Celebrating Meck Dec Day in Charlotte
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Fri 20 May 2022
It's that time of year again! In Uptown Charlotte, North Carolina May 20th is a day when you are likely to see cannons, horses and people in colonial costumes. If you're anywhere near Trade and Tryon Streets, it will be hard to miss the drama of the anniversary of the signing of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, which was executed during the year prior the signing of the U.S. Declaration of Independence.
Mecklenburg Declaration… "What is that?" was my question and likely yours, as well. Native Charlotteans, along with those of us who've chosen Charlotte as our home, look forward to an exciting annual celebration of the Declaration, known informally and locally as the "Meck Dec".
It was on May 20th that "Charlottetown" announced its independence from the rule of Great Britain. The announcement was made from the courthouse steps and was backed up by a document, known as the Mecklenburg Resolves. Let's just say that the people of Charlotte had "had it" with British rule!
Given the times, one might wonder "How was the nascent U.S. government notified of this bold undertaking?"
The story goes that tavern owner James Jack travelled on horseback to present the document to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia. As well, in the interest of legitimacy, he stopped along the way in Salisbury, North Carolina to read the document publicly in the district court. This was a "people's" uprising and very specific. This document declares independence precisely by and for Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.
How exciting! What happened when he got to Philadelphia? Not much. The document was less than well received. Apart from Mecklenburg County, the North Carolina delegates were still hoping for a reconciliation with England. A little underwhelming, to say the least.
And what happened to the original documents? It's unclear, but local lore says that the documents were destroyed in a fire. In 1819 U.S. Senator Nathaniel Macon presented a recreated document to the Raleigh Register.
Drama ensued – "Of course, drama ensued", you're thinking. The matter did not end there, it escalated. The story goes that John Adams accused Thomas Jefferson of plagiarizing the Mecklenburg documents, asserted that there were no Mecklenburg documents, that the whole thing was a hoax. This begs the question, "How would one plagiarize a document that didn't exist"? A little convoluted, it would seem.
But celebration-wise, let's not dwell on minor details. There's controversy about what really happened. We'll leave it at that. What's important is that the anniversary goes on.
Along with the Uptown (which, for the record, is called downtown in most cities) festivities in recognition of this event also occur at the Charlotte Museum of History, which I visited on Meck Dec Day.
Exploring the museum grounds, I was able to view a beautifully preserved stone house – the oldest in Mecklenburg County, dating to 1774. I was allowed access indoors and outside, also visiting the separate kitchen structure and kitchen garden.
The home and outbuildings on the site are indicative of a prosperous household of the era.
Colonial kitchens were typically separate from the home, primarily to prevent risk of fires.
Also remaining on the property is the simple but vitally important Spring House, which served as the source of clean water for the property.
During my visit, I met a charming re-enactor who shared with me a wealth of information about both the Meck Dec and the property, staying in character the whole time!
Special event or not, I would encourage visitors to explore the Charlotte Museum of History and its expansive 8 acres of verdant grounds, where you'll learn much and easily forget that you are in a modern city.
The Charlotte Museum of History is located at 300 Shamrock Drive in Charlotte, NC. Visit charlottemuseum.org or call 704-568-1774 for further information.
!date 20/05/2022 -- 20/05/2022
79449 - 2023-06-11 05:15:26