University City

University City has a piece of history in the neighborhood

Tucked away near the intersection of Old Statesville and Eastfield roads is a small Mecklenburg County historical site.

The site, bordered by Old Statesville Road in front and backed by a dense forest, is a mostly natural and rustic area encompassing only a stone marker bearing a plaque, a picnic table and a bulletin board.

But despite its size and sparseness, the Alexandriana historical site is steeped in history and infamy.

On May 20, 1775, according to cmstory.org, a committee of 27 of the county's leaders drafted and signed the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. The citizens were from all parts of the county and included John McNitt Alexander, secretary of the committee. The historical site is located on Alexander's homestead.

One of the duties Alexander had to perform as secretary was to guard the document. Some historians believe the declaration was destroyed in a fire at John Alexander's home. The signers drafted a copy of the declaration from memory years after the fire, but no original copy exists, thus fueling debate the declaration never was drafted.

Through the years, Charlotte has celebrated what commonly has been called "Mec Dec" day to commemorate the May 20 signing of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, though the existence of the document still is questioned by historians, according to cmstory.org.

These celebrations, currently headed by the May 20th Society, have been attended by thousands. In 2010, the 235th annual Mec Dec day celebration included the unveiling of a statue of Capt. James Jack, who took the Mecklenburg Resolves (another document drafted by the citizens' committee and adopted May 31, 1775), and supposedly the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, by horseback to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia, according to may20thsociety.org. The statue currently stands on the Little Sugar Creek Greenway at Kings Drive and Morehead Street.

According to its website, The May 20th Society is a nonprofit organization "that endeavors to capture and celebrate Charlotte's rebellious and visionary spirit and history - a history that began on May 20, 1775, when two dozen prominent civic leaders signed and approved The Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence (Mec Dec) - the first Declaration of Independence in America."

Some of the group's board of advisors include Charlotte City Council member Edwin Peacock III, Mayor Anthony Foxx and prominent local business owners. The society provided historic information for the bulletin board at the Alexandriana historical site in the Davis Lake-Eastfield neighborhood.

Each year, the May 20th Society hosts a lecture series with a renowned historian and the Mec Dec day celebration to educate the public about the controversial document and the Revolutionary War. Andrew Roberts will speak this year at 5:30 p.m. May 19 at the Mint Museum Uptown.

This year's Mec Dec day commemoration will begin at 11:30 a.m. at the intersection of Trade and Tryon streets. The event is free to the public. For more information on Mec Dec day events, go to www.May20thsociety.org.

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