North Carolina Unveils Redesigned ‘First in Freedom’ Standard-Issue License Plate

Published Thursday, July 2, 2015 at 11:37 am
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A sample of the redesigned North Carolina ‘First in Freedom’ license plate.

On this Fourth of July Week, North Carolina is unveiling a new state license plate that recognizes the state’s historic role in the creation of the United States. Beginning today, North Carolina motorists can choose a new “First in Freedom” standard state license plate for the first time since 1982. The “First in Freedom” plate joins the “First in Flight” plate, as the second standard-issue option for vehicle owners.

“North Carolina is a state of firsts and we continue to be a leader in innovation,” said Governor Pat McCrory. “What a great way to celebrate North Carolina’s rich history and the birth of our nation by offering drivers a chance to proudly display a plate that honors our contribution to freedom, here in one of the most military friendly states.”

The phrase “First in Freedom” recognizes two “firsts” established by North Carolinians during the early stages of the American Revolution. The Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence and the Halifax Resolves have been noted throughout history as the first steps by one of the original 13 colonies to secede from Great Britain.

“As a veteran I’m proud to help issue the ‘First in Freedom’ plate, honoring this important value that many North Carolina servicemen and women continue to fight for and uphold everyday,” said NCDOT Secretary Tony Tata. “We look forward to seeing these plates displayed proudly on our state roadways soon.”

This new version was designed by Charles Robinson, a Troy, N.C. resident, historian and license plate collector. The plate features an amber quill pen, which symbolizes the signing of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence and the Halifax Resolves. The signing dates of these two events, May 20, 1775 (Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence) and April 12, 1776 (Halifax Resolves), are featured at the top center of the plate over the title letters, which display “First in Freedom.”

Robinson used the amber color as a key component of the quill pen as a tribute to the primary color of the classic state license plates of the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s. Those plates were manufactured in amber and black.

The original First in Freedom plate was unveiled Jan. 10, 1975, as part of a collaborative initiative between the North Carolina Department of Transportation and North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. The initial plate was established to promote recognition of the 200th anniversary of the nation’s independence.

To apply for your “First in Freedom” license plate at no additional charge, please request the plate at the time of your registration renewal. A standard charge will be due if you apply for the plate at non-renewal times.

Vehicle owners may visit the Division’s website to find the location of license plate agencies who can take orders for the plates.

To view all license plates available through the Division, please visit the specialty plates website.

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