Golden Nuggets from U. S. History

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The Mecklenburg Resolves

[NOTE: Spelling in quoted material retained from original.]

North Carolinians did not wait for the Declaration of Independence. As the population advanced inland, settlers of the Piedmont felt a greater need for freedom from tyranny.

A document signed by committee clerk EPH. BREVARD, on May 31, 1775, of MECKLENBURG COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA said;

"This Day the Committee met, and passed the following."

Thus began the "Mecklenburg Resolves," commonly referred to as the "Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence." The document continues:

"Charlotte Town, Mecklenburg County, May 31 [1775.]

"This Day the Committee met, and passed the following

"RESOLVES:

"Whereas by an Address presented to his Majesty by both Houses of Parliament in February last, the American Colonies are declared to be in a State of actual Rebelion, we conceive that all Laws and Commissions confirmed by, or derived from the Authority of the King or Parliament, are annulled and vacated, and the former civil Constitution of these Colinies for the present wholly suspended. To provide in some Degree for the Exigencies of the County in the present alarming Period, we deem it proper and necessary to pass the following Resolves, viz."

With that opening salvo and a wave of the gauntlet, citizens of Mecklenburg County daringly swiped King George's cheek.

The "Resolves" contain no ambiguities. The long list of declarative statements clearly say that the people will no longer submit to the King nor Britain. The first point says it well:

"That all Commissions, civil and military, heretofore granted by the Crown, to be exercised in these Colonies, are null and void, and the Constitution of each particular Colony wholly suspended."

They were making a statement for America. To be certain that the King understood, the second "Resolve" says it another way:

"That the Provincial Congress of each Province, under the Direction of the Great Continental Congress, is invested with all legislative and executive Powers within their respective Provinces; and that no other Legislative or Executive does or can exist, at this time, in any of these Colonies."

Unlike the period following the passage of "The North Carolina Biennal Act" sixty years earlier, the citizens of Mecklenburg had no intentions of waiting to see the reactions from England. With the third point, they got down to business:

"As all former Laws are now suspended in this Province, and the Congress have not yet provided others, we judge it necessary, for the better Preservation of good Order, to form certain Rules and Regulations for the internal Government of this County, until Laws shall be provided for us by the Congress."

The list of "Resolves" which followed provided rules for elections, assemblies, appointments, handling of criminal matters, civil disputes, and public security. The commission indemnified public acts:

"That this Commission will sustain all Damages that may ever hereafter accrue to all or any of these Officers thus appointed, and thus acting, on Account of their Obedience and Conformity to these Resolves."

That was a much better deal than the signers of the Declaration of Independence received for their heroic acts thirteen months later (see "signers and their fates".)

The people of Mecklenburg had no lofty illusions as to the consequences of their action. In the last two points, they laid the groundwork for the inevitable results:

"That the several Militia Companies in this county do provide themselves with proper Arms and Accoutrements, and hold themselves in Readiness to execute the commands and Directions of the Provincial Congress, and of this committee."

"That this committee do appoint Colonel Thomas Polk, and Doctor Joseph Kennedy, to purchase 300 lb. of Powder, 600 lb. of Lead, and 1000 Flints, and deposit the same in some safe Place, hereafter to be appointed by the committee."

Colonel Thomas Polk was the brother of Ezekiel Polk, and Ezekiel was the grandfather of James K. Polk, a native of nearby Pineville who became the 11th President.

There are at least two towns in North Carolina named for members of the Polk family. Polkton in Anson County on U.S. Highway 74 between Monroe and Wadesboro and Polkville in Cleveland County, just north of Shelby at the intersection of N.C. Highways 10 and 226.

Polk County, west of Shelby at the intersection of U.S. Highway 74 and I-26, was formed in 1855 from parts of Rutherford and Henderson Counties and although it was founded 6 years after the Presidency and death of James K. Polk the County is named for Colonel Thomas Polk.

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