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 on Joseph Galloway

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 Biography Sources

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