The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

Bookmark and Share

our fellow-citizens, every individual of whom has descended to the silent tomb;--but these are their living deeds of patriotism, which misfortune cannot now tarnish, and which the malignant breath of envy dare not now assail to blast."

        And now at the end of nearly three score years more, there are still some living who have conversed with the participants, and eye witnesses of the proceedings of this county convention, who smile at the suggestion that the old patriots, in recounting the adoption of the original county declaration of five resolves, might, possibly, have imagined it, and formulated in their old age in the sincere belief that it was a reproduction of a paper containing XX Resolves, with no allusion to the Battle of Lexington, but covering much more ground, and not signed by the delegates, but by the clerk, by order of the committee.

        The attention of the reader is called to the following language in this oration of Dr. Moses Winslow Alexander at Hopewell, July 5, 1824. One paragraph we quote:

        "A full copy of the whole proceedings was then made out and attested, and Captain James Jack, of Charlotte, was deputied as express to Congress, then sitting in Philadelphia, accompanying said proceedings with a letter addressed to Richard Caswell, Wm. Hooper, and Joseph Hewes, then our representatives from this Province--enjoining it on our said representatives to use all possible means to have said proceedings sanctioned and approved by the general Congress.

        On the return of Captain Jack, the delegation learned by a joint letter from said three representatives, that their proceedings were individually approved by the members of Congress, but that it was deemed premature to have them before the House; recommending perseverence, order, energy, etc.

        The Committee of Safety (mark you, not the Delegation) of which Abraham Alexander was chairman, held their regular and stated meetings alternately at Charlotte, at James Harris' and John Phifer's. This was a civil court founded on military process. Before this Judicature all suspicious persons were made to appear, who were formally tried, banished, or bound to good behavior. Its jurisdiction was unlimited as to Toryism, and its decrees as final as the confidence and patriotism of the country. Several were arrested and brought before them from Tryon, (now Lincoln,) Rowan, and the adjacent counties."

        The point that I make is this: the above is the conclusion of that part of the Doctor's speech which was in quotation marks, as published. He prefaced it with these words: "You will now permit me to read the proceedings of that meeting, as drawn up and certified by their clerk, and deposited in the safe keeping of General W. R. Davie, for the benefit of some future historian." Here then we have the "foregoing statement" (covering the transactions of the Delegation on two days, 19th and 20th) as to which the old secretary had certified that though fundamentally correct, it might not literally correspond with the record, but containing nevertheless the original Declaration, which, but shortly thereafter he assured Judge Cameron, he knew to be correct. Here, too, with-a microscope, I think we may find the mention of the three declarations, which have appeared to vex the historiographers. After detailing the transactions of May 19th, the statement proceeds thus:

        "May 20th, Delegation met. The select committee reported a formal Declaration of Independence (believed to be drawn by Dr. Ephraim, chairman of said committee) which was unanimously approved and signed; and which together with the foregoing resolves, was publicly read and proclaimed from the Court House door, by Colonel Thomas Polk, to a large and approving concourse of citizens, who had convened
Page 266 of 471
Index - Contents
Featured Books & CD-ROMS