Galloway, Joseph (1731-1803)

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Joseph Galloway (1731-1803)


Pennsylvania loyalist

Career. Joseph Galloway was a born politician. By the 1760s he was perhaps the most powerful man in Pennsylvania after the proprietors, against whom Galloway made a direct attack. Though this failed, Galloway was speaker of the colonial assembly from 1766 to 1775, and in 1774 he was elected a member of the first Continental Congress. Galloway had too much faith that the disagreement between England and the colonies could be reconciled; in 1776 he broke with the patriot movement and joined British forces in New York. He returned to Philadelphia when British forces occupied the city, and he supervised the police and the port during the British occupation. When Philadelphia fell to the Patriots, Galloway fled with the British and lived the rest of his life in exile.

Background. Joseph Galloways father, Peter Galloway, was a wealthy Maryland merchant and farmer. A young boy when his father died, Joseph went to Philadelphia to be trained as a lawyer. By the 1750s he had acquired such a bright legal reputation that he was elected to the colonial assembly, and he married the daughter of the assemblys speaker, Lawrence Growden, one of Pennsylvanias wealthiest men. In the assembly Galloway joined with Benjamin Franklin and with the Quaker party in opposing the interests of the Penn family. With Franklin he pushed to have the Penn estates taxed, and he also called for Pennsylvania to become a royal colony, stripping the Penn family of their proprietary title. The assembly approved the bill, over the objections of John Dickinson, who did not defend the Penns but thought the British crown might not be the best protector of colonial liberty. The assemblys proposal was ignored in the midst of the Stamp Act controversy. Galloway and Franklin also proposed a bill to punish whites who murdered Indians, in the wake of the Paxton riots. The assembly killed the bill, and Galloway and Franklin were both defeated for reelection.

Quarrel with Dickinson. Galloway was not out of the assembly for long. He was reelected in 1765 and would serve as speaker for the next nine years. As the crisis with England worsened, Galloway became a voice of restraint. Though he was zealous in protecting Pennsylvanias liberties, he acknowledged Parliaments power to tax the colonies. He disagreed with John Dickinson, who argued in his Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania to the Inhabitants of the British Colonies (1767) that Parliament could not tax the colonies; Galloway insisted that Parliament had this power, but he believed colonial leaders such as himself could convince the British ministry not to exercise these powers. Dickinson became the more prominent leader in the growing Whig movement though when Pennsylvania chose delegates to a Continental Congress in 1774, Galloway made sure he, and not Dickinson, was sent.

First Continental Congress. Galloway believed that the growing rift with England could be mended if the colonies and mother country replaced the unwritten system under which they were governed with a written constitution. On 28 September 1774 he introduced into the Congress a Plan of Union, which would guarantee to the colonists the first and most excellent privileges of Englishmen, the right to representation in Parliament and to consent to the laws under which they lived. Galloways plan would have created an American legislature, chosen by the colonial assemblies for three-year terms. The king would appoint a president general to administer the colonies and execute the laws. No law would take effect for the colonies without the approval of both Parliament and the American legislature; in this way the American colonists could protect their rights, and Parliament could continue to reign supreme in the British empire. Though Galloway believed this system would preserve both colonial liberty and the British empire, it did not receive wide support. I stand here almost alone, he wrote to an English friend. By a vote of six states to five, Congress postponed consideration of Galloways plan, endorsing instead the more militant Suffolk Resolves, which denied Parliaments power to tax the colonies and called for a boycott of British goods. In October, Dickinson was elected to Pennsylvanias assembly; Galloway was removed as speaker; and Dickinson was chosen to represent Pennsylvania in the Congress.

Break with Congress. Congress voted to expunge Galloways plan from the journal, so he published it himself in 1775, chastising his readers and Congress for ignoring his correct analysis of Parliaments powers and colonial rights. I have... deduced your rights,... and explained your duties, he wrote, and Congress should follow the line of conduct he laid down. But by 1775 resistance to Parliamentary authority had grown; with it, the idea grew that it was not for men such as Galloway to instruct the people in their proper conduct or in the limits of their rights; it was for the people to instruct their elected officials in these things. Galloway became disenchanted with the new mood of the Whig movement; though he signed the nonimportation agreement, by 1776 he had broken with Congress and moved out of Philadelphia. He hoped he could remain neutral, but he also believed that only he could repair the breach and rescue the impetuous Americans from their instinct for independence.

Occupied Philadelphia. Galloway went to New York to offer his services to the British army, commanded by Gen. Sir William Howe. On 26 September 1777 Howes army occupied Philadelphia. Confident that Galloway could help restore order in the city and perhaps reconcile the second largest city in the empire to the British crown, Howe put Galloway in charge of policing the city, and of imports and exports. Galloways real task was to prevent goods from reaching Washingtons army and to suppress revolutionary activity. He hired spies and magistrates to root out disloyalty, but he also created an efficient and organized government for Philadelphia. Galloway believed that four out of every five Americans would prefer to remain loyal to the Crown if only they were given an effective government that could lead them to loyalty. He hoped that with an efficient system of government, Philadelphia could be a model for disaffected Americans of what they risked by rejecting British rule. Trade increased under his administration, and his troops prevented provisions from reaching Washingtons camp at Valley Forge. But General Howe would not give Galloway a free hand, rejecting Galloways proposal that British and loyalist forces kidnap New Jerseys governor and council. When the British decided abruptly to abandon Philadelphia in June 1778, they rejected Galloways request to negotiate directly with Washington. The British knew that most of their soldiers in New York were Americans; if the Philadelphia loyalists made a separate peace with Washington, New York also might be lost.

Exile. With his daughter, Galloway fled Philadelphia for England in 1778. He would never return. In London he became a spokesman for other American exiles, continuing to argue for reconciliation based on his constitutional plans. The peace treaty in 1783 was a bitter shock, and the victorious patriots siezed Galloways property in Pennsylvania. He became dependent on a British pension, and he argued that the British government, which had failed to heed the advice of Galloway and other Americans, and in ignoring them had lost their best chance to hold on to the colonies, should support the exiles. Some loyalists and British distrusted Galloway, who had early on supported the Whigs and been an ally of Franklin and Adams. He was rejected when he applied for a civil position in Nova Scotia, and in 1793 the Pennsylvania government rejected his petition to be allowed to return home. In his later years he wrote less about politics, more about religion. He died on 29 August 1803 and is buried in Watford, Hertfordshire.


Robert M. Calhoon, The Loyalists in Revolutionary America 17601781 (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanavich, 1965);

Mary Beth Norton, The British Americans: The Loyalist Exiles in England (Boston: Little, Brown, 1972);

Lorenzo Sabine, Biographical Sketches of Loyalists of the American Revolution, 2 volumes (Boston: Little, Brown, 1864).

Galloway, Joseph

views updated May 23 2018

Galloway, Joseph

GALLOWAY, JOSEPH. (1731–1803). Prominent Loyalist. Maryland. A leading Philadelphia lawyer and vice president of the American Philosophical Society (1769–1775), he was a close friend of Franklin, who left his papers and letter books with him for protection when he went to England in 1764. Galloway sat in the Pennsylvania assembly from 1757 to 1774 and was speaker from 1766 to 1774. Galloway was an able colonial politician, and he never failed to advance the interests of his province and his class, that of the aristocratic merchants. He was in favor of changing the colonial government from the proprietary to the royal form and was an active Tory in the early part of the war. While in the first Continental Congress in 1774, he wrote a Plan of a Proposed Union between Great Britain and the Colonies. It was first accepted but later rejected. Galloway refused to be a delegate for the second Congress in 1775. That year he wrote A Candid Examination of the Mutual Claims of Great Britain and the Colonies: With a Plan of Accommodation on Constitutional Principles, in which he castigated the Continental Congress. His essentially conservative stand coupled with a rather cold and unsympathetic nature made him extremely unpopular and, fearful of the Philadelphia mob, he retired to his country home, where Franklin tried unsuccessfully to change his Loyalist views.

Galloway joined Howe in the British advance through New Jersey in December 1776. Subsequently, he served with consummate skill as overlord of civil government in Philadelphia and southeastern Pennsylvania during the British occupation from the autumn of 1777 to the early summer of 1778. He withdrew with the British and the next year went to England, where he remained for the rest of his life. In 1779 he was examined by the House of Commons on the British conduct of the war, and he charged Lord Howe with incompetence. He also published pamphlets on this subject. He continued to explore the possibilities of a reconciliation of the colonies with the crown based on a written constitution and believed that America would be better off with a continued connection with the mother country. The Pennsylvania assembly in 1788 charged Galloway with high treason and ordered the sale of his estates. His petition to return in 1793 was rejected. He wrote a number of books and pamphlets, among them Letters to a Nobleman, on the Conduct of the War in the Middle Colonies, 1779 (1779), Historical and Political Reflections on the American Rebellion (1780), and Cool Thoughts on the Consequences to Great Britain of American Independence. (1780).

As an exile in London, he brought all of his vengeful pettiness to the campaign to saddle Sir William Howe with blame for the British failure to crush the Revolution. Galloway thereby help ensconce in power a North ministry increasingly dependent on a false appraisal of the conflict in North America.

SEE ALSO Galloway's Plan of Union.


Calhoon, Robert. The Loyalists in Revolutionary America, 1760–1781. New York, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1973.

Ferling, John E. The Loyalist Mind: Joseph Galloway and the American Revolution. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1977.

――――――. A Leap in the Dark : The Struggle to Create the American Republic. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

                        revised by Robert M. Calhoon

Joseph Galloway

views updated May 14 2018

Joseph Galloway

Joseph Galloway (ca. 1731-1803), colonial American politician and lawyer, became a prominent loyalist at the outbreak of the American Revolution.

Joseph Galloway was born in Maryland. When he inherited his father's property, he moved to Philadelphia, studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1749. He soon became one of the most prominent and wealthy lawyers in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. His marriage in 1753 to Grace Growden enhanced his social and financial position and gave him entrée to politics.

Elected in 1756 to the Pennsylvania Assembly, Galloway joined Benjamin Franklin's battle against the Penns' proprietary rule of the colony. When Franklin went to England to plead this cause, Galloway became spokesman of the "Popular party" (Philadelphia Quakers and their merchant allies).

Galloway was no democrat; his conservatism appeared in his public defense of the Stamp Act in 1765. Decrying the "spirit of disloyalty against the Crown" shown in the public riots after the Stamp Act, he proposed as alternatives a union of the Colonies and an American voice in the management of the empire.

As speaker of the Assembly from 1766 to 1774, Galloway tried to keep Pennsylvania out of colonial resistance to Parliament's imperial program. He was opposed by his bitter enemy, John Dickinson, spokesman of the Proprietary party. In 1774 both attended the First Continental Congress. Galloway introduced a sweeping plan to reorganize the empire that called for an American "Grand Council" elected by the colonial legislatures and possessing wide powers over intercolonial political affairs, a president general appointed by the Crown, and a mutual veto by Parliament and the Council over legislation passed by either affecting the Colonies. The plan was acceptable to many moderates. Had Galloway been more astute politically and secured Dickinson's support, it might have passed. Instead it was expunged from the official published proceedings of the Congress.

Embittered, Galloway declined to serve in the Second Congress and, fearing for his safety, fled to the British camp in New Brunswick. He returned to Philadelphia with Gen. William Howe's army in September 1777 and became civil governor of the city under British occupation. When Howe abandoned Philadelphia, Galloway sailed for England with him. His wife remained behind to save their property, but the Pennsylvania Assembly declared Galloway a traitor, confiscated his estate, and sequestered that of his wife. Galloway's petitions to return after the Revolution were denied, and he was never reunited with his wife.

In England, Galloway pled the loyalist cause for restitution from the Crown. His Historical and Political Reflections on the Rise and Progress of the American Rebellion (1780) provides a loyalist interpretation of the Revolution. He died on Aug. 29, 1803, a pensioner of the Crown and an object of scorn to his countrymen.

Further Reading

Oliver C. Kuntzleman, Joseph Galloway: Loyalist (1941), is an inadequate biography of Galloway. His politics is treated satisfactorily in Theodore G. Thayer, Pennsylvania Politics and the Growth of Democracy, 1740-1776 (1953). The Galloway-Dickinson rivalry is covered by David L. Jacobson, John Dickinson and the Revolution in Pennsylvania, 1764-1776 (1965). See also Julian P. Boyd, Anglo-American Union: Joseph Galloway's Plans to Preserve the British Empire, 1774-1788 (1941), and William H. Nelson, The American Tory (1962).

Additional Sources

Ferling, John E., The Loyalist mind: Joseph Galloway and the American Revolution, University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1977. □

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