The Mecklenburg Declaration – The Celebrations

The anniversary of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence of May 20, 1775 has been celebrated locally, state wide, and even nationally through the years.  In Charlotte, 49 anniversary celebrations have been documented, including every year since 1995.  In times past children were let out of school for Meck Dec day and sometimes for the entire week.  Four sitting US Presidents and countless Governors, Senators and US Representatives have appeared at these celebrations.  The centennial celebration in 1875 brought 40,000 people on special trains to this town of 6,000 souls.

For more detail on the Meck Dec celebrations, see The Charlotte Mecklenburg Story at the Charlotte Library web site http://www.cmstory.org/meckdec

In 1995, under the leadership of Marion Redd, the MHA reestablished the tradition of celebrating the Meck Dec each year on its anniversary date of May 20.  This has continued to this day, with occasional deviations to move the celebration to a weekday when it would otherwise fall on the weekend.  In recent years, this celebration has been planned, funded and executed by The May 20th Society with the help of the MHA and the MHA Docents.  The May 20th Society was founded for this specific purpose and is extending its charter to begin to erect a number of bronze statues on the Little Sugar Creek Greenway near uptown Charlotte.  These bronzes will celebrate and illustrate Charlotte’s early history in a dramatic fashion.  For more information go to the May 20th Society web site at http://www.may20thsociety.org

These annual celebrations are always held on “the square” at the corner of Trade and Tryon Streets in uptown Charlotte at noon on May 20th.  They generally involve a number of political speeches and a reading of the Meck Dec, from the steps of a reproduction of the original Court House, by a reenactor.  Then there are a series of toasts – quoted from the 1825 celebration – accompanied by loud “Huzzahs” from the crowd and a volley of musket and cannon fire from the reenactors.  Finally, the entire crowd of MHA Docents, reenactors, dignitaries and the general public parades down the street the two blocks to Old Settler’s Cemetery to place a wreath on the grave of Thomas Polk, the founder of Charlotte.

James H. Williams
June 10, 2008