Liberty in North Carolina - A History

by Joshua D. Glawson
LPNC Strategic Communications Adviser

If we, as the Libertarian Party of North Carolina, wish to see a return to liberty in North Carolina, it is a good idea to understand the historical and philosophical approaches to Liberty that have enabled that Liberty to thrive in the past. 

Liberty in North Carolina was an essential element of what made North Carolina unique at the founding of the United States of America. There are three specific North Carolina contributions to Liberty that should be given more consideration today in the state and across the United States of America. 

North Carolina provided constitutional protections for individual sovereignty and Liberty, freedom from nonrepresentative government overreach or tyranny, and the pursuit of sound money policies to safeguard those Liberties. 

John Locke and the North Carolina Constitution

The earliest models of North Carolina’s constitution were directly influenced by the work of philosopher John Locke. It was Locke's work titled Essay on the Human Understanding that led to The Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina, also known as the "Grand Model."

This colonial constitution aimed to protect proprietary interests and abandon pursuits of democratization. This first NC constitution was implemented from 1669 to 1698 and was adopted by the eight Lords Proprietors of the Province of Carolina. Technically, this constitution covered North and South Carolina, as the district colonies did not separate until 1712.

Unfortunately, this constitution led to temporary government-protected feudalism and aristocracy, as it was still paying some respects to the United Kingdom and King Charles I. Carolina is from the Latin name Carolus, which is the origin of the name Charles in English. 

However, this Carolina constitution also provided a voice for freemen in the colony's government and established greater property rights as protected by the state government. The early constitution even went as far as to provide greater religious freedom and provided secret voting ballots for freemen. 

The lessons learned from this constitution helped inspire further changes that inspired the Revolutionary War and American Independence.   

North Carolina was First in Freedom

North Carolina is widely considered among the first colonies to declare independence from British rule with the signing of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence (allegedly May 20, 1775), the Mecklenburg Resolves (May 31, 1775), and the Halifax Resolves (April 12, 1776). 

There is serious speculation that the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence was a hoax. Even Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Stephen B. Weeks, John Spencer Bassett, and R.D.W. Connor contended it was a fake. Nonetheless, John McKnitt Alexander, Macon Alexander, William Alexander, William Polk, Thomas Polk, and William Henry Hoyt defended its genuineness. Whether or not it was a real document, it was this genuine spirit of Liberty and independence that inspired the actual signing of other documents that led to the American Revolution including the Mecklenburg Resolves and the Halifax Resolves. 

The Mecklenburg Resolves rejected the authority of Parliament over the colonies while investing that power into the hands of the Provincial Congress. The Halifax Resolves voted for colony independence from the British. The signing of these documents directly led to American Independence. 

The North Carolina Gold Rush

Widely considered the first gold rush in history, the North Carolina Gold Rush lasted from 1799 to 1849. Beginning in 1799, a boy named Conrad Reed was fishing in Cabarrus County, which is northeast of Mecklenburg County, and found a 17-pound gold nugget that he used as a doorstop for a few years until he realized what this yellow rock was that he had found. This eventually led to the establishment of the famous Reed Gold Mine, and more and more gold was being discovered. 

In fact, all gold coins produced by the U.S. Mint from 1804 to 1828 were coined from gold found in North Carolina. This prompted the U.S. to open the Charlotte Mint which minted gold, silver, and copper coinage from 1837 to 1861. 

The fading of the North Carolina gold rush was driven by the California Gold Rush which lasted from around 1848 to 1855, and the fading of the California Gold Rush was brought about by the Australian Gold Rush from 1851 to 1914. 

The approach to making money from precious metals like gold or silver was well-established by the bimetallism supported by the Coinage Act of 1792, and this reflected the economic and monetary philosophy of sound money. 

Sound money made from a widely traded commodity such as gold and silver creates greater stability and purchasing power, reduces transaction costs, provides checks and balances against government overreach through monetary inflation or debasement schemes, and perpetuates honesty and other morals or ethics among people that use this medium of exchange. 

North Carolina helped spearhead the sound money movement in the United States by leading the way for gold mining and the use of gold in the coining money. 

Joshua D. Glawson is a writer and speaker in the Liberty Movement. He has been active with the Libertarian Party of California since 2015. He now resides in his home state of North Carolina. Check him out at Home - Joshua D. Glawson (

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