If you’re in uptown today and hear a little cannon fire, don’t be alarmed. You’ve just stumbled onto a unique Charlotte historical celebration: Meck Dec Day.
May 20th marks the 240th anniversary of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, which preceded the signing of the more famous Declaration of Independence by more than a year. (For the mathematically challenged among you, the Meck Dec was in 1775.)
The Mecklenburg Declaration was the first in all of the colonies to proclaim that people were “dissolving political bands which have connected us to the Mother country (Great Britain).”
The declaration was read publicly at noon on May 20 on the courthouse steps and was later carried by Militia Captain James Jack, by horseback, to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia.
(Read more about the declaration on the Mecklenburg Historical Association’s website.)
How we celebrate
The celebration takes place at the corner of Trade and Tryon Streets.
You’ll see 18th-century throwbacks start to gather around 11:30 a.m. and the official start time is 11:50 a.m.
Soldiers will march around with fife and drum. Members of the Mecklenburg Historical Association will hand out copies of the declaration.
May 20th Society’s celebration of Charlotte’s Independence Day (May 20, 1775) #meckdecday A photo posted by Wayfarer99 (@wayfarer99) on
There’ll be patriotic speeches and Colonel Thomas Polk himself*, the founder of Charlotte, will read the declaration, followed by a series of toasts.
*Played by Jim Williams from the Mecklenburg Historical Association.
In case you’re unsure of how to respond to a toast, here’s a cheat sheet: “Huzzah!” This is when the muskets and cannons will be fired.
Finally the celebrants will parade to Old Settlers’ Cemetery at Church and Fifth Streets to place a wreath on the grave of Thomas Polk.
C5’s Take: Thomas Jefferson was just jealous because he wasn’t first.
Other Meck Dec sightings
-The Charlotte Liberty Walk has a marker for the signing of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence.
-The Captain Jack Statue, part of the Trail of History, is on the Little Sugar Creek Greenway near uptown.
The Matheson Bridge Mural by William Puckett visually depicts the story of the Meck Dec. You’ll find it under the Matheson Street bridge over North Davidson Street.
Photos: T. Ortega Gaines/Charlotte Observer; Jody Mace; Mecklenburg Historical Association.