« ПредишнаНапред »
the Contrary I think it to be commended — for if those Resolutions were genuine they ought to be published in every Gazette in the World — If they are one of those tricks which our fashionable Men in England call hoax'es and boares — they ought to be printed in all American journals; exposed to public resentment and the Author of them hunted to his dark Cavern
To Bentley, under date of August 21st, he says: “[J] I thank you for the Raleigh Register and National Intelligencer. The plot thickens ... I was on social, friendly terms with Caswell, Hooper, and Hewes, every moment of their existence in Congress; with Hooper, a Bostonian, and a son of Harvard, intimate and familiar. Yet, from neither of the three did the slightest hint of these Mecklenburg resolutions ever escape
. I cannot believe that they were known to one member of Congress on the fourth of July, 1776 ... of Dr. Hugh Williamson ought to be searched for the copy sent to him, and the copy sent to General W. R. Davie. The Declaration of Independence made by Congress
is a document that ought not to be disgraced or trifled with.”
Discussion was now rife; and, on February 18, 1820, the Raleigh Register printed a number of affidavits and letters, introduced as follows: “ 28 When the Declaration was first published in April last, some doubts were expressed in the Eastern papers as to its authenticity, (none of the Histories of the Revolution having noticed the circumstance.) Col. William Polk, of this City, (who, though a mere youth at the time, was present at the meeting which made the Declaration, and whose
Father being Colonel of the County, appears to have acted a conspicuous part on the occasion,) observing this, assured us of the correctness of the facts generally, though he thought there were errors as to the name of the Secretary, &c. and said that he should probably be able to correct these, and throw some further light on the subject, by Enquiries amongst some of his old friends in Mecklenburg county. He has accordingly made Enquiries, and communicated to us ...
.. Documents as the result, which, we presume, will do away [with] all doubts on the subject.”
The matter was still further investigated, in 1831, under the direction of the General Assembly of the State and a report
30 made. These (the Raleigh Register of 1820 and the report of the General Assembly, embracing other affidavits) established, it would seem, many of the facts at issue certainly that, some time in May, 1775, certain resolutions of an advanced character were adopted in Mecklenburg County; that resolutions of an advanced character were publicly read by Thomas Polk and received with great joy ; and that, in June, James Jack set out with a copy of resolutions of an advanced character for Congress, that he stopped at Salisbury, where, at the request of the General Court, an attorney by the name of Kennon read the resolutions, and that Jack delivered a copy of the resolutions to Caswell and Hooper in Philadelphia.
Many claim that these established also that the resolutions in question expressly declared independence and that the date of their adoption was May 20th. With this, however, we cannot agree. Not only is
the wording itself of almost all of the affidavits very uncertain, but it is very apparent that none of the affiants was considering - and we might in any event question the power of any of them to recall — the exact wording of the resolutions adopted or the exact day in May on which adopted.
Under these circumstances, The South-Carolina Gazette; and Country Journal 31 of June 13, 1775, which has since come to light 32, is, we think, of the first importance. It contains :
83 CHARLOTTE-Town, MECKLENBURG County, May 31 34, 1775 This day the Committee of this county met, and passed the following
Resolves : WHEREAS by an Address presented to his Majesty by both Houses of Parliament, in February last, the American colonies are declared to be in a state of actual rebellion, we conceive, that all laws and commissions confirmed by, or derived from the authority of the King or Parliament, are annulled and vacated, and the former civil constitution of these colonies, for the present, wholly suspended. To provide, in some degree, for the exigencies of this county, in the present alarming period, we deem it proper and necessary to pass the following Resolves 35, viz:
1. That all commissions, civil and military, heretofore granted by the Crown, to be exercised in these colonies, are null and void, and the constitution of each particular colony wholly suspended.
II. That the Provincial Congress of each province, under the direction of the great Continental Congress, is invested with all legislative and executive powers within their respective provinces; and that no other legislative or executive power, does, or can exist, at this time, in any of these colonies.
III. As all former laws are now suspended in this province, and the Congress have not yet provided others, we judge it
necessary, for the preservation of good order, to form certain rules and regulations for the internal government of this county, until laws shall be provided for us by the Congress.
IV. That the inhabitants of this county do meet . . . and having formed themselves into nine companies do chuse a Colonel and other military officers, who shall hold and exercise their several powers by virtue of this choice, and independent of the Crown of Great-Britain, and former constitution of this province.
V. That for the better preservation of the peace and administration of justice, each of those companies do chuse from their own body, two discreet freeholders, who shall be empowered to decide and determine all matters of controversy
VI . . .36
XIV. That all these officers hold their commissions during the pleasure of their several constituents.
XVI. That whatever person shall hereafter receive a commission from the Crown, or attempt to exercise any such commission heretofore received, shall be deemed an enemy to his country
XVII. That any person refusing to yield obedience to the above Resolves, shall be considered equally criminal ...
XVIII. That these Resolves be in full force and virtue, until instructions from the Provincial Congress, regulating the jurisprudence of the province, shall provide otherwise, or the legislative body of Great-Britain, resign its unjust and arbitrary pretentions with respect to America.
XX. That the Committee appoint Colonel Thomas Polk, and Doctor Joseph Kenedy, to purchase 300 lb. of powder
Signed by order of the Committee,
This certainly should be considered, we think, adequate proof that the “Committee of this county” of Mecklenburg passed the resolves 88 there given on May 31, 1775; and the only question, therefore, we think, is, Were the resolves accredited (in 1819) to the “delegation” composed of “two persons ” from “each militia company” “in the county of Mecklenburg” and to the 20th of the same month also passed ?
We cannot but say that this seems to us very unlikely.39 We can see no reasons why the resolves attributed to the 20th, if in fact passed, should not have been the ones published in The South-Carolina Gazette, etc., rather than those of the 31st - - especially as some resolves are admitted to have been read publicly in « Charlotte-Town” and in the General Court and sent to the Delegates in Congress and as it would be but natural to make public in the press the more pronounced, admitting that there were two sets of resolves. Indeed, if we can credit at all the resolves given in The SouthCarolina Gazette, etc., the military companies would seem not to have been organized in Mecklenburg County until after the 31st and in accordance with these resolves.
Certain it is that Hewes, who is stated individually” to have “approved ” of the “proceedings” a copy of which was carried to Philadelphia by James Jack, writes, from Philadelphia, December ist, to Samuel Johnston (?): “[N] no plan of Seperation has been offered, the Colonies will never Agree to Any 'till drove to it by dire Necessity. I wish the time may not come too soon, I fear it will be the case if the British Ministry pursue their present diabolical Schemes, I am weary of