The Mecklenburg Declaration – The Celebrations

The anniversary of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence of May 20, 1775 has been celebrated locally, state wide, and 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 several 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 which had a population of only 6,000 people. Go to the May 20th Society website  for additional information about the Meck Dec celebrations from the 19th to the present.

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 holds an annual lecture series and bike ride to commemorate the event.

The May 20th Society extended its charter for the purpose of commemorating the Meck Dec through public art. In 2010 a bronze statue created by renown fine artis Chas Fagan, featuring Captain James Jack riding on his horse at full gallop, was unveiled at the Little Sugar Creek Greenway near Uptown Charlotte. It was the first of a series of bronze statues depicting Charlotte’s history known as The Trail of History (Charlotte)   . The Trail of History (Charlotte) organization has been chiefly responsible for this ongoing initiative.  These bronze statues celebrate Charlotte’s early history to the present in dramatic fashion.

These annual celebrations are generally held on “the square” at the corner of Trade and Tryon Streets in uptown Charlotte at noon on May 20th.  After a brief interruption due to the COVID pandemic in 2020, The Meck Dec celebration in Uptown Charlotte was interrupted in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic. The celebration resumed in 2021 at Victoria Yards (7th Street and Tryon Street) in Uptown Charlotte. The tradition of holding the Meck Dec celebration at Trade and Tryon Streets at noon resumes in May 2022.  These celebrations include a number of political speeches reflecting pride in Charlotte’s rich historical legacy, the presentation of a proclamation, a reading of the Meck Dec followed by cannon and musket firing salutes from 18th century reenactors that are accompanied by shouts of “Huzzahs” from the attending crowd.  Finally, a procession of an SAR honor guard marches to Settler’s Cemetery, fires a musket salute, and lays a wreath at the grave of Thomas Polk, the founder of Charlotte.

James H. Williams
June 10, 2008

Robert Ryals
Updated January 28, 2022