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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 ...
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 38 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 We can see no reasons why
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
politicks and wish I could retire to my former private Station (to speak in the language of J. Child) a pence & farthings Man ... P. S. The bearer W" Chew who is sent express is to receive from you Sixty Dollars which you must charge to North Carolina, if he does not find you at Edenton he is to have Six pence to Mile and All ferryages paid, for any distance — that he may go out of his way to find you after he gets to Edenton [.]”
Of importance, too, are the facts that it also has come to light since 40 the report of the General Assembly that there was attached to the “Davie copy” a certificate from
John M'Knitte Alexander and that this stated :“ 4 It may be worthy of notice here to observe that the foregoing statement though fundamentally correct, yet may not literally correspond with the original records of the transactions of said delegation and court of enquiry, as all those records and papers were burnt, with the house, on April 6th, 1800; but previous to that time of 1800, a full copy of said records, at the request of Doctor Hugh Williamson, then of New York, but formerly a representative in Congress from this State, was forwarded to him by Col. Wm. Polk in order that those early transactions might fill their proper place in a history of this State then writing by said Doctor Williams in New York. Certified to the best of my recollection and belief this 3d day of September, 1800, by J. McN. Alexander Mecklenburg County, N. C.”
On the other hand, it is zealously claimed that the resolves of the 20th were passed by a more or less popular assemblage (of which Alexander was clerk) and those of
the 31st by the regular Committee of the County“; or that those of the 31st were a revised set .
The passage in May, 1775, of even such resolutions as are given in The South-Carolina Gazette, etc., however, are greatly to the credit of Mecklenburg County; but they do not take from the fame of Jefferson.
It was not until Lexington and Concord — followed shortly by the death of Warren at Bunker Hill — that a declaration of independence became even a possibility.
Jefferson 14 writes, May 7th, to Dr. William Small: “This accident has cut off our last hope of reconciliation, and a phrenzy of revenge seems to have seized all ranks of people . . . This may perhaps be' intended to intimidate into acquiescence; but the effect has been most unfortunately otherwise.” 45
Samuel Adams, according to his biographer, came to the second Continental Congress (May 1oth) “[W] impressed with the necessity of an immediate declaration of independence.”
.” (Indeed, there is a note among the Bancroft papers in the New York Public Library, Lenox, which
“ Sam' Adams said to Rush: For seven years before the commencement of the war [i. e. from 1768] independence has been the first wish of my heart.")
Franklin , May 16th, sends a letter to London in which he says: “[X] The breach between the two countries is grown wider, and in danger of becoming irreparable"; and, on December 9th, he writes, to Charles W. F. Dumas : “[X] . we wish to know whether
if, as it seems likely to happen, we should be