Joseph Galloway

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Joseph Galloway was a leading politician in the coming of the American Revolution, starting as a leader of the patriot cause and ending a Loyalist.


In 1756, Galloway was elected to the Pennsylvania assembly, where he quickly played an important role as a member of the antiproprietary coalition. His rapid rise was facilitated by a strong family background, a strategic marriage, and ability.

Stamp Act

The Stamp Act of 1765 outraged Americans because it asserted parliament’s right to tax Americans without their consent. That violated the rights of colonists as Englishmen, and they protested vigorously. In Pennsylvania the Proprietary Party, fearful of loss of charter rights, instigated riots to discredit Benjamin Franklin's Quaker Party, which favored the Crown's taking over the colony. The Proprietary Party specialized in libel; the Assembly Party, politics. In the election of October 1765, the loss of seats by the Proprietary Party demonstrated that the electorate favored moderate resistance to the Stamp Act enforcement. Galloway played a conciliatory role and did not let the conflict get out of hand..


Although Galloway's conduct during the imperial crisis was motivated partly by opportunism, it was also inspired by genuine philosophical principles. A resident of cosmopolitan Philadelphia and an associate of Benjamin Franklin, Galloway was throughout his political career a British-American nationalist, believing that the British Empire offered a citizen greater liberties than any nation on earth. Galloway urged reform of the imperial administration and was critical of the trade laws, the Stamp Act, and the Townshend Acts. As early as 1765 he developed a conciliatory plan to end the disputes between London and the colonies.

Plan of Union

Galloway's "Plan of Union" was finally unveiled nearly a decade later. The First Continental Congress did not endorse the Galloway Plan of Union because Galloway was now an unequivocal Tory, and because the plan neither safeguarded the prerogatives of the assemblies nor provided guarantees against involvement in foreign wars. The belief that the situation demanded rapid and decisive action in defense of American rights also contributed to Galloway's failure to win approval of his plan.


During the war The British Army captured Philadelphia in 1777 and installed Galloway as superintendent general. His main role was commercial regulation to prevent the conveyance of "Necessaries to the Rebel Armies" and ending the misapplication of cargoes meant for the British forces. However, from the beginning, Galloway was more concerned with constitutional questions. A staunch Loyalist, he felt that constitutional union between America and the mother country could be achieved. When the British were forced to evacuate Philadelphia in 1778, Galloway and other Loyalists fled to England. He never returned.

Further reading

  • Ferling, John E. "Joseph Galloway: A Reassessment Of The Motivations of a Pennsylvania Loyalist." Pennsylvania History 1972 39(2): 163-186.
  • Ferling, John E. The Loyalist Mind: Joseph Galloway and the American Revolution (1977)
  • Newcomb, Benjamin H. Franklin and Galloway: A Political Partnership. (1972). 332 pp.