Note Concerning the Reviewer
This review by Dr. Tony Zeiss, President of Central Piedmont Community College, is use here with the permission of the author of the book, Scott Syfert, a member of The Society of Independent Southern Historians.
When you read this seminal work, you will assume it was written by a seasoned, if not revered, author. You will be astonished to learn that this is Scott Syfert’s first book. It is brilliantly written with the careful research of a learned attorney who can cite and analyze both the affirmative and negative arguments of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence debate.
Syfert has produce a treasure of historical notes for those who love history and this book, I predict, will become recognized as the most important literary source for all future studies of this intriguing topic. The book represents a fine example for future history writers, a riveting piece of American history for all readers, and will contribute mightily to the body of knowledge regarding America’s great rebellion against the Crown of Great Britain.
This work has been well-planned with an easy-to-read chronological format peppered with many illuminating photographs. Syfert begins the book by framing the disagreements between those who believe the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence was made on May 20, 1775 and those who don’t. He expertly presents historical evidence for point-counter-point from both sides of the issue building the suspense of which side is correct until the very last page. In the process, he weaves in his own observations about the human side of those historic figures who weighed in on the controversy. Most North Carolinians, ever true to their colony, believed the declaration to be true while most Virginians, likewise true to theirs, believed the opposite. No colony could claim a greater position with the revolution than George Washington’s home colony.
The narrative is written in a style reminiscent of a good mystery novel. Once a reader begins, this book cannot be put down for any length of time. When John Adams’ letter to Thomas Jefferson convincingly accuses him of plagiarizing the Mecklenburg Declaration to write America’s declaration a year later, one thinks the controversy is about over. Yet, the reader quickly learns it has just begun, especially when Jefferson adroitly counters that the declaration is spurious and fictional. The dialogue about the Mecklenburg declaration among these early giants of our republic provides keen insight into their debating expertise, no doubt, during discussions about important provisions of the constitution.
I have been an eager student of the controversy for a decade or more, but I learned more from Syfert’s research and his insight into the eighteenth century psyche of our Colonial leaders than in my total research over that period of time. Fortunately, this book has an extensive index, a large bibliography, and chapter-by-chapter reference notes which will give researchers a huge leap forward in their work on this subject or related topics.
Scott Syfert has objectively and fairly presented this controversy in historic terms. It is difficult enough to write a scholarly piece supported by extensive research, but it is far more difficult to also entice, engage, and entertain the reader. Syfert has skillfully accomplished this task. By posing sagacious questions Syfert keeps us engaged, and his clear presentation of the major players in this curious, almost “who done it” story, keeps us entertained.
Syfert has a new career in historical writing if he wishes, but if he never pens another book, he has left an extraordinary legacy in this one.
This book is a must read for all who love American history and for all who have any interest in this country’s colonial roots. The First American Declaration of Independence? should be required reading for American history college students and it should be read by all North Carolinians, especially those from Mecklenburg County – even Virginians might find it to be illuminating.
Availability of this Book
This is a new book. Suggest you search for it on-line or consult your book store.