Summary View of the Rights of British America
About This Text
Author: Thomas Jefferson
Composed: c.1774 CE
Thomas Jefferson’s Summary View of the Rights of British America, written in July 1774, set out the position he hoped the Virginia Delegates would present at the First Continental Congress. Jefferson boldly asserts that “British Parliament has no right to exercise authority over us.” He accuses the King of forcing slavery onto American colonists, an accusation he would revive in the first draft of the Declaration of Independence. He also chides the British government for its exclusive trading rights with its American colony and its harsh response to the Boston Tea Party. The Virginia House of Burgesses ultimately instructed its delegates to present a more cautious position at the Congress. Nevertheless, friends of Jefferson circulated the document as a pamphlet, which cemented Jefferson’s fame as a political writer and framed future revolutionary debates.