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David Fleming discusses the wild story of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence.
The Declaration of Independence.

This conversation originally aired May 15, 2023 and has been edited for timeliness.

Monday, May 20, is known as MecDec Day. If you're into local history — take a seat.

It's the story of a ragtag group of patriots who signed the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence and officially divorced themselves from England more than a year before the more famous declaration on July 4, 1776.

In 1819, John Adams was reading a newspaper in Massachusetts when he learned something that threatened to shake up his understanding of our country's founding.

The article in the Essex Register described the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. The document was purportedly signed on May 20, 1775, making the group of people who signed it the first to divorce themselves from England. It came months before the more famous Declaration of Independence. Even more, some suspect Thomas Jefferson plagiarized parts of the MecDec when he wrote that other declaration.

Several historians and former U.S. presidents believe the MecDec should be more thoroughly investigated, and that’s precisely what David Fleming set out to do in his book. In “Who's Your Founding Father?: One Man’s Epic Quest to Uncover the First, True Declaration of Independence,” Fleming explores cemeteries, a cast of characters and even a Dunkin’ to get at the truth.

On the next Charlotte Talks, guest host Erik Spanberg is joined by Fleming to discuss the book, what he learned and what he thinks the country should know about the MecDec.

GUESTS:

David Fleming, author of “Who's Your Founding Father?: One Man’s Epic Quest to Uncover the First, True Declaration of Independence”

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Gabe Altieri is a Senior Producer for Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins. Prior to joining WFAE in 2022, he worked for WSKG Public Media in Binghamton, New York.
Sarah Delia is a Senior Producer for Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins. Sarah joined the WFAE news team in 2014. An Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist, Sarah has lived and told stories from Maine, New York, Indiana, Alabama, Virginia and North Carolina. Sarah received her B.A. in English and Art history from James Madison University, where she began her broadcast career at college radio station WXJM. Sarah has interned and worked at NPR in Washington DC, interned and freelanced for WNYC, and attended the Salt Institute for Radio Documentary Studies.