19th century printed handbill of the text of the so-called “Mecklenburg (N.C.) Declaration of Independence,” including its four resolutions and the names of its 27 signers. The text is framed by a decorative Classical style border and features a central cartouche of an eagle over an image of two men in a boat. 10″ x 8″, mounted to a cardboard backing. Mounted beneath is a late 19th century newspaper clipping that reads –“We have been permitted to see an old paper, in the hands of Mrs. Mary Hadley Clare, of this city, great granddaughter of one of the Alexanders who signed it – the Mecklenberg Declaration of Independence. This copy, a printed handbill, is the property of Mrs. Cynthia Davidson Donoho of Hartsville, Tenn., who is a granddaughter of Dr. Ephraim Brevard, the Secretary of the Mecklenberg meeting. Mrs. Donoho is very old and she remembers this copy as a treasured thing at quite an early age. It contains the names of all the signers… This paper was evidently, judging fom the paper, execution and typography, and the coat of arms, printed at an early day after 1800. There was no printed copy in existence before that…” — The article goes on to explain the significance of the Meckenberg Declaration, said to be the first Declaration of Independence from England made in the thirteen colonies. Note: In 1819, a document called the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence was published, with the claim that it had been written on May 20, 1775 — more than a year before the U.S. Declaration of Independence was signed. But no earlier reference to that document has ever been found. Some historians believe the Mecklenburg Declaration is an inaccurate rendering of an authentic document known as the Mecklenburg Resolves (a set of resolutions passed on May 31, 1775, that fell short of an actual declaration of independence). Although published in newspapers in 1775, the text of the Mecklenburg Resolves was lost after the American Revolution and not rediscovered until 1838. Some historians believe the Mecklenburg Declaration was written in 1800 in an attempt to recreate the Mecklenburg Resolves from memory. According to this theory, the author of the Mecklenburg Declaration mistakenly believed that the Resolves had been a declaration of independence, so he recreated the Resolves with language borrowed from the United States Declaration of Independence. Defenders of the Mecklenburg Declaration have argued that both the Mecklenburg Declaration and the Mecklenburg Resolves are authentic. (Source: Learn NC (North Carolina Digital History, UNC-Chapel Hill). On various occasions throughout the 19th century, copies of the Mecklenburg Declaration were published in brochure or handbill form; this is believed to be one of those publications, probably circa 1830s. Additional provenance note: The newspaper article incorrectly states that Cynthia Donoho was the granddaughter of Dr. Ephraim Brevard; in fact, Cynthia Donoho, in whose family this piece descended, was Dr. Brevard’s neice. Condition: Discoloration, some faded areas and a small amount of foxing. Paper is glued to cardboard backing.
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