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On May 19, 1775 a rider raced into Charlottetowne with news of the massacre of colonists by the British at the Battle of Concord and Lexington. Angered at this news and already burdened by the oppressive, unjust laws of King George III, tradition says that a band of local patriots met through the night and into May 20th to draft the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence (or MecDec). On May 31, they met again to draft a set of Resolves that outlined how they would self govern. These treasonous documents declared that the actions of the Crown were intolerable and that Charlottetowne and Mecklenburg County were no longer under British rule.
A young tavern owner, Captain James Jack, volunteered to take these powerful documents on the arduous journey to the Continental Congress. Knowing full well that if caught he would be immediately hung; he risked his livelihood, property, family and very life to transport these important documents. Slipping past British regulars and spying Tories, Jack arrived in Philadelphia, demanding Mecklenburg County's declaration of freedom be read into record. Just as Paul Revere's famous ride alerted patriots to the British landing in Boston, James Jack's ride helped kindle the embers of revolution in the Continental Congress.
Captain Jack has become a legendary figure in the annals of Charlotte-Mecklenburg history. He is a significant symbol of a community that has risked everything for the rights and protections that we take for granted today. This spirit is what the May 20th Society seeks to honor.
Captain Jack's ObituaryCaptain Jack's Stone Monument in the Washington Monument