Biography of Abraham Alexander
“Abraham Alexander”, the Chairman of the Mecklenburg Convention of the 19th and 20th of May, 1775, was born in 1718, and was an active and influential magistrate of the county before and after the Revolution, being generally the honored chairman of the Inferior Court. He was a member of the popular branch of the Assembly in 1774-’75, with Thomas Polk as an associate; also one of the fifteen trustees of Queen’s Museum, which institution, in 1777, was transformed into “Liberty Hall Academy.”
After the involuntary retreat of Josiah Martin, the royal Governor, in June, 1775, from the State, its government was vested in–1. A Provincial Council for the whole province. 2. A District Committee of Safety for each county, of not less than twenty-one persons, to be elected annually by the people of each county. The members of the Provincial Council for the Salisbury district were Samuel Spencer and Waightstill Avery. The members of the District Committee of Safety were John Brevard, Griffith Rutherford, Hezekiah Alexander, James Auld, Benjamin Patton, John Crawford, William Hill, John Hamilton, Robert Ewart, Charles Galloway, William Dent, Maxwell Chambers. The county committee, elected annually by the people in each county, executed such orders as they received from the Provincial Council, and made such rules and regulations as the internal condition of each county demanded. They met once in three months at the Court-house of their respective counties, to consult on public measures, to correspond with other committees, to disseminate important information, and thus performed the duties and requirements of courts. The county committees exercised these important functions until justices of the peace were appointed by the Legislature and duly commissioned by the Governor.
It was this committee which met in Charlotte on the 31st of May, 1775, and passed a series of rules and regulations for the internal government of the county–a necessary sequel, as previously stated, of the more important meeting of the 20th of May preceding. This statement is strongly corroborated by a communication published last summer in the “Charlotte Observer,” by D.A. Caldwell, Esq., one of Mecklenburg’s most aged, intelligent and worthy citizens. The portion of the communication most pertinent to our subject reads thus:
“I was born and raised in the house of my maternal grandfather, Major John Davidson, who was one of the signers of the Mecklenburg Declaration. I have often heard him speak of the 20th of May, 1775, as the day on which it was signed, and the 31st of the same month as the time of an adjourned meeting. The ’20th of May’ was a household word in the family. Moreover, I was present (and am now the only surviving witness of the transaction) when he gave a certificate of the above dates to Dr. Joseph McKnitt Alexander, whose father, John McKnitt Alexander, was also a signer, and the principal secretary of the meeting. This certificate was called forth by the celebrated attempt of Thomas Jefferson to throw discredit on the whole affair. A certificate to the same effect was given on that occasion by Samuel Wilson, a brother-in-law of Major Davidson, and a man of undoubted integrity. Mr. Wilson, although not a signer, was present at the signing on the 20th of May. I often heard my grandfather allude to the date in later years, when he lived with his daughter, Mrs. William Lee Davidson, whose husband was the son of General Davidson, who fell at Cowan’s Ford.”
Under the administration of Abraham Alexander as Chairman of the Committee of Safety, the laws passed by that body of vigilant observers of the common good were strictly enforced; and each citizen, when he left the county, was required to carry with him a certificate of his “political standing”, officially signed by the chairman.
Abraham Alexander was a most worthy, exemplary and influential member of society; was, for many years, a Ruling Elder of the Presbyterian Church, and lies buried in the graveyard of Sugar Creek Church. On his gravestone is this brief record:
“Abraham Alexander, Died on the 22nd of April, 1786, Aged 68 years.”
“‘Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his.'”