No grand conspiracy among magicians could match what nature has done on its own – render Charlotte’s history invisible.
People who look upon our sleek skyline and remark that the city seems to have erased everything architecturally monumental from its past don’t know the half of it. Most of our history is woven from vapors.
Take the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence and Mecklenburg Resolves from May 1775. Settlers were sore at the king and declared his authority null and void.
A tavern-keeper named James Jack hopped on his horse and carried the treasonous document to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, our schoolchildren are taught.
While the statue of Captain Jack aboard his horse on Little Sugar Creek Greenway is real, there’s not a shred of evidence to be found anywhere that the proclamations ever existed. No newspaper wrote about it, no copy of it has ever been found and no record of it exists in archives of the colonial Congress.
We still celebrate Meck Dec Day on May 20 anyway, though there are a suspicious few of us who wonder whether Jack was just getting on everyone’s nerves that spring, and an elaborate ruse was developed as a clever remedy to the problem.
More invisible history: If you want to get technical about it, Charlotte was the last capital of the Confederacy.
Jefferson Davis met for the last time with his Cabinet here, on Tryon Street, as the Yankee cavalry was closing in. I’ve always maintained that their deliberations here were focused on which dignitary deserved the fastest horse.
But you won’t hear anything about the peculiar distinction from the Charlotte Chamber or in any tourism pitch. Our role in The Great Unpleasantness is strictly hush-hush.
There are documents showing that Gov. Tryon signed Charlotte into creation on Dec. 3, 1768. Some enterprising settlers had decided the town be named for King George III’s wife in hopes of getting royal attention.
Another fail. King George III’s antics were well recorded, dilly-dilly, though there is not a shred of evidence that either he or his wife ever heard of this backwoods burg flailing for their attention.
Given the indiscernible nature of our historic milestones, it should come as no surprise that not a single ceremony, cocktail party, pub crawl, museum exhibition or soccer stadium groundbreaking is planned in 50 weeks to celebrate Charlotte’s sestercentennial (or 250th anniversary for those of you rusty on your Latin).
This, too, needs a clever remedy. And a parade.
Let’s get with it. Let’s cook something up. Let’s not imitate our imperceptible history and ignore it. Let’s party.
But just to be safe, nobody invite Captain Jack.
Mark Washburn: firstname.lastname@example.org.