I live in North Carolina (within Mecklenburg County to be more precise) and I’ve started seeing new license plates showing up celebrating the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence (May 20, 1775) and Halifax Resolves (April 12, 1776).
We in North Carolina already get a lot of heat from Ohioans claiming that we are stealing the credit for the Wright Brothers, since they’re native Buckeyes that simply came to NC to fly their famous flight. And I’m okay with that – it’s actually lots of fun to harass people from Ohio. 🙂 But my question is – are we (North Carolinians) thumbing our nose at the rest of the colonies with our latest license plate?
On May 15, 1776, Virginia’s ruling Convention adopted three resolutions: one saying it needed a declaration of rights, one saying it needed a written republican constitution, and one calling for federal and treaty relationships with whichever colonies and foreign countries wanted them. This date was long celebrated as the date of Virginia’s independence, which it was.
Although May 20 is my birthday, I conclude that North Carolina was second by five days. In fact, its declaration arguably wasn’t authoritative or permanent.
People in Connecticut, by the way, say that a guy from here was first in flight. I’m actually a Texan living in exile, so I don’t have a dog in this fight.
The reason it’s not usually counted the first declaration of independence is that the signatories stood only for that county, not for an entire colony, and the idea that a county was sovereign was not one of the Patriots’ popular ideas. In fact, I can’t think of anyone who said so.
So, again, VA was the first state to establish its independence.