At the time the Fourth Continental Congress met in Halifax, North Carolina, Cornelius Harnett was President of the Provincial Council (by May 11, 1776 renamed the Council of Safety), and was, in effect, the defacto Governor or Chief Executive Officer of the state when the Congress was not in session. He drafted a resolution that was adopted on April 12, 1776 by the Provincial Congress. The resolution became known as the Halifax Resolves. It directed North Carolina delegates to the Continental Congress to vote for independence from the British Crown 1 . This resolution resulted in North Carolina being the first colony to give such instructions to its delegates to the Continental Congress to vote with others delegates and adopt the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, a declaration read by Harnett on August 1, 1776 at Halifax. (Connor, p. 170). The date for adoption of the Halifax Resolves, April 12, 1776, appears as the lower scroll on the North Carolina flag that was designed in March of 1885 2.
According to the NETSTATE web site, the date of May 20, 1775 on the upper scroll of the flag is a much questioned date for the “Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. 3 However the Mecklenburg Historical Association claims that Mecklenburg County was the first governmental body in America to declare independence from the Crown of England. 4
1. –Connor, R. D. W. CORNELIUS HARNETT: AN ESSAY IN NORTH CAROLINA HISTORY. Raleigh, N. C. : Edwards and Broughton Printing Company, 1909. 1-209. Print, (& Web, digitized after copyright expired by Google at http://books.google.com/. 120.
2. NETSTATE, North Carolina, The North Carolina State Flag, nd, web. 15 May 2011. http://www.netstate.com/states/symb/flags/nc_flag.htm
3. NETSTATE, supra
4. The Mecklenburg Historical Association. nd. Web. 15 May 2011. http://www.meckdec.org/