The Olive Branch Petition

Olive_petition_petition_bigIn a last-ditch attempt to avoid a full-blown war with one of the world’s foremost superpowers, the Second Continental Congress dispatched the Olive Branch Petition to London on 8 July 1775. The petition, originally drafted by Thomas Jefferson and tweaked by John Dickinson (who found Jefferson’s language too offensive), claimed the colonies only wanted to negotiate trade and tax regulations with the mother country, not break off entirely. Dickinson proposed either giving the colonists free trade and taxes equal to those levied on people in Great Britain, or no taxes and strict trade regulations. Though the petition was approved by the Congress on 5 July, some members, most notably John Adams, were not at all in favour and believed war with Britain was inevitable. A letter written by Adams, in which he expressed his belief that the Colonies should have already raised a navy and started capturing British officials, was unfortunately intercepted and sent to London at the same time as the Olive Branch Petition, thus completely undermining the latter document. King George III did not react well, declaring the American colonies to be in a state of rebellion on 23 August. And we all know how that turned out.

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