Joseph Galloway, Illustration

Galloway's Plan of Union

September 28, 1774

Galloway's Plan of Union was presented to the First Continental Congress on September 28, 1774.

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Summary of Galloway’s Plan of Union

Galloway’s Plan of Union was a plan developed by Joseph Galloway that proposed a political union between the American Colonies and Great Britain. Galloway’s plan was similar to the one proposed in the Albany Plan of Union. Galloway’s plan proposed to give the Colonies the representation they wanted but fell short of giving them the power to reject measures from Parliament.

Quick Facts About Galloway’s Plan of Union

  • Galloway presented his resolution to Congress on September 28, 1774.
  • On October 20, 1774, the plan was rejected by Congress, by a vote of 6-5.
  • Galloway’s Plan, including the debate over it, was expunged from the record.
  • John Adams kept detailed notes from the debate that took place on September 28, which includes comments on the plan from John Jay, Edward Rutledge, Richard Henry Lee, and James Duane.
  • Galloway published his recollection of the debate in 1780 in a pamphlet called “Historical and Political Reflections on the Rise and Progress of the American Rebellion.”
Benjamin Franklin, Portrait, Duplessis
Galloway’s Plan of Union was similar to the Albany Plan of Union that Benjamin Franklin and others proposed during the Albany Congress. Image Source: Wikipedia.

Galloway’s Plan of Union

On September 28, 1774, Pennsylvania delegate Joseph Galloway submitted a resolution to the First Continental Congress called “A Plan of a Proposed Union Between Great Britain and the Colonies.” The plan was not very detailed and was more of a high-level outline.

The goal of the plan — which is known as “Galloway’s Plan of Union” — was to: Establish a political union between the American Colonies and Great Britain, based on the principles of “safety and freedom.”

The plan aimed to address the “grievances” of the Colonies that did not have representation in Parliament. It looked to establish a new political and economic structure between Great Britain and the American Colonies. 

Under Galloway’s plan — which was very similar to what Benjamin Franklin and others proposed in the Albany Plan of Union — a new American government would be created that had two parts:

  1. A “President General,” appointed by the King.
  2. A “Grand Council.” Each colony would have members on the Grand Council, which would be chosen by the legislature of each colony.

Each colony would keep its constitution and be responsible for regulating and governing its internal matters.

Galloway’s Resolution to Congress

“Resolved, That the Congress will apply to his majesty for a redress of grievances under which his faithful subjects in America labor; and assure him, that the colonies hold in abhorrence the idea of being considered independent communities on the British government, and most ardently desire the establishment of a political union, not only among themselves, but with the mother state, upon those principles of safety and freedom which are essential in the constitution of all free governments, and particularly that of the British legislature; and as the colonies from their local circumstances, cannot be represented in the Parliament of Great Britain, they will humbly propose to his majesty and his two houses of Parliament, the following plan, under which the strength of the whole empire may be drawn together on any emergency, the interest of both countries advanced, and the rights and liberties of America secured.”

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Facts about Galloway’s Resolution

  • The plan wanted to establish a political union between the Colonies and Great Britain.
  • The political union would be based on the “principles of safety and freedom” which Galloway said were “essential in the constitution of all free governments.”
  • The political union was needed because the Colonies did not have representation in Parliament.
  • A political union would “advance the rights and liberties of America” and strengthen “the whole empire.”

Galloway’s Plan of Union — Text and Facts

This section provides the full text of Galloway’s Plan of Union — contained in quotes — along with bullet points that make it easy to understand the key points of the plan.

“That a British and American legislature, for regulating the administration of the general affairs of America, be proposed and established in America, including all the said colonies; within, and under which government, each colony shall retain its present constitution, and powers of regulating and governing its own internal police, in all cases whatsoever.”

  • A legislature would be established in America to “administer general affairs.”
  • It would include members from all 13 Colonies.
  • Each colony would keep its constitution and be responsible for internal issues.

“That the said government be administered by a president general, to be appointed by the king, and a Grand Council, to be chosen by the representatives of the people of the several colonies, in their respective assemblies, once in every three years.”

  • The President General, appointed by the King, would be in charge of the government.
  • The government would include a Grand Council.
  • Representatives on the Grand Council would be chosen by their respective assemblies.
  • Elections would be held every three years.

“That the several assemblies shall choose members for the Grand Council in the following proportions:

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New Hampshire.
Massachusetts Bay.
Rhode Island.
Connecticut.
New York.
New Jersey.
Pennsylvania.
Delaware Counties.
Maryland.
Virginia.
North Carolina.
South Carolina.
Georgia.”

  • Galloway did not specify the breakdown of representation for each colony.

“Who shall meet at the city of _______________ for the first time, being called by the president general, as soon as conveniently may be after his appointment.”

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  • The Grand Council would meet as soon as possible, in a city that Galloway did not identify in his plan.

“That there shall be a new election of members for the Grand Council every three years; and on the death, removal, or resignation of any member, his place shall be supplied by a new choice, at the next sitting of assembly of the colony he represented.”

  • Elections for the Grand Council would be held to fill seats in the case of death, removal, or resignation.
  • The new member had to come from the same colony as the member that was being replaced. 
  • For example, if a representative from Massachusetts died, the Massachusetts legislature would elect a replacement. Virginia would not be able to elect a replacement.

“That the Grand Council shall meet once in every year, if they shall think it necessary, and oftener, if occasions shall require, at such time and place as they shall adjourn to, at the last preceding meeting, or as they shall be called to meet at, by the president general, on any emergency.”

  • The Grand Council would meet at least once a year.
  • The Grand Council could meet more if needed.
  • The President General could call for a meeting at any time.
  • The Grand Council would basically meet at the same time and place unless the President General changed the location.

“That the Grand Council shall have power to choose their speaker, and shall hold and exercise all the like rights, liberties and privileges, as are held and exercised by and in the House of Commons of Great Britain.”

  • The Grand Council would choose the Speaker for each session, not the President General.
  • The Grand Council would have the same “rights, liberties, and privileges” as the House of Commons.

“That the president general shall hold his office during the pleasure of the king, and his assent shall be requisite to all acts of the Grand Council, and it shall be his office and duty to cause them to be carried into execution.”

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  • The President General would hold the office as long as the King approved.
  • The President General had to approve all acts of the Grand Council.

“That the president general, by and with the advice and consent of the Grand Council, hold and exercise all the legislative rights, powers, and authorities, necessary for regulating and administering all the general police and affairs of the colonies, in which Great Britain and the colonies, or any of them, the colonies in general, or more than one colony, are in any manner concerned, as well civil and criminal as commercial.”

  • The President General would have the power to oversee issues identified by Great Britain or issues that affected more than one colony.

“That the said president general and the Grand Council, be an inferior and distinct branch of the British legislature, united and incorporated with it, for the aforesaid general purposes; and that any of the said general regulations may originate and be formed and digested, either in the Parliament of Great Britain, or in the said Grand Council, and being prepared, transmitted to the other for their approbation or dissent; and that the assent of both shall be requisite to the validity of all such general acts or statutes.”

  • Legislation aimed at the Colonies would have to be approved by Parliament and the American government.

“That in time of war, all bills for granting aid to the crown, prepared by the Grand Council, and approved by the president general, shall be valid and passed into a law, without the assent of the British Parliament.”

  • During the war, the American government could pass laws “granting aid to the crown” without the approval of Parliament.

The Outcome of Galloway’s Plan of Union

On September 17, before Galloway proposed his plan, Congress had endorsed the Suffolk Resolves, which called for organized political and military resistance to the Coercive Acts. The endorsement of the Resolves may have played a role in how Congress handled Galloway’s proposal.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Galloway’s Plan of Union

What was the significance of Galloway’s Plan of Union?

Galloway’s Plan of Union was important because it offered a safe, conservative approach to the Coercive Acts. It provided a way for the Colonies to maintain a relationship with Britain and gave colonists some form of representation in the government — however, the American legislature would have been inferior and weak.

What happened to Joseph Galloway?

Galloway remained in Congress and signed the Continental Association. However, he did not return to Congress and eventually became a Loyalist and sided with Great Britain.

Galloway’s Plan of Union Video

This video from Founder of the Day discussed Joseph Galloway.

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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Galloway's Plan of Union
  • Coverage September 28, 1774
  • Author
  • Keywords Galloway's Plan of Union, Joseph Galloway, First Continental Congress, Albany Plan of Union
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date October 1, 2022
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update September 23, 2022