A Summary View of the Rights of British America: Set Forth in Some Resolutions Intended for the Inspection of the Present Delegates of the People of Virginia, Now in Convention / by a Native, and Member of the House of Burgesses


This pamphlet is Thomas Jefferson’s personal copy of A Summary View of the Rights of British America, which he originally drafted in July 1774 as a set of instructions for the Virginia delegates to the first Continental Congress. Jefferson argued that the British Parliament had no rights to govern the colonies, which he claimed had been independent since their founding. He also described the usurpations of power and deviations from law committed by King George III and Parliament. Jefferson was not present in the Virginia House when his draft instructions were debated and the House adopted a more moderate position than the one he articulated, but his friends had his instructions published in pamphlet form. The pamphlet was circulated in London, as well as in Philadelphia and New York, and helped to establish Jefferson's reputation as a skillful, if radical, political writer.

Last updated: September 18, 2015