Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Mecklenburg Declaration - 1775

On May 19th, 1775,   a messenger arrived in Charlotte bearing news of the Battle of Lexington and Concord, which had taken place a month previous. That, in itself, is testament to the trials of living in the “good old days.” In this age of instant news, it is almost inconceivable.

The messenger arrived at a time in which Charlotte, and Governor Tryon of North Carolina, were involved in a separate dispute of their own with King George. That dispute concerned the use of the Queens name; which happened to be Charlotte.

There had been an agreement between the Governor and the King to allow the construction of a Presbyterian College, which would go on to become Queen’s College and is still in operation today. Apparently the King had a change of heart and withdrew his consent, angering many of the local; and for the most part; loyal citizens. They were, to say the least, primed for action. And the arrival of the messenger on the afternoon of May 19th gave them just the reason they needed to vent that anger.

The following afternoon, May 20th, 1775; over 1 year previous to the Declaration of Independence; the citizens of Charlotte produced what has become known as  the “Mecklenburg Declaration”, which declared complete independence from the King. This was one of the many reasons which gave rise to the nickname amongst the King’s court of Charlotte as a “hornet’s nest.”

Local artist William Puckett has spent the better part of the past year chronicling these events on the walls of the underpass for North Davidson Street at Matheson Avenue, just north of downtown; well, here they call it “uptown”; Charlotte. And what a wonderful job he has done!

In place of the graffiti which had previously lined these walls, there is now a beautiful and richly painted account of a major event in our local history. Saturday marked the official “unveiling” of the mural, which lines both sides of the underpass, which lead to the NoDa (North Davidson) area of the city. Previously blighted and crime ridden, the area has had a major renaissance in the 14 years Sue and I have lived here. It is where we go to listen to music, as well as to look at art.

The event was well planned, and included a few costumed “re-enactors”, who lent a colonial flavor to the day. I’m always grateful to those people who come out in period dress, including the woman who was clothed as a slave. It serves as a living reminder of who we are, and how we got here. It hasn’t been easy; and sometimes less than fun; but looking back gives hope for the future. It’s often said that “the only thing new is the history you don’t know”.  For more about this mural, and the artist himself, go to;

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