Mr. Craighead found in this attack upon him, one of the causes for leaving the confines of Pennsylvania, and in 1749 we find him*
* Foote's Sketches of North
Carolina, p. 189.
in Virginia, on Cowpasture river, joined to a settlement of farmers who came from Pennsylvania, a few years before. This was then on the frontier of the colony. The failure of Braddock's Expedition (1755) had laid the whole country open to the devastation of the Indians and French.
* Foote's Sketches of North Carolina, p. 189.
During the six years of his residence in Virginia, Mr. Craighead found little sympathy in his yearnings for civil and religious liberty; he became exceedingly restive under the tithings and other exactions of the Established Church, and in the autumn of 1755, we find him and most of his congregation seeking peace and liberty in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.
Henceforth, we can plainly see the influence of this "man of God," for the good of man. He received a call from the "Sugar Creek Church," three miles northeast of Charlotte on the road to Salisbury, and became its first pastor. He was installed in September, 1758, by Rev. Mr. Richardson, (his son-in-law, and the patron of that noble hero, General Wm. Richardson Davie,) in charge of this, which was the oldest church in the upper country. It was organized in 1756, and to a great measure became the parent of the seven churches so largely represented in the Convention of 1775 at Charlotte.*
* Foote.--In this charge he
was succeeded by the Rev. John Alexander, afterwards by Rev. Thomas Craighead,
but the latter only temporarily; next by his grandson, Rev. Samuel Craighead
Caldwell who was the beloved pastor of Hopewell and Sugar Creek Churches for
thirty-five years; then by Rev. Dr. Robert Hall Morrison.
* Foote.--In this charge he was succeeded by the Rev. John Alexander, afterwards by Rev. Thomas Craighead, but the latter only temporarily; next by his grandson, Rev. Samuel Craighead Caldwell who was the beloved pastor of Hopewell and Sugar Creek Churches for thirty-five years; then by Rev. Dr. Robert Hall Morrison.
Over twenty of the members of the Convention at Charlotte, who on May 20, 1775, pronounced the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, were connected with the seven Presbyterian churches of the county; two of which were Rocky River and Sugar Creek. From these two the other five took "life and being." Such were the men, who, when informed of the troubles "to the eastward," rallied to the cry: "The cause of Boston is the cause of all!" With Craighead they held that the rights of the people were as divine as the rights of Kings, for their fathers, and they themselves, had often listened in rapt attention to his thrilling eloquence, and felt as if himself were he on whose sole arm hung victory.
Abram Alexander, a ruling Elder of Sugar Creek Church, was chairman of this convention. It was addressed by Rev. Hezekiah James Balch, pastor of Rocky River and Poplar Tent, who was also one of the committee of three to draft the "more formal declaration," and nine other ruling elders, of these seven churches, were active participants in the proceedings. Although Mr. Craighead died before the convention of May 20, 1775, at Charlotte, yet the whole American Nation should revere his memory as the fearless champion of those principles of civil and religious freedom, which they now enjoy and which first found expression from his old comrades in the immortal Declaration, the true date of which, in the language of another, "has been as clearly established as the given name of any citizen then living in the county."
A writer in the New York Review, reviewing the "Life of Jefferson," by Tucker, clearly shows that the preamble to the Bill of Rights, the Mecklenburg Declaration and the Virginia Bill of Rights contain nearly everything of importance in the Declaration of Independence of July 4, 1776, upon which rests so much of Mr. Jefferson's fame. Of this latter instrument and the Mecklenburg Declaration, Judge Tucker says: (Vol. 2, p. 627) "Every one must be persuaded, at least all who have been minute observers of style, that one of these papers had borrowed from the other."
(See also the observations in the writings of Thomas Jefferson, by H. Lee, Philadelphia, 1839.)
The spirit which moved Craighead to the use of expressions frequent in documents prepared
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