Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Mecklenburg Declaration and Francis Cummings - 'the finest specimen of manly person in the crowd of fine-looking Scotch-Irishmen there'

A few weeks ago I posted here about the Fincastle Resolutions of 20 January 1775, said to be “… the earliest statement of armed resistance to the British Crown in the American Colonies …" which were writted by County Donegal-born Presbyterian Minister Rev Charles Cummings.

A few months after Fincastle, a similar but more famous Declaration was published at Mecklenburg in North Carolina, on 20 May 1775, and again among an overwhelmingly Ulster-Scots community. Present that day was a Rev Francis Cummings, who would later be a tutor to future President and son of Carrickfergus, Andrew Jackson, who, when the Mecklenburg Declaration was read aloud in Charlotte, North Carolina, was just a boy of 8 living 20 miles away at Waxhaw.

Here are two clippings from Sketches of Some of the Settlers of Upper Georgia, by George R Gilmer (1923).

Mecklenburg 2

Rev Francis Demaris Cummings sounds like the classic dashing hero. He was '...born near Shippenburg, Pennsylvania, in the spring of 1752. In his 19th year his parents moved to Mecklenburg County, and young Cummings exchanged his former life for the classic halls of the Queen's Museum in Charlotte, where he was an eye-witness of the Mecklenburg Convention of May, 1775, concerning which he furnished a certificate, and also gave some account in a published sermon. He graduated at Queen's Museum about 1776, and spent several years teaching. Among his pupils in Bethel, York County, South Carolina, was Andrew Jackson, afterwards President...'

His parents are thought to have been Charles and Rebecca (McNickle) Cummings.

Mecklenburg 1

A dramatic account of Cummings' preaching, dated 1802, can be found in Foote's Sketches of North Carolina, on p404. The ministers who preached at Spartanburg that day were called Kennedy, Williamson, Gilleland, Wilson, Simpson, M'Elhinney and of course Cummings. (link here)

Cummings died in Greensborough, Georgia, in 1831.