The Birthplace of Independence
Proud American citizens know our country would not be what it is today without the events of July 4, 1776. On this important day, the United States declared its independence from Great Britain. But the journey to get to that point was not an easy one. It all started one year earlier on April 19, 1775 with the start of the American Revolutionary War.
1775 was a brutal year for the American Revolutionary War. The Battle of Bunker Hill, the occupation of Montreal, the burning of Norfolk, and the Snow Campaign of South Carolina all took place during that year. Despite the fact that George Washington assumed command of the Continental Army, the situation did not improve at the start of 1776. For those reasons, the leaders of the colonies began to make even more impactful decisions.
Out of the thirteen original colonies involved in the American Revolutionary War, North Carolina was the first to take action towards ending the war and gaining independence from Great Britain. On April 12, 1776, North Carolina’s Fourth Provincial Congress made history in the little county of Halifax, North Carolina. All 83 delegates present at this meeting signed the Halifax Resolves document, which recommended independence from Great Britain.
In addition to recommending independence, the Halifax Resolves encouraged the other colonies to do the same. More specifically, this document was aimed at the colonial delegates that would be assembled at the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. Furthermore, it gave three specific delegates, John Hewes, William Hooper, and John Penn, the power to vote on behalf of North Carolina for independence at the Continental Congress, should a vote take place.
Unfortunately, a vote did not take place, but that does not diminish the impact of the Halifax Resolves. Following the signing of this document, the other colonies began to follow North Carolina’s example. Less than three months later, the United States officially declared its independence from Great Britain on July 4, 1776.
Learn About the History of Halifax As a Leader
Take A Historical Tour
In order to learn as much as possible about the impactful Halifax County, I highly recommend taking a historic tour. To begin the self-guided walking tour, I started at the Halifax State Historic Site. This attraction includes an informative visitor center and educational museum. At my first stop at the Halifax State Historic Site, I viewed the “Halifax: Hub of Roanoke” film, which explained so much of the county’s history in just 13 short minutes!
From there, I continued the self-guided walking tour to many other nearby historic buildings, including the 1790 Eagle Tavern, 1808 Sally-Billy Plantations House, 1833 Clerk of Court’s Office, 1838 Jail, and the Underground Railroad Trail. There is also a colonial cemetery, an African American cemetery, and a Roanoke River overlook all on the premises. By the end of my experience, I felt as if I had lived through all of the town of Halifax’s most important historical events.
If you have enough people in your group, you can also make a group tour reservation by contacting North Carolina Historic Sites in advance. These tours also include hands-on activities that are great for children.
Experience Halifax Day
To celebrate the signing of Halifax Resolves, the town of Halifax enjoys Halifax Day every year on April 12. It was actually a public holiday in all of North Carolina until the 1980’s.
Despite the fact that Halifax Day is no longer celebrated throughout the state, Halifax County still goes all out. When I attended this Halifax Day event at the Halifax State Historic Site, there were so many things to do that I was able to stay occupied for the entire day.
First, I attended a wreath-laying ceremony in honor of those who passed during the Revolutionary War. Then, I watched history take place before my eyes with a living history activity. By the time afternoon rolled around, I was ready to take a seat, so I listened to a captivating guest speaker. And last but not least, I took a tour of the Halifax State Historic Site at the end of the educational day.
All in all, I managed to learn loads of information while simultaneously staying entertained during this Halifax Day celebration.