Olive Branch Petition Facts

July 8, 1775

Facts about the Olive Branch Petition, including dates, committee members. and more interesting details you might not know. This fact sheet provides a quick overview of the letter and is for kids doing research and students preparing for the AP U.S. History (APUSH) exam.

John Dickinson, Illustration

John Dickinson wrote the version of the Olive Branch Petition that was approved by Congress on July 8, 1775 (Image Source: New York Public Library).

The Debate Between Reconciliation and Independence

John Adams, Portrait, Stuart

John Adams was a leader of the faction in Congress that favored independence. Image Source: Wikipedia.

Olive Branch Petition Committee

  • On June 3, 1775, Congress formed a committee to draft a letter to King George III of England attempting to avoid war with Great Britain.
  • The members of the committee were Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Johnson, John Rutledge, John Jay, and William Livingston.
  • Two weeks later, on June 17, hostilities escalated with the Battle of Bunker Hill, the first true battle of the American Revolutionary War.

Writing the Olive Branch Petition

  • The committee’s letter was presented to Congress on June 24, 1775, but was not approved.
  • On July 6, 1775, Congress added Thomas Jefferson and John Dickinson to the committee and asked the members to draft a new letter.
  • Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft of the letter.
  • Some members believed that Jefferson’s draft was too harsh and would anger the King.
  • The committee charged John Dickinson with creating a send draft.

Thomas Jefferson, Painting, Rembrandt Peale

Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft of the Olive Branch Petition, which was rejected by the First Continental Congress. Image Source: Wikimedia.

Congress Approves Dickinson’s Version of the Olive Branch Petition

  • Dickinson’s more conciliatory version, known as the Olive Branch Petition was approved by Congress on July 8, 1775.
  • The Olive Branch Petition assured the king that the colonists wanted to remain loyal subjects, they were not seeking independence, and only wanted their grievances to be heard and addressed.
  • The Olive Branch Petition was signed by 48 members of Congress.

British Reaction to the Olive Branch Petition

  • On August 21, 1775, Richard Penn and Richard Lee attempted to deliver the Olive Branch Petition to King George III, through Lord Dartmouth, Secretary of State for the American Colonies.
  • The King refused to receive the Olive Branch Petition.
  • On August 23, 1775, the King a proclamation and declared the American colonies were in a state of “open and avowed rebellion.”
  • On November 7, 1775, the House of Commons defeated a motion to receive the Olive Branch Petition in a last attempt at reconciliation between Great Britain and the American colonies.

Impact of the Olive Branch Petition

The Olive Branch Petition was an important document because its rejection by King George and Parliament strengthened the influence and position of the men like John Adams and Samuel Adams who favored independence.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations, including APA Style, Chicago Style, and MLA Style.

  • Article Title Olive Branch Petition Facts
  • Date July 8, 1775
  • Author
  • Keywords Olive Branch Petition, Second Continental Congress
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date May 30, 2024
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update October 12, 2022