Donate! Support your community news.
Subscribe! News delivered to your inbox.

Davidson Author’s Epic Quest, and Beer

by | May 9, 2023


One Man’s Epic Quest to Uncover the First, True

Declaration of Independence


Perhaps you’ve heard of renowned historian David Fleming. No? Well, surely you’re familiar with the stirring document by which the colonists declared independence from Great Britain in… 1775? WHAT?

David Fleming

Alright. David Fleming is not a renowned historian, he’s a renowned sports journalist and budding historian. But the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence is very real. And through years of meticulous research—albeit, somewhat irreverently presented in the grand tradition of Sarah Vowell or Alexis Coe—Fleming has demonstrated that a small group of Princeton intellectuals and Scots-Irish patriots wrote the first, true Declaration of Independence in Charlotte, North Carolina, signed on May 20, 1775. In WHO’S YOUR FOUNDING FATHER? One Man’s Epic Quest to Uncover the First, True Declaration of Independence, he makes his case.


  • Learn why John Adams low-key accused Thomas Jefferson of plagiarism in 1819, and how Jefferson managed to deflect the charges until they both died several years later.

  • Understand the events that drove a group of Scots-Irish Patriots to say “enough” to King George III—at a time when even their own North Carolinian delegates in Philadelphia thought a declaration of independence would be “premature.”

  • Meet Captain John Jack, who has never received 1/100th of the glory of Paul Revere, even though he delivered the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence all the way from Charlotte to the Philadelphia Congressional Congress on horseback, risking his life (and never getting caught, by the way. Just sayin.’).

  • Understand why the cover-up happened and why so few people (outside of Charlotte, that is) know about the first Declaration of Independence today: Long story short, it involves Jefferson’s ego; a really bad house fire; reluctance to give the South credit for anything after the Civil War; a miscalculation by President Gerald Ford’s advance team; a theft from the British Royal Archives; and a few other twists of fate, not necessarily in that order.

When John Adams first came across the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence in 1819, he wrote to Jefferson that “the genuine sense of America at that moment was never so well expressed before, nor since.” Adams insisted that the matter be “thoroughly investigated” and the MecDec “more universally made known to the present and future generation.” Eleven U.S. Presidents and many of today’s most respected historical scholars agree.

In WHO’S YOUR FOUNDING FATHER? Fleming picks up where Adams left off, leaving no archive, no cemetery, no bizarre clue or wild character (and definitely no Dunkin’ Donuts) unexplored while traveling the globe to bring to life one of the most fantastic, important—and controversial—stories in American history.

About the author:
David Fleming is a senior writer at ESPN. During the last three decades at Sports Illustrated, ESPN The Magazine and ESPN he has been one of the industry’s most prolific, versatile, and imaginative long-form writers, traveling the globe while penning more than 35 cover stories and numerous groundbreaking pieces on everything from the Super Bowl and Steph Curry to the Musical Chairs World Championship and the NFL’s obsession with glutes. He is also the author of two books, Breaker Boys: The NFL’s Greatest Team and the Stolen 1925 Championship and Noah’s Rainbow: A Father’s Emotional Journey from the Death of his Son to the Birth of his Daughter. A native of Detroit, Fleming lives in North Carolina with his wife and daughters.


“In this hugely entertaining page-turner of a book, David Fleming proves beyond reasonable doubt that Thomas Jefferson plagiarized the Declaration of Independence, and then sought to cover it up. This is historical detective work at its best.”—Andrew Roberts, internationally renowned historian and New York Times bestselling author of books including The Last King of America, Churchill, and Napoleon.

Join author David Fleming at Lost Worlds Brewing (19700-D One Norman BLVD, Cornelius) on May 20th to learn more. Events begin at 12:30 p.m. and are scheduled throughout the day. 

Support Your Community News