John Harvey was a legislative leader in the colonial province of North Carolina and subsequently a leader in the creation of the revolutionary movement in the province.
From 1766 through 1769 and from 1773 through 1775, Harvey, a resident of Perquimans County, was The Speaker of the General Assembly (also known as the House of Commons).
While still serving as Speaker, Harvey served as moderator, or president, of the first and second North Carolina Provincial Congresses (1774 and 1775). The first congress, for which Harvey had distributed handbills urging people to elect delegates, was supposedly “the first popular assembly anywhere in America, called by the people and held in the presence of the king’s officers, in direct disobedience to British authority.” At the first congress, he represented Onslow County, while at the second, he was a delegate from Perquimans County, where he actually lived. He died sometime between April and August 1775.
During World War II, the Liberty Ship SS John Harvey was built, in his honor, at a shipyard in Wilmington, North Carolina.
After Josiah Quincy Jr. met with Cornelius Harnett in March of 1773 on the need for Committees of Correspondence, John Harvey was speaker of the Colonial Assembly. He and Cornelius Harnett, along with seven others were appointed to an nine-person Committee of Correspondence for North Carolina. The work of this committee led to the creation of the Provincial Congress in North Carolina and with other colonies led to the creation of the Continental Congress. [For more on the above, see introduction to the article “Provincial Congress” under the menu item “Organizations”].