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02.04.01 Jefferson, Thomas, A Summary View of the Rights of British America, published in 1774.

Notes Concerning the Author

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), a Virginian, was an American Founding Father, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776) and the third President of the United States (1801–1809).  He was a spokesman for democracy and the rights of man with worldwide influence.  At the beginning of the American Revolution, he served in the Continental Congress and then served as a wartime Governor of Virginia (1779–1781).  Just after the British surrender at Yorktown, Virginia, from mid-1784, Jefferson served the thirteen now-independent States, as a diplomat, stationed in Paris.  In May 1785, he became the United States Minister to France.

Go to 20.00.01 to read our commentary on Thomas Jefferson and his works.


The complete title is: 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.  It was a tract written by Thomas Jefferson in 1774, before the British colonies declared their independence, in which he laid out for Delegates to the First Continental Congress, a set of grievances against British rule and the King, especially against his and Parliament’s response to the resistance movement in Boston agitated by the price of tea.  Jefferson declares that Parliament did not have the right to govern the American colonies, that, since their founding they had been independent of British rule.  Jefferson, in this work, held that allodial title, not feudal title, was held to American lands; thus the people did not owe fees and rents (property taxes) for that land to the British Government.

The work was presented to and debated by the First Continental Congress.  When this took place, Jefferson did not attend.  In the end, the members of the House agreed to a more moderate decision than Jefferson’s proposed concept. Despite not being able to completely convince Congress, friends of Jefferson printed the Summary in a pamphlet form which was distributed throughout London, New York and Philadelphia, and this tract “helped establish Jefferson’s reputation as a skillful, if radical, political writer.”[

Availability of this Book

A pdf of this 30-page book, actually a booklet, can be read at:

Amazon sells paper copies of the booklet, too.

Commentary on Thomas Jefferson

See our commentary on Jefferson at: