Congress adopts Olive Branch Petition

Congress adopts Olive Branch Petition


We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

On July 5, 1775, the Continental Congress adopts the Olive Branch Petition, written by John Dickinson, which appeals directly to King George III and expresses hope for reconciliation between the colonies and Great Britain. Dickinson, who hoped desperately to avoid a final break with Britain, phrased colonial opposition to British policy as follows: “Your Majesty’s Ministers, persevering in their measures, and proceeding to open hostilities for enforcing them, have compelled us to arm in our own defence, and have engaged us in a controversy so peculiarly abhorrent to the affections of your still faithful Colonists, that when we consider whom we must oppose in this contest, and if it continues, what may be the consequences, our own particular misfortunes are accounted by us only as parts of our distress.”

By phrasing their discontent this way, Congress attempted to notify the king that American colonists were unhappy with ministerial policy, not his own. They concluded their plea with a final statement of fidelity to the crown: “That your Majesty may enjoy long and prosperous reign, and that your descendants may govern your Dominions with honour to themselves and happiness to their subjects, is our sincere prayer.”

By July 1776, the Declaration of Independence proclaimed something very different: “The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.” Congress’ language is critical to understanding the seismic shift that had occurred in American thought in just 12 months. Indeed, Congress insisted that Thomas Jefferson remove any language from the declaration that implicated the people of Great Britain or their elected representatives in Parliament. The fundamental grounds upon which Americans were taking up arms had shifted. The militia that had fired upon Redcoats at Lexington and Concord had been angry with Parliament, not the king, who they still trusted to desire only good for all of his subjects around the globe.

This belief changed after King George refused to so much as receive the Olive Branch Petition. Patriots had hoped that Parliament had curtailed colonial rights without the kings full knowledge, and that the petition would cause him to come to his subjects’ defense. When George III refused to read the petition, Patriots realized that Parliament was acting with royal knowledge and support. Americans’ patriotic rage was intensified by the January 1776 publication by English-born radical Thomas Paine of Common Sense, an influential pamphlet that attacked the monarchy, which Paine claimed had allowed crowned ruffians to impoverish the nation and set it together by the ears.

READ MORE: American Revolution: Causes and Timeline


American Revolution Podcast


We last left the Continental Congress a few weeks ago, having authorized the Continental Army and appointing its top commanders. Having shipped Washington and company off to war, Congress continued with its work overseeing prosecution of the war.

On June 27, 1775, Congress reversed its position on having Allen and Arnold retreat to the south of Lake Champlain. Instead it authorized them to go on the offensive invade Canada. Three days later, Congress formally adopted Articles of War for the new Continental Army. The articles were pretty standard, banning bad behavior or desertion, and requiring officers and men to obey their superiors- stuff like that. Congress also authorized attempts to form alliances with Indian Nations, in order to prevent them from allying with the British.

Around this same time, Congress received and condemned Parliament’s Restraining Acts barring the colonies from engaging in any trade with anyone outside the Empire. In short, Congress was getting everything onto a war setting with Britain.

Olive Branch Petition

Even so, many delegates still hoped to end the war peacefully through negotiation. On July 5th, Congress adopted yet another petition to the King, known to history as the Olive Branch Petition. This was primarily the work of Pennsylvania delegate John Dickinson, though Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, John Rutledge and Thomas Johnson also served on the drafting committee. No one from New England served on the committee. Several sources indicate that Thomas Jefferson drafted the original version of the petition. I have found no basis for this assertion. Jefferson did not sit on the draft committee, did not even arrive in Congress until several weeks after the draft committee had formed. When he did arrive, he immediately set to work drafting the Declaration on Taking up Arms, that I will discuss next. It seems that some books are confusing the drafting of these two documents.

Olive Branch Petition Signature Page (from Wikimedia)
While Dickinson had earned patriot street cred for his Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, years earlier, Dickinson still clung to the idea that the colonies could remain attached to the mother country if only Britain would allow the colonies to control their own internal taxes. Dickinson’s views were still pretty radical back in 1767, when he penned the Letters. Now, even though his views remained the same, he sounded almost like a Tory.

The petition itself avoided a long laundry list of the Parliament’s objectionable acts over the years. It stayed short and to the point. Things between Britain and the colonies had gotten crazy and now full scale war has started. This was the result of all the terrible stuff ministers were doing in the King’s name. It then humbly requested that the King use his authority to tell his ministers to respect the rights of the colonies and stop all this nonsense so everyone could get back to running an effective empire full of loyal thriving subjects.

The petition still clung to the fiction that the King really was on the side of the colonies, and that the pesky Parliament or corrupt members of the ministry had somehow tricked the King into letting them deprive the colonies of their sacred rights. The petition implored the King to step in and settle everything by supporting the patriot view on taxes and individual rights.

John Dickinson
(from Wikimedia)
It’s not clear to me if anyone really believed that the King was being duped by his ministers. In truth, clinging to that fiction helped maintain their own fiction that they were not engaged in treason. It also gave British authorities a way to step in a create a negotiated settlement in such a way that would not cause the King to lose face.

The petition itself only highlighted the divide in Congress between those who accepted they were at war and those who still clinged a hope to negotiate a compromise. The New England delegates considered the petition a waste of time. John Adams and Dickinson got into such a dispute over the petition that they stopped speaking to each other.

Despite the disagreement, Adams and just about everyone else in Congress signed the petition. It did not commit them to anything and simply demanded the King gave them their rights. It evinced no view that the colonists would ever compromise on the issue of taxation or their right to create their own colonial legislation within their colonies. Even if many delegates considered it a waste of time, there was no use in creating bad blood with the moderates over a refusal to sign it.

To the Inhabitants of Great Britain

Along with the petition, Congress included an Address to the Inhabitants of Great Britain, drafted by Richard Henry Lee, Robert Livingston, and Edmund Pendleton. The King had refused even to receive the petition of the First Continental Congress. Probably anticipating that the King might treat its new petition similarly, Congress hoped the address would help build popular support for their cause in Britain itself. In the past, British commercial interests had effectively lobbied Parliament to abandon taxes and other colonial policies that had caused problems. Some in Congress hoped perhaps they could get local dissenters in Britain to help further the cause of the American colonies.

Like the petition, the address made clear that the colonies were not seeking independence. Rather they sought to return to the way things were between Britain and the colonies in the early 1760’s. It noted that colonists were denied fundamental power to legislate for themselves or have basic due process protection. The Coercive Acts and the military occupation of Boston were only making the relationship worse. Parliament’s valid trade laws over the colonies profited Britain enough to justify the military and administrative costs that the British government incurred. Imposing additional taxes would only destroy what was already a highly profitable system for both sides. Congress clearly aimed this address at the commercial interests in England that it hoped would side with the colonies against Parliament.

Congress sent the petition and the address off to London in the care of Richard Penn of Pennsylvania. It then moved on to other business.

If the petition and address were not already a futile exercise, John Adams helped to make sure they were. Although Adams signed the petition in an attempt at colonial solidarily, he saw it as a danger. He feared the King might agree to the petition, bring an end to the hostilities, then let Parliament continue on taxing and restricting colonial rights. Adams had decided the time was right for independence, though he was not proclaiming that very loudly yet. He did not want to scare off the moderates.

John Adam
(from Journal of Am. Rev.)
Adams wrote a letter to Massachusetts President James Warren. It discussed his frustration with debate over these documents when they really should be fighting a war. He expressed his hope that the King would reject the petition. He called the petition a “measure of imbecility” and called Dickinson a man with a “great Fortune and piddling Genius” who was wasting Congress’ time with silly distractions when they would be better focusing on writing a Constitution. Someone stole Adams’ letter in transit and a Tory newspaper in Boston published it.

This revealed to all that at least some in Congress were not really serious about pursuing a negotiated peace. It also helped to solidify the animosity between Adams and Dickinson, and confirmed the view of many in Congress that Adams was uncompromising, and kind of a jerk.

Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms

The day after approving the Olive Branch Petition, Congress turned to approval of its Declaration on the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms. Congress drafted the declaration at the request of General Washington. The original committee consisted of John Rutledge, William Livingston, John Jay, Thomas Johnson and Benjamin Franklin. The committee had almost the same makeup as the one for the Olive Branch Petition, except for the addition of Livingston and the absence of Dickinson. Rutledge worked as primary author of the first draft, which Congress rejected. We don’t have a surviving copy of that draft, so it is unclear what Congress disliked. To fix the problem, Congress added two more delegates to the draft committee: John Dickinson, and a newcomer Thomas Jefferson. Again, no one from New England sat on this committee.

Thomas Jefferson
(from Wikimedia)
Thomas Jefferson had just arrived in Congress to replace Peyton Randolph who had returned to Virginia. Jefferson already had a good reputation as a writer, based primarily on A Summary View of the Rights of British America, which Jefferson had written the year before while still serving in the House of Burgesses. The First Continental Congress relied on that document as they were drafting their Declaration of Rights and Grievances. Beyond that, Jefferson was a relative unknown. He had served as a minor member of the Virginia House for a few years, but had not done much to make himself known. Jefferson also was not from a particularly prominent family in Virginia. He owned an inland estate, away from the wealthier tidewater region. His mother came from the more prominent Randolph family. And whatever his social standing, Jefferson had a reputation as a good writer and dedicated patriot.

With that in mind, Congress added him to the drafting committee. Jefferson based his first draft largely on his Summary View. I am guessing he borrowed liberally since he reported his first draft of the 13 page document the next day. There is no existing copy of this first draft, but many delegates found it much too combative. Jefferson spelled out many of the atrocities and infringements on American liberty that led to the current state of war against Britain and the colonies.

Jefferson submitted his draft to the Committee. Dickinson began picking it apart, finding the language far too strident and combative for his liking. Eventually, the Committee got tired of arguing and told Dickinson to go work on Jefferson’s draft and bring it back to the Committee later. Dickinson made substantial changes to the language, softening its down, and making explicitly clear that Congress was not seeking independence, only the protection of its long held rights. Jefferson later noted that Dickinson only kept the last few paragraphs of his original draft. In fact, Dickinson kept Jefferson’s general outline and some language throughout, but definitely made substantial changes to most of it.

The final document, in the end, received nearly universal approval in Congress. Even John Adams spoke approvingly of it. Congress printed copies to be distributed throughout the colonies, and to be read to the soldiers in the Continental Army.

Address to the Six Nations

In preparing to go to war, Congress concerned itself with one other major source of power, the Native American population. The Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy had favored the British over the French in the wars of the prior 100 years. Generally, though, they preferred to remain neutral. Now, with Britain and the colonies going to war with one another, Congress hoped to encourage the Indians to stick to that neutrality.

Congress’ address to the Iroquois was simple. They outlined the basics of the colonies’ dispute with England and suggested the Iroquois simply stay out of it. Congress feared British agents would stir up the Indians to fight against the rebellion. Congress simply wanted to make sure that did not happen. The Address to the Six Nations sought to open a dialogue with the Iroquois to ensure they would stay out of any fighting.

With the petition, addresses, and declarations complete, Congress turned to some more practical measures, at least as Adams saw it, toward prosecuting the war. Washington was by this time, hard at work trying to create an effective Continental Army. Already Congress was struggling with how they were going to support that huge standing army that needed food, clothing, supplies, and ammunition.

Franklin, Adams,and
Jefferson (from Smithsonian)
Congress further realized that fighting would almost certainly spread well beyond Boston, and could envelope all of North America. There was no way they could afford to expand the Continental Army to defend the entire continent. Congress decided to follow the Massachusetts example. On July 18th, Congress approved a call to form minuteman units in all of the colonies. Essentially they were putting the militia on high alert everywhere so that they could respond to an British attack or invasion anywhere. Minutemen would drill regularly and be ready to act as needed.

In some sense, Congress was playing catch up here. Most colonies had already put their militia on high alert. Even Pennsylvania, which did not have a tradition of citizen militia, had formed a militia army months earlier and had been drilling and preparing its forces for a potential fight.

Congress also quickly found itself overwhelmed and unsure how to control the new Continental Army. They had reasonable confidence in George Washington their new Commander in Chief, and a former delegate. But the fear of standing armies and their threat to civilian rule pervaded their thoughts. Without an executive branch, Congress had to maintain its own civilian oversight of the army.

It retained all authority to commission officers. While Washington might make recommendations, Congress often appointed leaders that Washington did not want. It frequently made choices, not on military ability, but to ensure fair representation of each colony, or to provide benefits to friends and relatives. Many successful field officers like Benedict Arnold, quickly realized that battlefield victories did not lead to advancement. Armchair officers in Philadelphia, who could get the ear of a powerful delegate, had a much better chance of promotion. As a result, Arnold remained a colonel while men in Philadelphia received appointments as generals.

Even generals grumbled about some appointments. Maj. Gen. Lee still wanted to be Commander in Chief. Gen. Heath became the superior of Gen. Thomas, even though Thomas had been Heath’s superior in the Massachusetts Provincial Army. But for the most part, this grumbling remained limited to letters to friends. Everyone wanted civilian control to work. Officers could not be seen publicly seeking more power for themselves.

Benjamin Church
(from Wikimedia)
Aside from appointing officers, Congress actively involved itself in the day to day affairs of the army. It expected regular reports from Washington. Many other officers liberally corresponded with delegates in Congress on a wide range of military issues. Congress set up committees to deal with a variety of ongoing military matters.

Congress also created a formal medical department for the army. Clearly if there was fighting, the soldiers would need medical care. As I mentioned last week, Dr. Benjamin Church became the first Surgeon General.

Congress made clear from the beginning that it would not simply create an army and set it loose. Even placing congressional delegates among its top generals was not enough. The history of Cromwell, who started as a member of Parliament and ended up taking control of Britain and tossing out Parliament, remained in the minds of many delegates. They wanted to keep the army on a short leash, ensuring that it would always remain loyal to Congress and accept the continuing authority of civilian leadership over the army.

Congress hoped to improve communications in the colonies. The unofficial committees of correspondence had proven useful. But there needed to be a better system for sending messages around the continent, especially now that there was no British oversight of a postal system. Fortunately for America, the man in Britain who had worked on an American postal system for many years was none other than Benjamin Franklin.

He has lost that post a year earlier after the Ministry exposed his revelations of Gov. Hutchinson’s letters to the patriots in Boston. But Franklin well understood the existing system and could continue to manage it. Congress made Franklin the new Postmaster General for the continent. Franklin would collect a $1000 salary and not do a whole lot more with the job. He remained a delegate to the Continental Congress, which still took up most of his time. He appointed several local postmasters and hired his son-in-law, Richard Bache, as his assistant. The following year, Bache would take over for Franklin as Postmaster General.

Articles of Confederation Proposed

Late in July, Franklin also began circulating ideas for Articles of Confederation. The Continental Congress really had no legal authority for its existence or anything it was doing. It needed a set of rules, guiding principles, and restrictions on its power if it wanted to continue. Franklin had been pushing for this sort of confederation for decades, going back to his support for the Albany Plan in 1754. His proposed articles called for making the Continental Congress a permanent body to promote common issues of defense, safety, and welfare. It also called on colonies to make payments to Congress based on their population.

Although Franklin circulated the idea, the moderates in Congress recoiled at the prospect. Supporting such a measure could be seen as supporting a permanent independent government to replace Britain. Members were not ready to go that far yet. As a result, though delegates discussed the matter, they decided not to have any formal vote in this session. Congress would continue to run on an ad-hoc basis.

Conciliatory Proposition Rejected

The final issue on Congress’ agenda that summer was Lord North’s Conciliatory Proposition. You may recall back in February, Lord North sent a proposition to the various colonies to end all colonial taxes by Parliament. Instead, Parliament would issue a demand for money to each colony and allow the local legislature to raise the money however they wanted.

Now this proposal had gone to the various royal governments in each colony. The Ministry did not acknowledge the Continental Congress, nor any of the provincial congresses that had taken control. All of the colonies had pretty universally rejected the idea of giving Parliament a blank check to demand as much money as it wanted, whenever it wanted, for any purpose it wanted. That just seemed like a bad idea to everyone. Even moderates like Dickinson could not support this idea.

So, the Second Continental Congress took it upon itself to reject the Conciliatory Proposition and send the response back to Lord North on behalf of all the colonies. Congress had decided any peace would be on its own terms, not that of anyone in London.

Two days later, on August 2, 1775, Congress adjourned for the remainder of the summer, planning to resume work on September 5th.

Click here to donate
American Revolution Podcast is distributed 100% free of charge. If you can chip in to help defray my costs, I'd appreciate whatever you can give. Make a one time donation through my PayPal account.
Thanks,
Mike Troy

Click here to see my Patreon Page
You can support the American Revolution Podcast as a Patreon subscriber. This is an option for people who want to make monthly pledges. Patreon support will give you access to Podcast extras and help make the podcast a sustainable project. Thanks again!

Visit http://www.amrevpodcast.com for a list of all episodes.

Declaration on the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms & Appeal to the Inhabitants of Great Britain (full text): http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/arms.asp

Jefferson and Dickinson Drafts of the Declaration on Taking up Arms:
http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/contcong_07-06-75.asp

Free eBooks
(from archive.org unless noted)

Journals of Congress, Vol 1, (contains minutes of First Continental Congress and first year of the Second Continental Congress.

Journals of the Continental Congress, Vol. 2 May 10-Sept. 20, 1775 Washington: US Gov’t Printing Office 1905.

Chinard, Gilbert Thomas Jefferson: The Apostle of Americanism, Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1944 (originally published 1929).

Dickinson, John The Political Writings of John Dickinson, Wilmington: Bonsol and Niles, 1801.

Morse, John T. John Adams, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1912 (original 1889).

Stillé, Charles The Life and Times of John Dickinson, Philadelphia: Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1891.

Van Doren, Carl Benjamin Franklin, New York: Viking Press, 1938.

Books Worth Buying
(links to Amazon.com unless otherwise noted)

Beck, Derek, Igniting the American Revolution 1773-1775, Naperville, Ill: Sourcebooks, 2015.

Isaacson, Walter Benjamin Franklin: An American Life, New York, Simon & Schuster, 2003.

McCullough, David John Adams, New York, Simon & Schuster, 2001 (book recommendation of the week).

Meacham, John Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, New York: Random House, 2012.

Morgan, Edmund Benjamin Franklin, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001.

Peterson, Merrill (ed) The Portable Thomas Jefferson, New York: Penguin Books, 1975.

Phillips, Kevin 1775: A Good Year for Revolution, New York: Penguin Books, 2012.


On This Day Congress adopts Olive Branch Petition

On this day, July 5th, in 1775, the Continental Congress adopts the Olive Branch Petition, written by John Dickinson, which appeals directly to King George III and expresses hope for reconciliation between the colonies and Great Britain. Dickinson, who hoped desperately to avoid a final break with Britain, phrased colonial opposition to British policy as follows: “Your Majesty’s Ministers, persevering in their measures, and proceeding to open hostilities for enforcing them, have compelled us to arm in our own defence, and have engaged us in a controversy so peculiarly abhorrent to the affections of your still faithful Colonists, that when we consider whom we must oppose in this contest, and if it continues, what may be the consequences, our own particular misfortunes are accounted by us only as parts of our distress.”

By phrasing their discontent this way, Congress attempted to notify the king that American colonists were unhappy with ministerial policy, not his own. They concluded their plea with a final statement of fidelity to the crown: “That your Majesty may enjoy long and prosperous reign, and that your descendants may govern your Dominions with honour to themselves and happiness to their subjects, is our sincere prayer.”

By July 1776, the Declaration of Independence proclaimed something very different: “The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.” Congress’ language is critical to understanding the seismic shift that had occurred in American thought in just 12 months. Indeed, Congress insisted that Thomas Jefferson remove any language from the declaration that implicated the people of Great Britain or their elected representatives in Parliament. The fundamental grounds upon which Americans were taking up arms had shifted. The militia that had fired upon Redcoats at Lexington and Concord had been angry with Parliament, not the king, who they still trusted to desire only good for all of his subjects around the globe.

This belief changed after King George refused to so much as receive the Olive Branch Petition. Patriots had hoped that Parliament had curtailed colonial rights without the kings full knowledge, and that the petition would cause him to come to his subjects’ defense. When George III refused to read the petition, Patriots realized that Parliament was acting with royal knowledge and support. Americans’ patriotic rage was intensified by the January 1776 publication by English-born radical Thomas Paine of Common Sense, an influential pamphlet that attacked the monarchy, which Paine claimed had allowed crowned ruffians to impoverish the nation and set it together by the ears.


The King and Parliament believed they had the right to tax the colonies. Many colonists felt that they should not pay these taxes, because they were passed in England by Parliament, not by their own colonial governments. They protested, saying that these taxes violated their rights as British citizens.

“No taxation without representation” — the rallying cry of the American Revolution — gives the impression that taxation was the principal irritant between Britain and its American colonies.


King George VI becomes the first reigning British monarch to visit the United States when he and his wife, Elizabeth, cross the Canadian-U.S. border to Niagara Falls, New York. During World War II, King George worked to keep up British morale by visiting bombed areas and touring war zones.

What were the major causes of the American Revolution? The American Revolution was principally caused by colonial opposition to British attempts to impose greater control over the colonies and to make them repay the crown for its defense of them during the French and Indian War (1754–63).


The Declaration describes what colonists viewed as the effort of the British Parliament to extend its jurisdiction into the colonies following the Seven Years' War. Objectionable policies listed in the Declaration include taxation without representation, extended use of vice admiralty courts, the several Coercive Acts, and the Declaratory Act. The Declaration describes how the colonists had, for ten years, repeatedly petitioned for the redress of their grievances, only to have their pleas ignored or rejected. Even though British troops have been sent to enforce these unconstitutional acts, the Declaration insists that the colonists do not yet seek independence from the mother country. They have taken up arms "in defense of the Freedom that is our Birthright and which we ever enjoyed until the late Violation of it", and will "lay them down when hostilities shall cease on the part of the Aggressors".

The opening paragraph likens the colonies as being enslaved to the Legislature of Great Britain by violence, against its own constitution, and gives that as the reason for the colonies taking up arms:

The Legislature of Great Britain, however, stimulated by an inordinate passion for power, not only unjustifiable, but which they know to be peculiarly reprobated by the very Constitution of that Kingdom, and desperate of success in any mode of contest where regard should be had to the truth, law, or right, have at length, deserting those, attempted to effect their cruel and impolitic purpose of enslaving these Colonies by violence, and have thereby rendered it necessary for us to close with their last appeal from reason to arms. [2]

In the 19th century, the authorship of the Declaration was disputed. In a collection of his works first published in 1801, John Dickinson took credit for writing the Declaration. This claim went unchallenged by Thomas Jefferson until many years later when Jefferson was nearly 80 years old. In his autobiography, Jefferson claimed that he wrote the first draft, but Dickinson objected that it was too radical, and so Congress allowed Dickinson to write a more moderate version, keeping only the last four-and-a-half paragraphs of Jefferson's draft. Jefferson's version of events was accepted by historians for many years. In 1950, Julian P. Boyd, the editor of Jefferson's papers, examined the extant drafts and determined that Jefferson's memory was faulty and that Dickinson claimed too much credit for the final text.

According to Boyd, an initial draft was reportedly written by John Rutledge, a member of a committee of five appointed to create the Declaration. Rutledge's draft was not accepted and does not survive. Jefferson and Dickinson were then added to the committee. Jefferson was appointed to write a draft how much he drew upon the lost Rutledge draft, if at all, is unknown. Jefferson then apparently submitted his draft to Dickinson, who suggested some changes, which Jefferson, for the most part, decided not to use. The result was that Dickinson rewrote the Declaration, keeping some passages written by Jefferson. Contrary to Jefferson's recollection in his old age, Dickinson's version was not less radical according to Boyd, in some respects, Dickinson's draft was blunter. The bold statement near the end was written by Dickinson: "Our cause is just. Our union is perfect. Our internal resources are great, and, if necessary, foreign assistance is undoubtedly attainable." The disagreement in 1775 between Dickinson and Jefferson appears to have been primarily a matter of style, not content.


Olive Branch Petition Text

Approved by the Continental Congress on July 5, 1775

To the King's Most Excellent Majesty:

MOST EXCELLENT SOVERIEIGN: We your Majesty's faithful subjects of the colonies of New-hampshire, Massachusetts-bay, Rhode island and Providence plantations, Connecticut, New-York, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, the counties of New Castle, Kent, and Sussex on Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, in behalf of ourselves and the inhabitants of these colonies, who have deputed us to represent them in general Congress, entreat your Majesty’s gracious attention to this our humble petition.

The union between our Mother Country and these colonies, and the energy of mild and just government, produced benefits so remarkably important, and afforded such an assurance of their permanency and increase, that the wonder and envy of other Nations were excited, while they beheld Great Britain riseing to a power the most extraordinary the world had ever known.

Her rivals observing, that there was no probability of this happy connection being broken by civil dissentions, and apprehending its future effects, if left any longer undisturbed, resolved to prevent her receiving such continual and formidable accessions of wealth and strength, by checking the growth of these settlements from which they were to be derived.

In the prosecution of this attempt events so unfavourable to the design took place, that every friend to the interests of Great Britain and these colonies entertained pleasing and reasonable expectations of seeing an additional force and extention immediately given to the operations of the union hitherto experienced, by an enlargement of the dominions of the Crown, and the removal of ancient and warlike enemies to a greater distance.

At the conclusion therefore of the late war, the most glorious and advantagious that ever had been carried on by British arms, your loyal colonists having contributed to its success, by such repeated and strenuous exertions, as frequently procured them the distinguished approbation of your Majesty, of the late king, and of Parliament, doubted not but that they should be permitted with the rest of the empire, to share in the blessings of peace and the emoluments of victory and conquest. While these recent and honorable acknowledgments of their merits remained on record in the journals and acts of the august legislature the arliament, undefaced by the imputation or even the suspicion of any offence, they were alarmed by a new system of Statutes and regulations adopted for the administration of the colonies, that filled their minds with the most painful fears and jealousies and to their inexpressible astonishment perceived the dangers of a foreign quarrel quickly succeeded by domestic dangers, in their judgment of a more dreadful kind.

Nor were their anxieties alleviated by any tendancy in this system to promote the welfare of the Mother Country. For 'tho its effects were more immediately felt by them, yets its influence appeared to be injurious to the commerce and prosperity of Great Britain.

We shall decline the ungrateful task of describing the irksome variety of artifices practised by many of your Majestys ministers, the delusive pretences, fruitless terrors, and unavailing severities, that have from time to time been dealt out by them, in their attempts to execute this impolitic plan, or of traceing thro' a series of years past the progress of the unhappy differences between Great Britain and these colonies which have flowed from this fatal source.

Your Majestys ministers persevering in their measures and proceeding to open hostilities for enforcing them, have compelled us to arm in our own defence, and have engaged us in a controversy so peculiarly abhorrent to the affection of your still faithful colonists, that when we consider whom we must oppose in this contest, and if it continues, what may be the consequences, our own particular misfortunes are accounted by us, only as parts of our distress.

Knowing, to what violent resentments and incurable animosities, civil discords are apt to exasperate and inflame the contending parties, we think ourselves required by indispensable obligations to Almighty God, to your Majesty, to our fellow subjects, and to ourselves, immediately to use all the means in our power not incompatible with our safety, for stopping the further effusion of blood, and for averting the impending calamities that threaten the British Empire.

Thus called upon to address your Majesty on affairs of such moment to America, and probably to all your dominions, we are earnestly desirous of performing this office with the utmost deference for your Majesty and we therefore pray, that your royal magnanimity and benevolence may make the most favourable construction of our expressions on so uncommon an occasion. Could we represent in their full force the sentiments that agitate the minds of us your dutiful subjects, we are persuaded, your Majesty would ascribe any seeming deviation from reverence, and our language, and even in our conduct, not to any reprehensible intention but to the impossibility of reconciling the usual appearances of respect with a just attention to our own preservation against those artful and cruel enemies, who abuse your royal confidence and authority for the purpose of effecting our destruction.

Attached to your Majestys person, family and government with all the devotion that principle and affection can inspire, connected with Great Britain by the strongest ties that can unite societies, and deploring every event that tends in any degree to weaken them, we solemnly assure your Majesty, that we not only most ardently desire the former harmony between her and these colonies may be restored but that a concord may be established between them upon so firm a basis, as to perpetuate its blessings uninterrupted by any future dissentions to succeeding generations in both countries, and to transmit your Majestys name to posterity adorned with that signal and lasting glory that has attended the memory of those illustrious personages, whose virtues and abilities have extricated states from dangerous convulsions, and by securing happiness to others, have erected the most noble and durable monuments to their own fame.

We beg leave further to assure your Majesty that notwithstanding the sufferings of your loyal colonists during the course of the present controversy, our breasts retain too tender a regard for the kingdom from which we derive our origin to request such a reconciliation as might in any manner be inconsistent with her dignity or her welfare. These, related as we are to her, honor and duty, as well as inclination induce us to support and advance and the apprehensions that now oppress our hearts with unspeakable grief, being once removed, your Majesty will find your faithful subjects on this continent ready and willing at all times, as they ever have been with their lives and fortunes to assert and maintain the rights and interests of your Majesty and of our Mother Country.

We therefore beseech your Majesty, that your royal authority and influence may be graciously interposed to procure us releif [sic] from our afflicting fears and jealousies occasioned by the system before mentioned, and to settle peace through every part of your dominions, with all humility submitting to your Majesty's wise consideration, whether it may not be expedient for facilitating those important purposes, that your Majesty be pleased to direct some mode by which the united applications of your faithful colonists to the throne, in pursuance of their common councils, may be improved into a happy and permanent reconciliation and that in the meantime measures be taken for preventing the further destruction of the lives of your Majesty's subjects and that such statutes as more immediately distress any of your Majestys colonies be repealed: For by such arrangements as your Majesty's wisdom can form for collecting the united sense of your American people, we are convinced, your Majesty would receive such satisfactory proofs of the disposition of the colonists towards their sovereign and the parent state, that the wished for opportunity would soon be restored to them, of evincing the sincerity of their professions by every testimony of devotion becoming the most dutiful subjects and the most affectionate colonists.

That your Majesty may enjoy a long and prosperous reign, and that your descendants may govern your dominions with honor to themselves and happiness to their subjects is our sincere and fervent prayer.

JOHN LANGDON,
THOMAS CUSHING, New-Hampshire

SAMUEL ADAMS,
JOHN ADAMS,
ROBERT TREAT PAINE, Massachusetts

SAMUEL WARD,
ELIPHALET DYER, Rhode-Island

ROGER SHERMAN,
SILAS DEANE, Connecticut

PHILIP LIVINGSTON,
JAMES DUANE,
JOHN ALSOP,
FRANCIS LEWIS,
JOHN JAY,
ROBERT LIVINGSTON, JR.,
LEWIS MORRIS,
WILLIAM FLOYD,
HENRY WISNER, New-York

WILLIAM LIVINGSTON,
JOHN DE HART,
RICHARD SMITH, New-Jersey

JOHN DICKINSON,
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN,
GEORGE ROSS,
JAMES WILSON,
CHARLES HUMPHREYS,
EDWARD BIDDLE, Pennsylvania

CAESAR RODNEY,
THOMAS McKEAN,
GEORGE READ, Delaware Counties

MATTHEW TILGHMAN,
THOMAS JOHNSON, JR.,
WILLIAM PACA,
SAMUEL CHASE,
THOMAS STONE, Maryland

PATRICK HENRY, JR.,
RICHARD HENRY LEE,
EDMUND PENDLETON,
BENJAMIN HARRISON,
THOMAS JEFFERSON, Virginia

WILLIAM HOOPER,
JOSEPH HEWES, North-Carolina

HENRY MIDDLETON,
THOMAS LYNCH,
CHRISTOPHER GADSDEN,
JOHN RUTLEDGE,
EDWARD RUTLEDGE, South-Carolina


Olive Branch Petition

We your Majesty&rsquos faithful subjects of the colonies of New-hampshire, Massachusetts-bay, Rhode island and Providence plantations, Connecticut, New-York, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, the counties of New Castle, Kent, and Sussex on Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, in behalf of ourselves and the inhabitants of these colonies, who have deputed us to represent them in general Congress, entreat your Majesty&rsquos gracious attention to this our humble petition.

The union between our Mother Country and these colonies, and the energy of mild and just government, produced benefits so remarkably important, and afforded such an assurance of their permanency and increase, that the wonder and envy of other Nations were excited, while they beheld Great Britain riseing to a power the most extraordinary the world had ever known.

Her rivals observing, that there was no probability of this happy connection being broken by civil dissentions, and apprehending its future effects, if left any longer undisturbed, resolved to prevent her receiving such continual and formidable accessions of wealth and strength, by checking the growth of these settlements from which they were to be derived.

In the prosecution of this attempt events so unfavourable to the design took place, that every friend to the interests of Great Britain and these colonies entertained pleasing and reasonable expectations of seeing an additional force and extention immediately given to the operations of the union hitherto experienced, by an enlargement of the dominions of the Crown, and the removal of ancient and warlike enemies to a greater distance.

At the conclusion therefore of the late war, the most glorious and advantagious that ever had been carried on by British arms, your loyal colonists having contributed to its success, by such repeated and strenuous exertions, as frequently procured them the distinguished approbation of your Majesty, of the late king, and of Parliament, doubted not but that they should be permitted with the rest of the empire, to share in the blessings of peace and the emoluments of victory and conquest. While these recent and honorable acknowledgments of their merits remained on record in the journals and acts of the august legislature the Parliament, undefaced by the imputation or even the suspicion of any offence, they were alarmed by a new system of Statutes and regulations adopted for the administration of the colonies, that filled their minds with the most painful fears and jealousies and to their inexpressible astonishment perceived the dangers of a foreign quarrel quickly succeeded by domestic dangers, in their judgment of a more dreadful kind.

Nor were their anxieties alleviated by any tendancy in this system to promote the welfare of the Mother Country. For &lsquotho its effects were more immediately felt by them, yets its influence appeared to be injurious to the commerce and prosperity of Great Britain.

We shall decline the ungrateful task of describing the irksome variety of artifices practised by many of your Majestys ministers, the delusive pretences, fruitless terrors, and unavailing severities, that have from time to time been dealt out by them, in their attempts to execute this impolitic plan, or of traceing thro&rsquo a series of years past the progress of the unhappy differences between Great Britain and these colonies which have flowed from this fatal source.

Your Majestys ministers persevering in their measures and proceeding to open hostilities for enforcing them, have compelled us to arm in our own defence, and have engaged us in a controversy so peculiarly abhorrent to the affection of your still faithful colonists, that when we consider whom we must oppose in this contest, and if it continues, what may be the consequences, our own particular misfortunes are accounted by us, only as parts of our distress.

Knowing, to what violent resentments and incurable animosities, civil discords are apt to exasperate and inflame the contending parties, we think ourselves required by indispensable obligations to Almighty God, to your Majesty, to our fellow subjects, and to ourselves, immediately to use all the means in our power not incompatible with our safety, for stopping the further effusion of blood, and for averting the impending calamities that threaten the British Empire.

Thus called upon to address your Majesty on affairs of such moment to America, and probably to all your dominions, we are earnestly desirous of performing this office with the utmost deference for your Majesty and we therefore pray, that your royal magnanimity and benevolence may make the most favourable construction of our expressions on so uncommon an occasion. Could we represent in their full force the sentiments that agitate the minds of us your dutiful subjects, we are persuaded, your Majesty would ascribe any seeming deviation from reverence, and our language, and even in our conduct, not to any reprehensible intention but to the impossibility or reconciling the usual appearances of respect with a just attention to our own preservation against those artful and cruel enemies, who abuse your royal confidence and authority for the purpose of effecting our destruction.

Attached to your Majestys person, family and government with all the devotion that principle and affection can inspire, connected with Great Britain by the strongest ties that can unite societies, and deploring every event that tends in any degree to weaken them, we solemnly assure your Majesty, that we not only most ardently desire the former harmony between her and these colonies may be restored but that a concord may be established between them upon so firm a basis, as to perpetuate its blessings uninterrupted by any future dissentions to succeeding generations in both countries, and to transmit your Majestys name to posterity adorned with that signal and lasting glory that has attended the memory of those illustrious personages, whose virtues and abilities have extricated states from dangerous convulsions, and by securing happiness to others, have erected the most noble and durable monuments to their own fame.

We beg leave further to assure your Majesty that notwithstanding the sufferings of your loyal colonists during the course of the present controversy, our breasts retain too tender a regard for the kingdom from which we derive our origin to request such a reconciliation as might in any manner be inconsistent with her dignity or her welfare. These, related as we are to her, honor and duty, as well as inclination induce us to support and advance and the apprehensions that now oppress our hearts with unspeakable grief, being once removed, your Majesty will find your faithful subjects on this continent ready and willing at all times, as they ever have been with their lives and fortunes to assert and maintain the rights and interests of your Majesty and of our Mother Country.

We therefore beseech your Majesty, that your royal authority and influence may be graciously interposed to procure us releif [sic] from our afflicting fears and jealousies occasioned by the system before mentioned, and to settle peace through every part of your dominions, with all humility submitting to your Majesty&rsquos wise consideration, whether it may not be expedient for facilitating those important purposes, that your Majesty be pleased to direct some mode by which the united applications of your faithful colonists to the throne, in pursuance of their common councils, may be improved into a happy and permanent reconciliation and that in the meantime measures be taken for preventing the further destruction of the lives of your Majesty&rsquos subjects and that such statutes as more immediately distress any of your Majestys colonies be repealed: For by such arrangements as your Majesty&rsquos wisdom can form for collecting the united sense of your American people, we are convinced, your Majesty would receive such satisfactory proofs of the disposition of the colonists towards their sovereign and the parent state, that the wished for opportunity would soon be restored to them, of evincing the sincerity of their professions by every testimony of devotion becoming the most dutiful subjects and the most affectionate colonists.

That your Majesty may enjoy a long and prosperous reign, and that your descendants may govern your dominions with honor to themselves and happiness to their subjects is our sincere and fervent prayer.

The Olive Branch was drafted during the First Continental Congress and written by John Dickonson


Was Amerigo Vespucci A Tyrant Towards Slaves?

It is controversial, everyone had different viewpoints over this issue.

But from my viewpoint, slavery itself a tyranny. Everyone who involved in it was a tyrant.

That is why Amerigo Vespucci also can’t run away from it.

But again, during the period of time, slavery was a very normal thing for the white European race.

So, from this point of view, it will not be fair to say Vespucci was a tyrant because he was doing what was going on in his society.

At least, he was a far better person than Christopher Columbus.

Vespucci did not do the atrocities that Columbus had done on native people while exploring the new continent.

[Did You Know? Christopher Columbus Was One of The Worst Guys In American History. He Executed Many Atrocities On Native American People. Follow This Article To Learn About His Atrocities: Link]


The Olive Branch and the Declaration of Independence by Mark Boonshoft June 30, 2015

Was the Declaration of Independence really necessary? Or was it widely understood by the end of 1775 that the American colonies were already engaged in a war for independence? The key to answering these questions about July 4, 1776 begins with the events of July 5, 1775, when the Second Continental Congress approved the Olive Branch Petition.

Drafted by John Dickinson of Pennsylvania and signed by delegates from twelve North American colonies — Georgia did not decide to send delegates until later in 1775 — the Olive Branch Petition was a final attempt at reconciliation. In flowery language, the petition attempted to convey the “tender regard" the colonists felt "for the kingdom.” The petitioners assured the King that they remained “faithful subjects…of our Mother country.” Congress wanted the King to intervene on their behalf and repeal a number of “statutes and regulations adopted for the administration of the colonies” by Parliament, which they claimed had stoked colonial rebelliousness.

With the benefit of hindsight, the Petition seems incredibly far-fetched. Some serious people at the time, though, wanted to find a plan for reconciliation. Adam Smith argued that to stave off rebellion, North America should gain representation in Parliament with the understanding that “[t]he seat of Empire would then naturally” move there after some time. Despite ten years of agitation, the window for reconciliation had not necessarily closed.

As we know, the Petition was a tough sell. For all intents and purposes, the colonists and England were already at war. The Battles of Lexington and Concord had taken place nearly three months earlier, and Bunker Hill even more recently. So the colonists tried their best to explain away the violence. They claimed that British officials’ dogged determination to enforce policies opposed by the colonists led to “open hostilities” and “compelled us to arm in our own defence.” What choice, the colonists asked, did they have but to defend themselves? On the very the next day, July 6th, 1775, Congress issued a “Declaration of the Necessity for Taking up Arms” which attempted to justify their military response to British policies. Given this “Declaration,” was the Olive Branch Petition totally disingenuous?

When the petition finally did arrive, the King refused to see it. The King made his position clear before he even received the Olive Branch. In light of “various disorderly acts committed in disturbance of the publick peace, to the obstruction of lawful commerce, and to the oppression of our loyal subjects,” the King declared that the colonists were in “open and avowed rebellion” and “levying war against us.” He then went on to outline some measures aimed at suppressing the rebellion in the colonies and support for it in England.

In October, the King took an even harder line in a speech to Parliament — the library holds a contemporary copy or draft of this document as well. Congress raised an Army, was in the process of raising a Navy, and assumed a number of other governing powers that seemed to suggest the colonists had forsaken their connection to the mother country. Worse yet, they unleashed a “torrent of violence” on the King’s loyal subjects in the colonies. Ultimately, the King concluded that the “rebellious war … is become more general, and is manifestly carried on for the purpose of establishing an independent empire.”

The King did not need to see a Declaration of Independence. He was convinced the colonists were already engaged in a war for independence. And for their part, the colonists had already issued a “Declaration” that attempted to justify their military actions as legitimate. This all begs the question: by the end of 1775, what was left to declare?

Why did Congress feel the need to declare independence from an Empire that already acted as though the colonies were engaged in an independence movement? Did doing so amount to anything more than telling the British something they already knew? And if that was the case, why did it take so long to do after it became clear that the Olive Branch Petition failed?

One answer comes from comparing the opening statements of the two documents. Whereas in the Olive Branch Petition, Congress identified themselves as representatives of twelve colonies in the Declaration, Congress claims to speak for the “United States of America.” The intervening months amounted to a critical period of self-definition.

Americans tend to focus almost exclusively on the soaring rhetoric of the Declaration’s second paragraph. Ironically, our intense focus on Declaration’s humanitarian principles — that all men are created equal — divorces the document from the particular historical moment in which it was written. The Declaration’s self-assured tone belied the fact that self-conscious American unity was newfangled, tenuous, and imperiled. Grappling with the meaning of the Olive Branch, and entertaining the possibility that the events of 1775 and 1776 could have unfolded differently, allows us to better understand both how the Declaration came to be and what it was supposed to do.

In honor of the upcoming 250th anniversary of the Stamp Act, the New York Public Library has put on display a set of documents from its collections that cover the entire span from 1765 to 1776. Documents include the manuscript version of the Olive Branch Petition, a contemporary printing of the “Declaration of the Necessity for Taking up Arms,” and the first New York printing of the Declaration of Independence. Sparking the Revolution: No Taxation Without Representation will be open for public viewing in the McGraw Rotunda, on the 3rd floor of the Stephen A Schwarzman Building, through July 13th. Of course the exhibit also coincides with the Fourth of July. "Sparking the Revolution" contextualizes America's various Declarations within a long chain of events and focuses our attention on the whole American Revolution.


Watch the video: The Olive Branch Petition