Independence Monument, Charlotte
Also known as the Mecklenburg Resolves Monument, this tall granite obelisk commemorates the signers of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. The obelisk sits atop a two-tier plinth resting on four steps. Bronze plaques are set in the four sides of the bottom plinth, and a single plaque rests on the front face of the top plinth.
Images: Historic postcard image of monument | Historic postcard image of courthouse and monument
May 20, 1898
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"Liberty to be Glorified," Fayetteville News and Observer (Fayetteville, NC), May 27, 1897, 1-2 Link
"Monument Erected to the Signers of the First American Declaration of Independence -- Charlotte, Mecklenburg Co. N.C., May 20th 1775" in Durwood Barbour Collection of North Carolina Postcards (P077), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, (accessed November 29, 2013) Link
"The Mecklenburg Monument," The News and Observer (Raleigh, NC), June 5, 1890 Link
Ashe, Samuel A., Weeks, Stephen Beauregard, and Alexander, John McKitt. "An important document, the original first draught of the Mecklenburg Declaration, recently brought to light; a copy in the possession of the North Carolina Historical Commission (1916)," ([Raleigh, N.C.: 1916]), (accessed February 19, 2013) Link
Mecklenburg Monument Association. "Unveiling of the Monument to the Signers of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence at Charlotte, N.C. May 20, 1898" (Charlotte, NC: Observer Printing and Publishing House, 1898).
Tompkins, Daniel Augustus. History of Mecklenburg County and the City of Charlotte : from 1740 to 1903. Charlotte, N.C.: Observer Print. House, 1903, (accessed November 29, 2013) Link
Mecklenburg Monument Association
The monument was erected and dedicated for the 123rd anniversary of the Mecklenburg Declaration in 1898. A massive crowd assembled for the dedication event that included a parade, speeches, music, and a supper. Dr. Robert J. Brevard was the the chief marshall, and Confederate veterans received a place of honor in the parade, with a group of veterans lead by Julian S. Carr. The Gastonia Continental Guards dressed in period uniforms, along with the Daughters of the Regiment, and the Charlotte Drum Corps appeared wearing red jackets and white trousers. Speeches were delivered from the grounds of the First Presbyterian Church near the courthouse. Orations were delivered by the Hon. Adlai E. Stevenson, chief orator, General J. H. Lane, F. B. McDowell (president of the Monument Association), and J. P. Caldwell, among others. The Mecklenburg Declaration was read by Captain A. F. Brevard of Lincoln County, and the monument was unveiled by a number children who were descendents of Revolutionary War patriots.
The monument is also known as the Mecklenburg Resolves Monument and the Monument to the Signers of the First American Declaration of Independence.
The existence of the Mecklenburg Declaration has been questioned. The Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence was reportedly signed on May 20, 1775, however the actual declaration has not been found and no additional strong documentary evidence is available surrounding the time of the event to corroborate its existence. Word of the battles at Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts had already made its way to Charlotte, and on May 31, 1775, a committee of citizens in Mecklenburg County, the Mecklenburg County Committee of Safety, drafted the resolutions of the Mecklenburg Resolves, most likely distinct from the alleged May 20 Declaration. The Resolves had the same intent as the alleged Declaration as a declaration of the suspension of English authority over the colonies. In 1838, a document reported to be the contents of the Mecklenburg Declaration was published.
The monument is located in front of the historic Mecklenburg County Courthouse on East Trade Street. It faces roughly north.
The monument sits in a paved stone plaza within the grounds of the courthouse. The plaza is surrounded by low manicured hedges, mature shade trees, and seasonal plantings.
The effort to erect a monument to the Mecklenburg Declaration began sometime around the early 1840s. In 1842 the North Carolina State Legislature approved the incorporation of the Mecklenburg Monument Association and fundraising began sometime around the May 20 anniversary that year. Subscriptions were reportedly begun with the initial contribution of a twenty dollar gold piece by Charlotte Judge Osborne. Fundraising continued, with renewed effort during the 1875 centennial; however, the sum of $5,000 that had been raised was apparently subsequently lost in the failure of the bank where the funds were held. The Monument Association reassembled in 1890 under F. B. McDowell.