[This blog post was written by Donna Kelly, Head of the Special Collections Section.]
A one-day special exhibit of documents from the State Archives will be displayed at Tryon Palace on Saturday, June 4, 2016. It focuses on North Carolina’s revolutionary politics and the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Among significant documents to be displayed are Josiah Martin’s speech denouncing the Second Provincial Congress, the General Assembly’s response, an excerpt from a Surry County committee of safety journal, and a letter delivering news of America’s newfound status as an independent state. Also included is a document signed by all three delegates, just over a month after they signed the Declaration of Independence.
Leading up to the American Revolution, tensions were growing between the British government and the American colonies. At a meeting of the Continental Congress in Philadelphia an economic boycott against Great Britain was instituted and local committees of safety were set up to enforce it. In North Carolina, Provincial Congresses were held despite their denunciation by the royal governor, Josiah Martin. He dissolved the General Assembly on April 8, 1775, hoping to quell growing resistance to British rule, but he was unsuccessful.
After the violence at Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts in April of 1775, and later the Patriot victory at Moore’s Creek Bridge in February of 1776, it became a foregone conclusion that any reconciliation between Great Britain and America was futile. As a result, the Halifax Resolves were adopted by the Fourth Provincial Congress on April 12, 1776, marking the first official action by a colony to declare independence. This date appears on the North Carolina state flag.
On July 2, 1776 the Continental Congress voted that the American colonies were independent states. On July 4, 1776 the Declaration of Independence was adopted. It was signed by William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, and John Penn, delegates from North Carolina.