After the French and Indian War France was no more crowding on the borders of the English colonies both to the West and to the North but instead, there was a vast wide openness available to the English and the Americans that had rarely been seen in history. This openness meant Britain now had to supply more troops, thus spending and raising more money to pay for troops to promote safety along the frontier.

The powers involved in the war were suffering from poor economics after a decisive war which directed the fate of the Americas. The colonists were being asked to pay for some of these costs as it was viewed that they were benefiting from the security but they were to receive no representation for the taxes with which they would pay. It was in these moments that the likes of Benjamin Franklin began to propose ideas for representation, particularly with his Albany Plan. The youth and like-minded individuals of varying degrees also stood watching these events develop, such as Joseph Galloway who would submit many Plans which would prevent or end war or reincorporate the colonies back into the British fold.

Joseph Galloway was born in Maryland in 1731 but moved to Pennsylvania when he was a young man. He grew into a rising law practice and married into money with Grace Growden who was the daughter of Lawrence Growden, a former Speaker of the Assembly.1 It wouldn’t take long for Galloway’s political aspirations to grow as he was elected to the Pennsylvania Assembly in 1756 as a member of the Quaker Party. Here he would find himself a permanent fixture for every term excepting one until 1775. Galloway would even gain leadership of the Pennsylvania Assembly in 1757 when Franklin went off to London.

But Galloway was entering politics during a tumultuous time not only for Pennsylvania, but for all the colonies. As James Madison later wrote, “The fundamental principle of the Revolution was, that the Colonies were coordinate members with each other and with Great Britan, of an empire united by a common executive sovereign, but not united by any common legislative sovereign. The legislative power was maintained to be as complete in each American Parliament, as in the British Parliament. And the royal prerogative was in force in each Colony by virtue of its acknowledging the King for its executive magistrate, as it was in Great Britain by virtue of a like acknowledgment there. A denial of these principles by Great Britain, and the assertion of them by America, produced the Revolution.”2 Britain’s failures to recognize the growth of the Americas and their natural independence shortly after their first landfalls had set the structure of individualism and self-governance. The British were obtuse in not recognizing these developments over the centuries.

Galloway was a Loyalist at heart. He never wanted to break with Britain and wanted various forms of cooperation between the colonies and Britain. Less than two years after he reached the Pennsylvania Assembly he called for more beneficial mercantile ordinances so Americans could export grain to nations who weren’t hostile to Britain. He would also call for opening trade with Spain for colonial merchants so they could “…enjoy the same right to trade to every port and place, where by treaty, the merchants in Britain may trade…”3 Even as a Loyalist, he was seeking some sort of equality, or at least, a raising up of position for Americans.

Galloway’s hopes for the future were naive. He believed in Britain and Empire and realized that cooperation with America was important to make this belief a more permanent reality. Galloway was hopeful to make this happen, writing about cooperation but making a clear-eyed observation in 1764, “There is no alternative between this measure [placing the military within the colonies] and a general union to assure us protection against the foreign invader. Such a union has been already rejected and such a one we shall now never enjoy. Our superiors think it convenient to keep us in another state.”4 But the state was immovable, having a stronger desire to bludgeon its own territory and shortening its life rather than granting the slightest bit of representation. This was the same year in which Galloway and Franklin both lost at the polls.

Through the 1760s Galloway had proposed to make Pennsylvania a royal Colony. This was opposed by others such as Dickenson who worried about British encroachment on the liberty the colony had. But Galloway saw a future of necessary give and take to hold on to the potential Empire between America and Britain with Britain at the head.

Pushing harder for equality, at least in trade, Galloway again appealed to the British. During the controversial Stamp Act, Galloway offered to be supportive if the British would reform imperial trade. But here is where he revealed more of his naivete with the British Empire when he said that colonists should, “Reveal to them [the Ministry] the poverty of our circumstances, and rectify the false representations which they have received of our wealth. Show them our incapacity to pay the impositions which they have laid upon us, without more freedom of commerce and a circulating medium to carry on that commerce. Tell them… we cannot give them what we have not… And tell them our incapacity to pay the debt already due to the British merchants; our inability to take off their future manufactures; and the impossibility of our contributing to the wealth, power, and glory of our mother country, unless she will relax her present measures, which so essentially affect her own as well as our welfare.”5 This isn’t something the British needed to be told. It wasn’t a misunderstanding. It was an order.

These crises and cooperation with Britain naturally harmed Galloway’s public image. Over time he was seen as more and more of a Loyalist in spite of his work and interactions with Benjamin Franklin. Franklin saw something in Galloway which few others had. Galloway, especially as the Revolutionary War became more of a reality, was quickly becoming a toxic politician. In order to be elected once more, in 1770 he moved out of Philadelphia and into Bucks County. He was unwelcome in Philadelphia and would only go to the Pennsylvania Assembly at their annual meetings.6

Galloway resurfaced in the political eye in 1774 when the Intolerable Acts were passed. He tried to calm the population against violence and said that there was still a possibility to create a “political union between the two countries…”7 Now that war, or at least violence was credible and mounting, Galloway began working on efforts to produce an agreement between Britain and the colonies to maintain the peace. Without such efforts and a compromise on both sides, he saw war as inevitable.

While Galloway was a Loyalist, he did have moments of clear-sightedness. He questioned how a government could ignore 3,000,000 people. Galloway had wanted both sides to take a brief rest before pressing further but if Galloway had sought to create a plan, it should have been passed much before 1774.

But still, Galloway was bleating a warning on behalf of Britain. In the same year he spoke, “In this Congress composed of the Representatives continually chosen, of all concern and who would of course act with weight and authority something might be produced, by their united wisdom, to ascertain our rights and establish a political union between the two countries with the assent of both, which would effectually secure to Americans their future rights and privileges. Anything short of this will leave the colonists in their present precarious state, disunited among themselves, unsettled in their rights, ignorant of their duties, and destitute of that connection with Great Britain which is indispensably necessary to the safety and happiness of both.”9 Galloway then called on the Pennsylvania delegates to adopt a plan to which both sides could agree.

After informing Governors William Franklin and Governor Colden, Galloway started from the previously rejected Albany Plan, using it as an architectural beginning. The basis of the plan which he didn’t entirely believe in but thought could be adopted included an American legislature, each colony retaining its current constitution, the colonies regulating their own police force, a president general (this request would show up in many of Galloway’s proposals) to which the King would appoint, a council which would have the same “rights liberties and privileges as are held and exercised” in the House of Commons of Great Britain, and that all laws with America had to be accepted and passed in both Britain and American legislatures,10 to name but a few.

Even though Galloway wasn’t always popular, he did gain some traction with the leaders in the Americas. Notably James Duane of New York seconded the proposal, John Jay spoke positively of the plan and Edward Rutledge called it an “almost a perfect plan.” But Benjamin Franklin was becoming more of an American by this point and stated, ” “When I consider the extreme Corruption prevalent among all Orders of Men in this old rotten State, and the glorious publick [sic] Virtue so predominant in our rising Country, I cannot but apprehend more Mischief than Benefit from a closer Union.”11 No matter how great a plan may be, it seemed doomed to fail on one side of the Atlantic or the other.

The Plan didn’t go anywhere. In fact, it had even been ordered to be “expunged from the minutes.” As a retaliation and to get his Plan of Union out, Galloway printed it up and sent it out as a pamphlet titled A Candid Examination of the Mutual Claims of Great Britain and the Colonies. While it reached a great deal of people and seemed to have some impact, it was also alleged that the Independent Party would go out and burn every copy they could find.12 The Loyalist was surrounded by just enough revolutionaries who’d been slighted for years by the crown as the Plan didn’t pass with six colonies voting against five.

The Plan had reached beyond British and American borders at this time. Notably the Marquis of Pombal, Portugal’s Prime Minister called for Britain and the colonies to agree to the Plan of Union. Although much of this had to do with Portugal’s precarious position. As they were essentially Britain’s only ally and Portugal’s oldest, a weak Britain meant Portugal could be more easily preyed upon. Furthermore, he added in a whisper that this agreement wouldn’t lower the king’s authority as he would still preside with great power over the colonies.13 But these remarks would go unheeded and Britain would be weakened by its stubbornness.

It is fair to say, as some historians have claimed, that Galloway was “blind to reality for thinking the Empire could preserved.”14 But there are also claims that Galloway was unlikable. After all, he had a damaged reputation, had to move out of Philadelphia years before in order to be elected and live in another district and his Loyalist reputation wasn’t a great addition to a growing revolutionary movement. While his enemies praised his cunning and design and his English contemporaries praised his integrity, he was also said to be “haughty.”15 And clearly, blind to a realistic solution of the time.

The Plan did have a chance of passing though, at least in the colonies. But there just wasn’t enough for some. Governor Franklin noted his objections due to the lack of an Upper House, “Your sentiments and mine are not different respecting the proper union with Great Britain, nor respecting the addition to my proposed plan. I thought of it at the time, but omitted it because I knew the plan would be less exceptionable to those democratic spirits to whom it was to be proposed and by whom it was to be adopted in the first instance, and because I thought it might be added in the negotiation. The great end I had in view in offering the plan I have often before told you was to prevail on the Congress to take the ground of negation and proposition.”16 But the more provisions which had been included, made it more likely to be resoundingly ripped apart in Britain.

Others seemed to naturally dislike Galloway. Patrick Henry had “a horrid Opinion” of Galloway and John Adams considered Galloway a master of “machiavilian [sic] Dissimulation” who pretended “to be a stanch Friend to Liberty.” Adams added, “A Tory here is the most despicable animal in the creation. Spiders, toads, snakes are their only proper emblems.”17 No matter what, Galloway’s name was going to be be a hard obstacle to pass; in the Americas he was considered a Loyalist and in Britain, simply an American like all the rest.

Through January 1775 he wrote Candid Examination and soon fell into ill health which encouraged him to begin his retirement from “the distressing and ungrateful drudgery of public life.”18 During these times he remained in his home until December 1776 as he was threatened with violence and insults. However, Benjamin Franklin continued to try to convince Joseph Galloway to join the independence effort. And there is some belief that Galloway considered this proposal even if it were due to his fears of physical violence.19 However, this attitude quickly changed once the British began to arrive in America and occupied New York.

The words of Adams seemed to come true after Galloway saw the British in New York. Galloway met with General Howe soon after and joined him within an advisor role. He accompanied Howe and wrote to Richard Jackson, “I am yet at New York endeavoring to be of service to those entrusted with the great work of reclaiming my countrymen from their delusion…”20 And in his role as advisor Galloway was with Howe when he captured Philadelphia in June 1777 and advised Howe to take the Delaware instead of the Chesapeake route. He made himself more useful by offering other services as well from preparing charts, gaining horses and sending out spies.21 While he did all these things, it is difficult to call Galloway a traitor as he was never part of the revolutionary cause. He was a firm Loyalist who believed Britain’s future of Empire lied only with the combination of the American colonies.

While in Philadelphia, Galloway was appointed as civil governor of the city and handled the municipal affairs. He returned to what he preached about and worked on regulating trade and markets.22 Galloway had chosen his side and there was no going back at this point.

Aside from these strides in civil affairs, he also worked more closely with the British army. He helped erect some batteries against Mud Island Fort which hastened its capture and he raised a disciplined troop of light horses. But when it was time for General Howe to leave Philadelphia, Howe told Galloway to make arrangements in September 1778. Galloway ensured his wife would be fine to look after the property while he took his daughter with him out of the city.23

Galloway’s disappointment grew. While he was in Philadelphia he noted to what he believed to be Howe’s incompetence. Especially since the British couldn’t defeat the “miscreant troop” at Valley Forge. His view of how Loyalist allies were treated had also soured his perception of the general.24 But Galloway had no choice. Now he had to go and on October 1778 he set sail from New York to England.

Galloway’s Plan for Union was based on the philosophy that he wanted Britain to remain strong and she couldn’t necessarily do this long term without holding onto the North American colonies. He wrote in 1793 that, “plan of union between the two countries… was founded on the liberty and safety of both. Its great principle was, that no law should bind America without her consent. I wished it might be made the basis of negotiation and peace, and declared, as many must recollect, that if the principle should not be granted by the British State, I would embark my life and fortune to obtain it… In the year 1777 {sic} on my arrival in London I exerted my utmost abilities with the Cabinet of this country to make peace with America and put an end to the horrors of war by passing an Act of Parliament declaratory that no laws should bind her but such as should be made by her own legislatures and upon that great and liberal principle to reform a constitution between the two Countries of liberty and mutual protection. Nor did my exertions cease until Sir Guy Carlton was sent over to negotiation a peace upon that ground.”25 Seeking to avoid war, he instead sought out a peaceful overlord.

He never gave up his idea of a united or reunited Britain. Even after the revolution had ended in the American favor, Galloway would offer other Plan of Unions to reuinte the two powers. But as the war dragged on and independence was eventually won and more time had passed, Galloway permitted the former colonies more power in his future plans up to the point where the governor-general would have almost unlimited power over the colonial governors, militia and laws.26 But in such plans, the Americans would be little more than puppets when they already had their freedoms. In total, Galloway made five attempts at creating Union.

The failures don’t lie completely with Galloway’s reputation or if people liked him. While this certainly had some affect, there were also fears from the colonies that accepting any deal may show weakness against the British and this weakness may embolden the British to further acts of war. The timing was simply wrong for such plans. It had been too late and it is unlikely Britain would have accepted anything unless it were already too late. And when it was too late, the Americans certainly weren’t interested, as the likes of Samuel Adams called the delegates to ” strongly recommend perseverance in a firm and temperate conduct.”27

After the war, Galloway worked to obtain indemnities for Loyalists. Furthermore, there was an investigation into him by the Loyalist Commission which granted him a pension of 500 pounds a year. Naturally he was no longer allowed to return to Pennsylvania and so he remained in Britain where he devoted his free time to religious studies and publishing a pamphlet which discussed the prophesies of the Scripture.28 This was Galloway’s new life.

While Galloway was naive at times and practical at others, his hopes were much like the later Henry Clay; that of compromise to avoid a costly and potentially irreconcilable division. Galloway referred to both Britain and America as “my country” and said that neither could ever be separated “upon any Principal of Policy of Good to either.”29 While he had worked against the Revolution, he still laid Britain at fault for her economic unfairness against the colonies and not defending the borders which failed to “relieve the distresses of our poor bleeding Frontier.”30 But he believed in Empire and in spite of Britain’s failings, firmly believed that she had to retain, and then obtain, superiority to make such events happen.

Joseph Galloway could be misguided but sought the best for his people and what he perceived to be his nation. Working to at first avoid war, then end the war and then at reconciliation with America as the junior partner for “his country” of Britain and America, the reunification efforts had become his life’s work. For all this work it was fruitless. However, the Albany Plan and Galloway’s Plan of Union no doubt inspired ideas and debate about how the American government should be constructed once it became time. In a way, Galloway’s plan had perhaps inspired Federalism within the colonies as war cast its shadow. Galloway was a man who had his firm beliefs and worked to make them a reality. And in these efforts for his country, he was exiled from his homeland and never allowed to return.


1 Joseph Galloway: A Reassessment of the Motivations of A Pennsylvania Loyalist p 164

2 Joseph Galloway’s Plans of Union for the British Empire, 1774-1788 p 494

3 Joseph Galloway: A Reassessment of the Motivations of A Pennsylvania Loyalist p 169

4 Joseph Galloway’s Plans of Union for the British Empire, 1774-1788 p 499

5 Joseph Galloway: A Reassessment of the Motivations of A Pennsylvania Loyalist p 176

6 Compromise or Conflict pp 6-7

7 ibid. p 7

8 ibid. p 8

9 Joseph Galloway’s Plans of Union for the British Empire, 1774-1788 p 500

10 ibid. pp 501-2

11 ibid. p 502

12 ibid. p 502

13 The Marquis of Pombal and the American Revolution p 369

14 Compromise or Conflict p 11

15 ibid. p 12

16 Joseph Galloway, the Loyalist Politician (Concluded) pp 420-1

17 Compromise or Conflict p 18

18 Joseph Galloway, the Loyalist Politician (Concluded) p 431

19 ibid. p 432

20 ibid. p 434

21 ibid. p 434

22 ibid. p 435

23 ibid. p 436

24 ibid. 436

25 Joseph Galloway’s Plans of Union for the British Empire, 1774-1788 pp 503-4

26 ibid. p 513

27 Compromise or Conflict p 14

28 Joseph Galloway, the Loyalist Politician (Concluded) p 438

29 Joseph Galloway: A Reassessment of the Motivations of A Pennsylvania Loyalist p 165

30 ibid. p 168

Works Cited

Alden, Dauril. “The Marquis of Pombal and the American Revolution.” The Americas 17, no. 4 (1961): 369–76.

Baldwin, Ernest H. “Joseph Galloway, the Loyalist Politician (Concluded).” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 26, no. 4 (1902): 417–42.

Boyd, Julian P. “Joseph Galloway’s Plans of Union for the British Empire, 1774-1788.” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 64, no. 4 (1940): 492–515.

Ferling, John E. “Joseph Galloway: A Reassessment of the Motivations of A Pennsylvania Loyalist..” Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies 39, no. 2 (1972): 163–86.

Ferling, John. Compromise or Conflict: The Rejection of the Galloway Alternative to Rebellion. Accessed April 27, 2023.