Patriots Turned Loyalist—The Experiences of Joseph Galloway and Isaac Low


February 21, 2018
by Richard J. Werther Also by this Author


Journal of the American Revolution is the leading source of knowledge about the American Revolution and Founding Era. We feature smart, groundbreaking research and well-written narratives from expert writers. Our work has been featured by the New York Times, TIME magazine, History Channel, Discovery Channel, Smithsonian, Mental Floss, NPR, and more. Journal of the American Revolution also produces annual hardcover volumes, a branded book series, and the podcast, Dispatches

In the American Revolution, as with most other wars, the winners write the history. As such, we have the term “loyalist” for those colonists who remained loyal to the crown, while the winners claimed the term “patriots.”

To give an idea how loyalists were regarded during the era, one definition I found said a loyalist was “a thing whose head is in England and its body in America and its neck ought to be stretched.”[1] In keeping with the winners’ history theme, the plight of loyalists has been given short shrift over the years, and it is their fate is to be regarded as having been on the “wrong side of history.” Indeed, most suffered greatly for what they believed, and most were ordinary colonists doing what they thought was right.

Yet two were of higher rank. They were delegates to the First Continental Congress and signers of the main output of that congress, the Continental Association, a non-importation pact targeted at Great Britain. The story of those two men, Joseph Galloway and Isaac Low, how they came to be in this position, what they went through because of it, and how things ended up for them (spoiler alert – not well), makes for an interesting, if sobering, tale.

Let’s begin by clarifying terms, specifically what we mean when we say “loyalist” or “patriot.”

If you asked a loyalist, they would likely say that they were the true patriots, standing with King and Parliament. In discussing when in the course of the Revolution people could correctly be labeled loyalists (I’ll get to that issue in a minute), the historian Ray Raphael observes “Most labels are either designated by enemies (the word ‘tories’ fits this category) or proclaimed triumphantly by the people themselves (‘patriots’) … I use ‘Patriot’ and ‘Loyalist’ myself because I need some such noun, but I choke on my words as I do so.”[2] The JAR editors asked a group of historians to give their opinions as to when in the course of the Revolution the “patriot” and “loyalist” labels can be applied. There was no clear consensus, but most said either at the start of military hostilities or the date of the Declaration of Independence.[3] Depending on which you subscribe to, some of the events I discuss may occur before those labels could be applied.

Galloway and Low were the only two of a total of 145 men who signed one or more (in this case one) of four major founding documents (The Continental Association, The Declaration of Independence, The Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution)[4] who became active loyalists. This makes them a distinct minority among the leadership of the era. This is not to say that there weren’t differing degrees of agreement with the patriot position among the signers, and some “leaners” who could have gone the other way. To be sure, there was a hard core of radicals, but others were spread across a continuum of degree of support for the cause. Other Association signers, such as James Duane, Edward Rutledge, John Jay and Richard Henry Lee, at various points in the debate teetered toward the side of reaching an accommodation with the British[5]. Even Benjamin Franklin, “The First American” as the H.W. Brands biography called him, was one of the last in on the radical cause, joining after his experiences late in his ten-plus year stay in England[6]. It’s safe to say that more than a few had a form of “buyer’s remorse” upon signing the Association.

Whatever second thoughts any of those signers may have had, these were presumably assuaged by the issuance a year later by the Olive Branch Petition issued by the Second Continental Congress. This last-ditch appeal contained separate communications addressed to the King and to the British people, attempting a belated reconciliation, though it offered little in the way of concessions or suggested remedies. This document was signed by thirty-eight of the fifty-one signers of the Association, including the entire delegations of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland and South Carolina. Luminaries such as Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, who hadn’t signed the Association, also signed on. Ironically, neither Galloway nor Low signed the Petition, both having declined to serve in the Second Congress. Regardless, this was too little, too late, and most everyone knew it. The King sure did; he refused to answer or even receive the Petition, declaring the colonies to be in rebellion.

Getting back to the stars of our story, Galloway and Low, a little biographical information is in order: Joseph Galloway, the far more prominent of the two, was a Pennsylvania delegate to the Continental Congress. He was born at West River, Anne Arundel County, Maryland, in 1731, moving to Pennsylvania in 1740. He went on to study law and, after his admittance to the bar, took up practice in Philadelphia. He also embarked on a political career, becoming a member of the Pennsylvania House in 1757 and the Speaker for that body in 1766.[7] Galloway also wed Grace Growden, a daughter of Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice Lawrence Growden, on October 18, 1753, and in the process married into a substantial fortune.[8]

Isaac Low was born four years after Galloway in Raritan Landing, New Jersey, and as with Galloway, he would go on to represent in Congress a state different than that of his birth. He moved to New York City where he became a merchant, land developer and speculator along with his brother Nicholas. He married Margaret Cuyler (some sources give her name as Margarita), whose mother was from the wealthy New York Schuyler family and whose father was mayor of Albany, New York, in 1760.[9] As a merchant, Low had concerns surrounding the increasing conflicts with Britain, and sought to do something about it by becoming involved in local politics. This led him through the labyrinth of New York City politics and into his role as a Congressional delegate from New York.

As a major player in Pennsylvania politics, Galloway’s path to the First Continental Congress was fairly straightforward: He was appointed by the Pennsylvania House in 1774. Low’s route was somewhat more circuitous. The New York City political scene had basically two factions – the conservatives, favoring negotiation with the British, and the radicals, resistant to reconciliation and generally siding with the mobs. Backroom political deal-making resulted in the formation of a committee of fifty-one, consisting of twenty-four radicals and twenty-seven conservatives, most of the latter representing mercantile interests[10]. Low, who fell into the conservative camp, became chairman. The committee proposed a congressional ticket of Low, James Duane, Philip Livingston, John Morris Scott and Alexander MacDougall. Having a slight edge numerically, the conservatives were able to maneuver John Alsop and John Jay onto the ticket in place of Scott and MacDougall, making it an all-conservative slate. The radicals had a choice of proposing a counter-ticket and taking their chances in the election or accepting the proposed nominees. They chose to make a deal, extracting from the conservatives a promise that they would “use their utmost endeavors to carry every measure into execution at the proposed congress, that may then be thought conducive to the general interests of the colonies; and, at present, are of opinion that a general non-importation agreement, faithfully observed, would prove the most efficient means to procure a redress of our grievances”[11].

Once this concession was made, the election became a formality; the five-man ticket was voted in. Yet even at that time, pre-Congress, Low’s loyalties were suspect. John Adams reported in a diary entry of August 22, 1774, “Mr. Low, the Chairman of the Committee of 51, they say will profess Attachment to the Cause of Liberty but his Sincerity is doubted.[12]

The Congress convened on Monday, September 5, 1774, to discuss how to address their situation vis a vis the mother country, given the stalemate in Boston. The first day the delegates of twelve colonies (Georgia, needing British help in conflicts with the Indians, sat this one out) were read into the record. A smattering of delegates arrived over the course of the next few weeks to complete the initial Congress. Overall, the body ended up with fifty-six members, five of whom did not sign the Association. All are noted in the minutes as having been “absent,” and only one, John DeHart, appeared to have a whiff of pro-British leanings. He later would sign the Olive Branch Petition, but this seemed to be the extent of it, and he escaped any loyalist labels. He wound up as mayor of Elizabeth, New Jersey, and died there in 1795.

Peyton Randolph of Virginia was elected president and Pennsylvanian Charles Thomson secretary. After establishing some of the procedural rules, the delegates grappled with a question that would be a precursor to later constitutional debates: How many votes does each colony get, one per colony or some sort of proportional voting? Ultimately they opted for one vote per colony.[13] A committee was then formed “to State the rights of the Colonies in general, the several instances in which these rights are violated or infringed, and the means most proper to be pursued for obtaining a restoration of them.”[14]

Thomson kept notes of the proceedings but much of the action, particularly as it concerned Galloway, was “off the books.” The accounts of Galloway himself as well as those of John Adams are the most informative descriptions of what occurred, providing the full span of the arguments as Galloway and Adams were polar opposites in their viewpoints. The two butted heads right away, with Galloway wanting the Congress to meet in the Pennsylvania State House and the radicals wanting to convene in Carpenter’s Hall. Adams won.[15]

The deliberations heated up on September 16 with the arrival from Boston of courier Paul Revere, carrying with him the Suffolk Resolves. This remonstrance to the King included a provision that “until our rights are fully restored to us, we will, to the utmost of our power, and we recommend the same to the other counties, to withhold all commercial intercourse with Great-Britain, Ireland, and the West-Indies, and abstain from the consumption of British merchandise and manufactures, and especially of East-Indies, and piece goods, with such additions, alterations, and exceptions only, as the General Congress of the colonies may agree to.”[16] This would be the impetus and the model for the non-importation agreement that became the Continental Association. For the time being, Congress unanimously resolved “That contributions from all the colonies for supplying the necessities, and alleviating the distresses of our brethren at Boston, ought to be continued, in such manner, and so long as their occasions may require.”[17]

Many regionally driven skirmishes followed as to what the start date would be for a non-importation resolution (for example, an early start would prevent shipment of much of the Virginia tobacco crop) and what commodities, if any, would be excluded. Different states had different ideas on this, according to what they produced.

On September 28, Galloway took the debate in a completely different direction. He was the high profile voice for reconciliation, but he was more than just talk – he had a plan, and one that would become the subject of much-heated debate and a not-so-small pamphlet war. Galloway’s “Plan of Union” became the first of a series of plans pitched by Galloway from both sides of the Atlantic, in an ultimately futile effort to keep the colonies part of the British Empire. The major components of the plan, which had its genesis in the Albany Plan of Union from back in the 1750s, were as follows:[18]

  • Appointment by the King of a President General for the North American colonies
  • Establishment of a Grand Council of Representatives, elected to three-year terms by each colonial assembly in proportion to population
  • Preservation of the structure of the existing colonial assemblies
  • The Grand Council would choose a Speaker with powers similar to those of Speakers in the British Parliament
  • Acts of the Council would require assent of the President General
  • The President General and Grand Council would be an inferior and distinct branch of the British Legislature

He concluded his proposal by saying “I propose this proposition. The plan,—two classes of laws. 1. Laws of internal policy. 2. Laws in which more than one Colony are concerned,—raising money for war. No one act can be done without the assent of Great Britain. No one without the assent of America. A British American Legislature.”[19]

As stated earlier, opinions in Congress ranged across the spectrum. Despite the heavy-handed influence of the radicals, a surprising number of delegates spoke up in favor to various degrees:

  • James Duane of New York – “As I mean to second this motion, I think myself bound to lay before the Congress my reasons. New York thought it necessary to have a Congress for the relief of Boston and Massachusetts, and to do more, to lay a plan for a lasting accommodation with Great Britain…. A civil war with America would involve a national bankruptcy.”
  • Richard Henry Lee of Virginia – “How did we go on for one hundred and sixty years before the year 1763? We flourished and grew. This plan would make such changes in the Legislature of the Colonies, that I could not agree to it without consulting my constituents.”
  • John Jay of New York – “I am led to adopt this plan. It is objected that this plan will alter our constitutions, and therefore cannot be adopted without consulting constituents. Does this plan give up any one liberty, or interfere with any one right?”
  • Edward Rutledge of South Carolina – “I came with an idea of getting a bill of rights and a plan of permanent relief. I think the plan may be freed from almost every objection. I think it almost a perfect plan.”[20]

Galloway’s thinking was locked into the concept that there must be one supreme body having sovereignty: “In every government, patriarchal, monarchial, aristocratical, or democratical, there must be a supreme legislature. I know of no American constitution; a Virginia constitution, a Pennsylvania constitution we have; we are totally independent of each other.”[21] Of course, the U.S. Constitution did not yet exist. If it did, its concept of shared sovereignty between the states and the federal government might have made Galloway’s head explode. The other assumption included in his plan, a non-starter for the radicals, was that the proposed American branch of the British government would be inferior to that of the mother country. The ever-outspoken Patrick Henry, for one, had “a horrid opinion of Galloway, Jay, and the Rutledges. Their system, he says, would ruin the cause of America. He is very impatient, to see such fellows, and not be at liberty to describe them in their true colors.”[22]

As far as Low’s actions in Congress, they were far less bombastic than those of Galloway, in keeping with his conservative character (as well as Galloway’s forceful one!) and his lack of political experience compared to Galloway. Adams’ recorded that Low knew, as did many of his fellow delegates, the radicals’ end goals, and stated that “We have too much reason, in this Congress, to suspect that independency is aimed at.”[23] Struggling to reconcile his loyalist inclinations with his wishes for the colonies, Low chose the path of caution, expressing two main concerns: First, he wanted to be sure the decision did not hem in the Congress as to future actions, saying “We ought to consider the consequences, possible as well as probable, of every resolution we take, and provide ourselves with a retreat or a resource.”[24] As a merchant, he was also acutely aware of the potentially severe impacts of a non-importation agreement: “Will, can the people bear a total interruption of the West India trade? Can they live without rum, sugar, and molasses? …. a prohibition of all exports to the West Indies will annihilate the fishery, because that cannot afford to lose the West India market, and this would throw a multitude of families in our fishing towns into the arms of famine.”[25] Yet he would eventually relent to a non-importation agreement, rationalizing it by assuming that the negative impacts could be mitigated if managed locally in New York.

Galloway’s plan was rejected by the Congress by a vote of six states to five. No record of how this vote broke down by state appears to exist (all record of its debate is stricken from the official records of congress), but the close margin is an indication that the colonies were a lot more divided than history may portray. Despite all that was said in the debates, the delegates, including Galloway and Low, agreed to the Continental Association. As Galloway would observe in his pamphlet A Candid Examination (speaking of himself in the third person): “The plan (his plan for reconciliation) read, and warmly seconded by several gentlemen of the first abilities, after a long debate, was so far approved as to be worthy of further consideration, and referred under a rule for that purpose, by a majority of the colonies. Under this promising aspect of things, and an expectation that the rule would have been regarded, or at least that something rational would take place to reconcile our unhappy differences, the member proposing it was weakly led to sign the non-importation agreement, although he had uniformly opposed it; but in this he was disappointed.—The measures of independence and sedition, were soon after preferred to those of harmony and liberty; and no arguments, however reasonable and just, could prevail on a majority of the colonies to desert them.”[26]

Galloway’s reward for his efforts was in a box he found on his doorstep one evening containing a noose, a torn insurance policy and a note advising him to “hang yourself, or we will do it for you,” no doubt courtesy of the Sons of Liberty. Message received, but Galloway was not so easily deterred. Though he wasn’t giving up, the rejection of his plan caused him much anguish and anger, which he vented in the pamphlet titled A candid examination of the mutual claims of Great-Britain, and the colonies. Despite its rejection by Congress, the Plan was transmitted to British authorities, through the Franklins: Benjamin Franklin (in England at the time) received a copy directly from Galloway and shared it with Lords Chatham and Camden[27], while his son William, the colonial Governor of New Jersey and future loyalist, also received a copy from Galloway and, unknown to Galloway, forwarded it to Lord Dartmouth.

Because of their stands, both Galloway and Low became marked men. In response, Galloway moved to Tory-leaning New York. Low was already there, but in 1776 he moved back to his place of birth in New Jersey. There, he was accused of treason and imprisoned by the New Jersey Convention, but he was released through the intervention of George Washington.[28] Both Galloway and Low would soon end up across the Atlantic, never to see their native country again.

While still stateside, Low served on committees tasked with enforcing the ban on British goods, even chairing one, but reportedly did so with ambivalence.[29] Suspicions as to his loyalties, always present, now abounded. When the Second Congress assembled in 1775, Low elected to stay home, pretty much closing the deal as to where he stood. This Congress of course would eventually issue the Declaration of Independence.

Similar to Low, Galloway removed himself from further service to Congress, excused by the Pennsylvania House from serving in the second Congress. He retired first to Trevose, his estate in Bucks County, and then, following his stay in New York, to Great Britain. He was, however. far from finished with his plan for keeping the empire together, pursuing it with missionary zeal as he moved from Pennsylvania to New York, joining the British Army there under Gen. William Howe in December 1776, and then later to England in 1778.[30] His enthusiasm for his cause was evinced in a torrent of pamphlets that he penned throughout this period. This list includes:[31]

  • A candid examination of the mutual claims of Great-Britain, and the colonies: with a plan of accomodation, on constitutional principles (New York: 1775).
  • Letters to a Nobleman on the Conduct of the War in the Middle Colonies. (London: 1779).
  • A Letter to the Right Hon. Lord Viscount H-e, On his Naval Conduct of the American War. (London: 1779).
  • Observations upon the Conduct of S-r W-m H-e at the White Plains, as related in the Gazette of Dec. the 30th, I776. (London: 1779).
  • The Examination of Joseph Galloway, Esq., late Speaker of the House of Assembly of Pennsylvania, Before the House of Commons, in a Committee on the American Papers. With explanatory Notes. (London: 1779).
  • An Account of the Conduct of the War in the Middle Colonies. Extracted from a late Author. Second edition. (London: 1780).
  • Historical and Political Reflections on the Rise and Progress of the American Rebellion. (London: I780).
  • Cool Thoughts on the Consequences to Great Britain of American Independence; on the Expense of Great Britain in the Settlement and Defense of the American Colonies; on the Value and Importance of the American Colonies and the West Indies to the British Empire. (London: 1780).
  • A Letter from Cicero to the Right Hon. Lord Viscount H-e: Occasioned by his late Speech in the H-e of C-ns. (London: 1781).
  • Fabricius; or, Letters to the People of Great Britain, on the Absurdity and Mischiefs of Defensive Operations Only in the American War, and on the Causes of the Failure in the Southern Operations (London: 1782).
  • Political Reflections on the Late Colonial Governments, in which their original Constitutional Defects are pointed out, and shewn to have naturally produced the Rebellion which has unfortunately terminated in the Dismemberment of the British Empire. By an American (London: I783).
  • Observations on the Fifth Article of the Treaty with America, and on the Necessity of appointing a Judicial Enquiry into the Merits and Losses of the American Loyalists (London: 1783).
  • The Claim of the American Loyalists Reviewed and Maintained upon incontrovertible Principles of Law and Justice. (London: 1788).

These publications often elicited responses from the men they targeted, which the combative Galloway naturally addressed in further pamphlets (not listed here), close to ten of them.

The man was nothing if not prolific. In addition to the Plan of Union presented in 1774, there were two plans in 1779, two more in 1780, one in 1785, and, for good measure, a final one in 1788.[32] Each one tweaked the variables a little (such as changing along the way from a unicameral to a bicameral legislature), but none could break through as the die for independence had long since been cast. Despite his dogged effort, or perhaps because of it, history has not judged Galloway kindly. The motives behind his crusade have been viewed as self-glorifying, and he was blamed by many in England for extending the war, both by keeping hope of reconciliation alive and via his criticism of military strategies. Said one colleague: “he began by being a flaming patriot, but being disgusted at his own want and influence, and the greater popularity of others, he turned Tory …”.[33] A Tory historian was quoted as saying Galloway sought reconciliation with Great Britain principally as a means to “immortalize him [self] as a statesman.”[34] The military criticisms, though on target more often than not, were not going to make him many friends among those intent on prosecuting the war, and did not seem to result in a more vigorous or successful war effort. One Member of Parliament grumbled that Galloway and the other loyalists “talked and acted like foolish gamesters whose passions bound them more strongly to persevere the more their losses galled them”[35]

Galloway sailed for the mother country in 1778 with his daughter; Low did so in 1783 with his wife (though accounts differ on his wife’s presence).[36] Both found themselves in a most unpleasant no-man’s land typical of the loyalist predicament: simultaneously vilified by their once fellow colonists and distrusted by those in their country of exile. This distrust was only increased by them having been members of Congress who voted for non-importation. When they crossed the ocean, they said goodbye to their homes, most of their possessions, and whatever friends they had left in the colonies. Low’s transition was eased somewhat by the presence of his son, Isaac, Jr., already in London. Galloway was preceded only by his notoriety.

The Treaty of Paris was supposed to provide relief for their losses, stipulating in Article V that “It is agreed that Congress shall earnestly recommend it to the legislatures of the respective states to provide for the restitution of all estates, rights, and properties, which have been confiscated belonging to real British subjects; and also of the estates, rights, and properties of persons resident in districts in the possession on his Majesty’s arms and who have not borne arms against the said United States”.[37] “Earnest recommendations to the legislatures” were hardly enough to overcome the bitterness against the loyalists, and as a result their claims languished. The British parliament established the Loyalist Claims Commission to compensate loyalists for their American losses, but even this did not make most loyalists anywhere near whole for their losses.

Low’s 1783 petition for restitution provides interesting insight into this process. In it, Low detailed his service to the crown in occupied New York and gave a list of prominent men who could vouch for him. He described losses in a 1778 fire that caused great destruction in the occupied city. He was forced to throw goods “into the open Streets to preserve them from the Flames” and the fire consumed “several Thousand Pounds Sterling value in Anatta” (a red dye) that had been stored near the customs house dock waiting to be shipped to London. He even cited none other than Joseph Galloway as a character reference.[38] While his claims were being adjudicated, the Commission awarded Low a temporary stipend of £140 per year, one he would sarcastically refer to as “handsome.” To substantiate his losses, he needed to obtain “certificates of sale for his confiscated estates,” a difficult feat for which he would require help from his brother Nicholas, still in New York and not considered a loyalist.[39] In the end, he was granted a dividend of £1,700 which, though a healthy amount, left him feeling “a ruined man” by the “palpable injustice” done to him. He protested the award, but to no avail. The fact that he had served in Congress had not helped his cause with the Commission.[40] Low, in poor health and an even worse state of mind, traveled to the Isle of Wight in an attempt to improve both, but it was not to be. He died there in 1791.

Galloway had much more to lose, and as one of the commissioners of the committee reviewing the losses of colonists exiled in England, had an opportunity to do something about it. When he fled to England with his daughter, he left his wife behind to manage the estate (a harsh decision for which his wife suffered greatly). The losses had started to accumulate while he was still in America. It was reported that his “home in Bucks County was stripped clean of everything moveable including windows and doors, after his wife joined him in Philadelphia during the occupation.”[41] A partial inventory of his losses indicates “Forfeited Estate of Jos. Galloway Esq. and Grace his Wife – 160 acres and 120 perches in Bensalem, Bucks Co. [located along the Delaware River]. Sold by George Wall, Agent, Aug. 23, 1779 at Newtown in Bucks County, to John Young Jun. for £6,580 – for the above Tract in Bensalem Township, Bucks County,” plus a long list of household items.[42] His wife Grace, left behind to fend for herself as were many loyalist wives, was eventually forcibly evicted from the house. From England, Galloway took steps to assist his wife in recovering their property, but was not successful. They would never reunite. She died, ill and despondent, in Philadelphia in 1782. Meanwhile, Galloway “After an investigation of his own conduct by the Loyalist Commission, … was granted a pension of £500 a year.”[43] Outliving his wife by over twenty years, he died in Watford, Hertfordshire, England, August 29, 1803. A writer to the end, his last book, published in 1802, was a propos for his end times and displayed his usual flair for snappy titles: Brief Commentaries Upon Such Parts Of The Revelation And Other Prophecies As Immediately Refer To The Present Times, Complete With The Prophetic, Or, Anticipated History Of The Church Of Rome. To Which Is Added A Pill For The Infidel And Athiest (Two Volumes).

So how do we judge Galloway and Low? If not among the last overall, they were certainly the last among the political leadership class not to convert to the patriot cause; the only two to serve in the Continental Congress and the only two who went as far as signing on to an act explicitly hostile to the empire. Both insisted that they had made amends for this through their subsequent actions, but the taint of it would not disappear during their time in England. Their situation encapsulated the loyalist dilemma: To whatever measure of good conscience they believed supporting the empire was the principled stand, they were overwhelmed by the tsunami called independence. If they were following their consciences, they certainly paid a steep price for doing so, one paid many times over by their less-heralded compatriots in the loyalist community.


[1] Ernest H. Baldwin, “Joseph Galloway, the Loyalist Politician (concluded),” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography. Volume XXVI, 1902, No.4, 427,, accessed October 1, 2017.

[2] “When Were They Patriots and Loyalists,” Journal of the American Revolution, October 4, 2013,, accessed October 22, 2017.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Richard Werther, “Analyzing the Founders: A Closer Look At The Signers Of Four Founding Documents,” Journal of the American Revolution, October 24, 2017,, accessed October 26, 2017.

[5] John Ferling, “Compromise or Conflict: The Rejection of the Galloway Alternative to Rebellion,” Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies, Vol. 43, No. 1 (January, 1976), 10,, accessed October 12, 2017.

[6] H.W. Brands, The First American, the Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin (New York: Doubleday, 2000), 524. This refers to Franklin’s third and final stay in England. The actual arrival and departure dates for his final stint were December 10, 1764, and March 20, 1775, respectively.

[7] Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774-2005 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office), 1098,, accessed October 21, 2017.

[8] Lorenzo Sabine, The American Loyalists (Boston: Charles Little and James Brown, 1848), 323.

[9] Robert Ernst, “Isaac Low and the American Revolution,New York History, Vol. 74, No. 2 (April, 1993), 134,, accessed October 5, 2017.

[10] Carl Becker, “The Nomination and Election of Delegates From New York to the First Continental Congress, 1774,” Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 18, No. 1 (Mar., 1903), 23., accessed October 2, 2017.

[11] Ibid, 40.

[12] Adams Diaries, Founders Online, National Archives,, accessed October 22, 2017.

[13] Journals of the First Continental Congress, 1774-1789, Library of Congress American Memory website, note on page 25. These journals include Thomson’s notes from the actual proceedings as well as explanatory comments and footnotes appended., accessed October 22, 2017.

[14] Ibid, 26.

[15] Ibid, 13.

[16] Ibid, 35.

[17] Ibid, 40.

[18] Julian P. Boyd, Joseph Galloway’s Plans to Preserve the British Empire, 1774-1778 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1941).

[19] John Adams, The Works of John Adams – Volume II, Charles Francis Adams, ed. (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1856).

[20] Ibid., 250.

[21] Ibid., 251.

[22] Ibid., 255.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Joseph Galloway, A Candid Examination of the Mutual Claims of Great-Britain, and The Colonies: With a Plan of Accommodation, Based on Constitutional Principles (New York: James Rivington, 1775), 51-52,;view=fulltext, accessed October 27, 2017.

[27] Benjamin Franklin to Joseph Galloway, February 25, 1775, Founders Online, National Archives,, accessed October 22, 2017.

[28] History, Art & Archives, United States House of Representatives,, accessed October 17, 2017.

[29] “1783 Petition of a Revolutionary War Loyalist,” The Library of Congress Online, Library of Congress Blog,, accessed October 22, 2017.

[30] Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774-2005.

[31] Moses Coit Tyler, The Literary History of the American Revolution, 1763-1783, 450-452, Making of America Books Online,;view=fulltext, accessed October 22, 2017.

[32] Boyd, Joseph Galloway’s Plans, Appendices I-V.

[33] Sabine, The American Loyalists, 314

[34] John Ferling, “Joseph Galloway: A Reassessment of the Motivations of a Pennsylvania Loyalist,” Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies, Vol. 39, No. 2 (April, 1972), 163, quoting William Nelson, The American Tory (Oxford, England: Claredon Press, 1961), 48,, accessed October 5, 2017.

[35] Maya Jasanoff, Liberty’s Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World (New York: Knopf Doubleday, 2011), 119. The original source is Parliamentary History, Volume 23, quoting the debates of February 17, 1783.

[36] Jasanoff, Liberty’s Exiles, 125 indicates Margaret travelled with Low to England in 1783, and includes some details as to her experience upon arrival in London, which would provide support for her having been along. Though the date of her death is not in that book, the accounts that have her going to England indicate she died there in 1820. Other accounts I read in researching her through genealogy records have her staying behind, like Galloway’s wife, and dying in Albany (where she was from) in 1802.

[37] Yale Law School, The Avalon Project – Documents in Law, History, and Diplomacy,, accessed October 23, 2017.

[38] “1783 Petition of a Revolutionary War Loyalist.”

[39] Jasanoff, Liberty’s Exiles, 134.

[40] Ibid., 137.

[41] Anne M. Ousterhout, Pennsylvania Land Confiscations During The Revolution,, accessed October 23, 2017.

[42] Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission,, accessed October 23, 2017.

[43] Baldwin, “Joseph Galloway, the Loyalist Politician (concluded),” 438.


  • Richard, thank you for a most interesting piece of research. Focusing on Galloway from an intelligence perspective, it seems apparent that he was always an “open” Tory in his public life. However, his detailed reporting of the actions and background noise of the Continental Congress until 1775 to General Howe was less well known. And of course his role as a police official in occupied Philadelphia further demonstrates his political loyalties.

    Seems to me he was an honorable man whose political loyalties remained stable even as he labored for compromise. One certainly can’t fault him for keeping Howe informed, and while he did so discreetly, he could not be consider a spy of any kind.

  • Ken,
    Thanks for the kind words. Galloway is really an interesting guy; I am currently finishing reading another book about him. I haven’t yet decided whether he was a tone-deaf egomaniac pursuing an impossible task with his own aggrandizement in mind (the man who saved the empire!) or a good man doing what he honestly believed was right. Leaning a bit toward the latter, where you are.

    I would put him in the same league with Thomas Hutchinson, though he probably wasn’t hated as much as Hutchinson. Both seemed not to comprehend how what they were doing was, rightly or wrongly, so out of step with the prevailing thought of their times. Looking at their thinking is definitely illuminating though.

  • I think a particular point left out in the characterization of Galloway is the fact that he rose to society status and was able to enter the world of politices due to his marriage to Grace Gowden Galloway. It was through her that the obtained such an elevated status. Her wealth and inheritance far outweighed his. To say that he left her to manage the estate while he fled and later attempted to assist her in recovering all that was lost is a disservice to the woman. She was defiant, she was physically dragged from her home and fought tirelessly to separate her inheritance from her husband, relying on friends and legal professionals. Resolved to her own fate, she was determined to at the very least make sure that her daughter would not suffer the same fate. Eventually a Pennsylvania court ruled that only when Joseph died would her daughter be able to receive her family’s land. She wrote poetry and kept a detailed diary about her burdens and hardships. Most importantly, she wrote about the abandonment she experienced by her husband. Joseph Galloway may have earned the respect of fellow tories, but as a family man, I would say he failed.

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