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Celebrating the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence: All About the Declaration

Signers' Biographies & Signatures

The Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence was supposedly signed by more than twenty-five prominent citizens of Mecklenburg County on May. 20, 1775. These signers came from all walks of life and had a great influence in Charlotte's early history. Find out a bit more about these significant individuals for yourself .

Abraham Alexander
Adam Alexander
Charles Alexander
Ezra Alexander
Hezekiah Alexander
John Alexander
Waightstill Avery
Hezekiah Balch
Richard Barry
Ephraim Brevard
John Davidson
Henry Downs
John Flennekin
John Foard
William Graham
James Harris
Richard Harris
Robert Irwin
William Kennon
Matthew McClure
Neill Morrison
Duncan Ochiltree
Benjamin Patton
John Phifer
Thomas Polk
John Queary
David Reese
Zaccheus Wilson
John McKnitt Alexander (1733 - 7/10/1817)

John McKnitt Alexander was one of the original signers of the Meckenburg Declaration of Independence.

He is probably one of the most famous signers. Born in Maryland, his came to Mecklenburg County with some siblings. His brother, Hezekiah, built a home that is reportedly one of the oldest homes in the county. When he arrived, he settled in the Hopewell section (north) of Mecklenburg County, before it was established in 1762. After arriving he left the occupation of tailor and became a surveyor. He acquired large tracts of land, many of which are now in other counties. His property may have been as large as ten miles square. He was a member of Hopewell Presbyterian Church and served as the treasurer for the Presbyterian Synod, which included what is now North and South Carolina.

When he was summoned to Salisbury to serve on a jury, he declined and was forced and fined by the sheriff to serve as a juror. When the British soldiers invaded Charlotte, he ordered his supplies be destroyed, rather than have them fall into the hands of the enemy. He served as Mecklenburg’s Register of Deeds from 1788 to 1792. After the Revolutionary War, he served as a member of the State Senate, the House of Commons and the convention that formed the North Carolina State Constitution.

He reportedly was the secretary of the convention where the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence was adopted. This duty made him the custodian of the original document. Richard Barry, Sr., a neighbor and fellow signer, was named an executor of his will. When John died, he was one of the largest landowners in the county.

Two of his daughters married Presbyterian ministers. He sent his oldest son, Joseph McKnitt, to get an education at what is now Princeton University.

King, Victor C. Lives and Times of the 27 Signers of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence of May 20, 1775. Charlotte, NC, 1956.

Signatures are provided from other historical documents of the era since the original Meck. Dec. document does not exist. (Courtesy of T. Crumbley)