In 2010, I submitted the concept for a book on the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence to a prominent university publisher. They responded that although they were “really intrigued,” they had reservations about the subject matter. “The history establishment of the state seems to be fairly solid in its skepticism of the MecDec,” was the response. They were reluctant to proceed “given the strongly held positions of the opposing sides.”
As their response indicated, even 237 years later the story of whether Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, made the first declaration of independence in the American colonies (known locally as the “MecDec”) continues to arouse strong passions. Most of the academic historical community dismisses the story as (at best) a myth or (at worse) a ridiculous hoax. The widely-held view is that the Mecklenburg Declaration is a fairy-tale, but an irritating one that refuses to go away. Even in Charlotte, where the story begins, raising the topic can elicit a visceral, negative response from many.