North Carolina General Assembly adopts a report of a special commission promulgated by the Governor which upholds the authenticity of the Mecklenburg Declaration with sworn attestations from numerous eyewitnesses. Any controversy over whether the Convention of May 20th occurred, appears to have been settled.

MAY 20, 1861
North Carolina secedes from the Union and joins the Confederacy.

MAY 20, 1875
The Centennial celebration of the Mecklenburg Declaration in Charlotte draws 40,000 attendees during a period when Charlotte’s population is only 6,000, and is nationally covered by Harper’s Weekly.

MARCH 11, 1881
The General Assembly of North Carolina declared May 20th as a state holiday on March 11, 1881.

IN THE YEAR 1884
The Firemen’s Monument in Elmwood Cemetery, on 6th St. in Charlotte, was unveiled to the public.

MAY 20, 1898
A monument
to the signers of the Mecklenburg Declaration is established in a public ceremony; it now resides behind the old City Hall at 700 East Trade Street.