Reading Matters

Syfert’s ‘Meck Dec’ book lays out the facts

Is there any other TV host whose face rivals our own D.G. Martin’s for expressiveness?

Surprise. Delight. Dismay. Curiosity. Puzzlement. Skepticism. Those are but a few of the myriad changes that ride Martin’s boyish, cherubic face as he hosts N.C. Bookwatch most Sundays at noon on UNC-TV.

This Sunday, May 17, I can only guess that one of his expressions will be skepticism. Why? Because he’ll be interviewing Charlotte lawer Scott Syfert about the pros and cons of belief in the Mecklenburg Declaration, purported to be written one year before the American Declaration of Independence. And don’t forget: Martin is himself a lawyer.

Many North Carolinians have no idea why the May 20, 1775 date is fixed on our state flag and seal.

Scholars and lay people have been debating the issue for decades. Some do not believe in the declaration’s existence. And indeed, there is not an existing original copy of the document.

But since the recorded interview with Syfert, who wrote “The First American Declaration of Independence? The Disputed History of the Mecklenburg Declaration of May 20, 1775,” the author has turned up a piece of evidence that perhaps lends more credence to the existence of such a document.

An 1809 newspaper reprint of a valedictory address from the Sugar Creek Academy in Charlotte makes a specific reference to Mecklenburg’s Declaration. With this new information in hand, advocates for “Meck. Dec.” will have even more reason to celebrate the 240th anniversary of its adoption on May 20.

Syfert’s book lays out the facts, pro and con, and respectfully presents the opinions of both adherents and detractors so his readers can form their own conclusions about the “Meck Dec.”

The program will air again at 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 21.