When Oklahoma state Rep. Dan Fisher (R) first introduced his bill to eliminate funding for AP U.S. History in Oklahoma, he included the Mecklenburg Declaration among documents of “historical significance” that students must read in American History class.
The document is not listed in the version of the bill approved by the Oklahoma House Common Education Committee on Monday, perhaps because historians dispute the document’s origins.
According to some, Mecklenburg County, N.C., declared its independence from Great Britain in a document signed in May 1775, a year before the Declaration of Independence was signed. The text of the Mecklenburg Declaration includes phrases found in the document penned by Thomas Jefferson.
However, Jefferson disputed the existence of the Mecklenburg Declaration, and the document has never been found.
Most historians do not believe that the document exists and argue that there’s no proof that it was written before the Declaration of Independence.
According to Scott Syfert, founder of May 20th Society, which commemorates the Mecklenburg Declaration, “the consensus view in academic circles has been that the story is, to use Jefferson’s word, ‘spurious.'”
But Syfert, as well as a few historians and writers, believe “the consensus view that the story is a hoax has begun to crumble.”
TPM has reached out to Fisher for comment on the document’s removal from the legislation.
Without the controversial Mecklenburg Declaration, Fisher’s bill still includes a long list of documents and speeches students must read.
As CNN noted, the bill requires documents typically taught in American history classes like the Thomas Paine’s “Commons Sense” and “The Gettysburg Address.”
But the bill also requires students to read the Ten Commandments, three speeches by Ronald Reagan, and one speech by George W. Bush. The bill does not include speeches from any of the last three Democratic presidents— Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, or Jimmy Carter.