Extract from “A History of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in America” - Rev W.M.Glasgow, M.D. (1888)

Posted at The Reformation/ Ulster Scots Index:

" The country was now thrown into the excitement and turmoil of the Revolutionary war, and every colonist who loved civil and religious liberty was called upon to defend his country and his rights. To a man the Covenanters were Whigs. An unsound Whig made a poor Covenanter, and a good Covenanter made a loyal Whig. The colonists declared themselves independent of Great Britain, July 4, 1776, at Philadelphia, and a five years’ war ensued. North and South the Covenanters went hand and heart into the struggle for independence. When the Rev. Alexander Craighead removed to North Carolina he was thoroughly imbued with the principles of the Covenanter Church, and disseminated them among the Scotch-Irish Presbyterians of that community. The consequence was the First Declaration of Independence was emitted by his followers in May, 1775, a year or more previous to the National Declaration. From reliable histories a few interesting facts are gleaned. Mr. Bancroft says: “The first public voice in America for dissolving all connection with Great Britain came not from the Puritans of New England, the Dutch of New York, nor the Planters of Virginia, but from the Scotch-Irish Presbyterians of the Carolinas.” He evidently refers to the influence of Rev. Alexander Craighead and the Mecklenberg Declaration; and this influence was due to the meeting of the Covenanters of Octorara, where in 1743, they denounced in a public manner the policy of George the Second, renewed the Covenants, and swore with uplifted swords that they would defend their lives and their property against all attack and confiscation, and their consciences should be kept free from the tyrannical burden of Episcopacy. Here was the fountain of Southern patriotism, and the Octorara meeting was the original germ of American independence which was transplanted in Charlotte and then in Philadelphia. More than this, Thomas Jefferson says in his autobiography, that when he was engaged in preparing the National Declaration that he and his colleagues searched everywhere for formulas, and that the printed proceedings of Octorara were before him, and he used freely the ideas in the Mecklenberg Declaration.* No doubt this accounts for the similarity of expressions in the two documents. Sometimes it does happen that the discoverer or the inventor does not enjoy the right which should be bestowed upon him A writer in the New York Review, reviewing the “Life of Thomas Jefferson,” by Tucker, clearly shows that the Preamble to the Bill of Rights, the Mecklenberg Declaration, and the Virginia Bill of Rights contain nearly everything of importance in the Declaration of Independence of July 4, 1776, upon which rests so much of Mr. Jefferson’s fame.† Of this latter instrument, and the Mecklenberg Declaration, Judge Tucker, says: (Vol. II., p. 627.) “Every one must be persuaded, at least all who have been minute observers of style, that one of these papers had borrowed from the other.” (See also the observations in the writings of Thomas Jefferson, by H. Lee, Philadelphia, 1839).
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