Author: Committee of Mecklenburg County
Source: Harvard Classics, Vol.43, p.166
On April 30, 1819, the Raleigh (North Carolina) Register published the following document, said to have been adopted by the Committee of Mecklenburg county, North Carolina, on May 20, 1775, the day after the receipt of the news of the battle of Lexington.
The similarity of some of its phrases to phrases in the Declaration of Independence raised questions as to plagiarism on Jefferson’s part, or, on the other hand, as to the authenticity of the Mecklenburg document. It is clear that Jefferson never heard of it before 1819; and the explanation most commonly adopted is, that it is a compilation, based in part on general recollections of certain resolutions, still extant, which were drawn up by the committee-men of Mecklenburg on May 31, 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 Country—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, 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 honor.
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, nevertheless, 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, viz. a Justice of the Peace, in the character of a ‘Committee-man,’ 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 organized government be established in this province.”