Mecklenburg declaration of independence (1775)

Between the Battle of Lexington in April 1775 and the Declaration of Independence in July 1776, dozens of county assemblies and town meetings drafted their own ‘declarations of independence’. Thomas Jefferson was aware of these documents and utilised their ideas and expressions when drafting his July 1776 declaration. This motion for independence was passed by the representatives of Mecklenburg Country, North Carolina, in May 1775.

“1. Resolved: that whosoever directly or indirectly abetted, or in any way, form, or manner, countenanced the unchartered and dangerous invasion of our rights, as claimed by Great Britain, is an enemy to this County, to America and to the inherent and inalienable rights of man.

2. Resolved: that we the citizens of Mecklenburg County do hereby dissolve the political bands which have connected us to the Mother Country, and hereby absolve ourselves from all allegiance to the British Crown, and abjure all political connection, contract, or association, with that Nation, who have wantonly trampled on our rights and liberties, and inhumanly shed the innocent blood of American patriots at Lexington.

3. Resolved: that we do hereby declare ourselves a free and independent people [who] are, and of right ought to be, a sovereign and self-governing Association, under the control of no power other than that of our God and the general government of the Congress; to the maintenance of which independence, we solemnly pledge to each other, our mutual cooperation, our lives, our fortunes, and our most sacred honour.

4. Resolved: that as we now acknowledge the existence and control of no law or legal officer, civil or military, within this County, we do hereby ordain and adopt, as a rule of life, all, each and every of our former laws – where the Crown of Great Britain never can be considered as holding rights, privileges, immunities or authority therein.

5. Resolved: that it is also further decreed, that all, each and every military officer in this County is hereby reinstated to his former command and authority, he acting conformably to these regulations, and that every member present of this delegation shall henceforth be a civil officer, a Justice of the Peace, to issue process, hear and determine all matters of controversy, according to said adopted laws, and to preserve peace, and union, and harmony, in said County, and to use every exertion to spread the love of country and fire of freedom throughout America, until a more general and organised government be established in this province.”