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Great Documents in American History

The Albany Plan of Union -- Part 1

The French and Indian War threatened the security of the English Colonies in America. A meeting at Albany, New York, was called in 1754, to help unite the colonies and to create a treaty with the Iroqouis Confederacy to provide for the future protection of the English Americans. Here, at the Albany meeting, Benjamin Franklin presented a proposal he had developed that would create a self-governing entity of the colonies, that was still part of the British Empire. Ultimately, even though his plan was rejected by the King and the colonies, it and he influenced the other, future creators of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the U.S. 


July 10, 1754 

It is proposed that humble application be made for an Act of Parliament of Great Britain, by virtue of which one general government may be formed in America, including all the . . . colonies, within and under which government each colony may retain its present constitution, except in the particulars wherein a change may be directed by the said Act, as hereafter follows.
1. That the general government be administered by a president-general, to be appointed and supported by the crown; and a Grand Council, to be chosen by the representatives of the people of the several colonies . . . in their respective assemblies.
2. That within ___ months after the passing of such an act, the House of Representatives in each of the colonies that happen to be sitting within that time or that shall be especially convened, may and shall choose members for the Grand Council, in the following proportion:

Massachusetts Bay - 7 
Pennsylvania - 6 
New Hampshire - 2
Maryland - 4 
Connecticut - 5 
Virginia - 7
Rhode Island - 2
N. Carolina - 4
New York - 4 
S. Carolina - 4
New Jersey - 3
Total: 48

3. Who shall meet for the first time at the city of Philadelphia, being called by the President-General as soon as conveniently may be after his appointment.
4. That there shall be a new election of the members of the Grand Council every three years;
5. That after the first three years, when the proportion of money arising out of each colony to the general treasury can be known, the number of members to be chosen for each colony shall, from time to time, in all ensuing elections, be regulated by that proportion, yet the number to be chosen by any one province shall be not more than seven nor less than two.
6. That the Grand Council shall meet once in every year, and oftener if occasion require or as they shall be called to meet by the President-General on any emergency; he having first obtained in writing the consent of seven of the members to such call, and sent timely notice to the whole.
7. That the Grand Council have power to choose their speaker; and shall neither be dissolved, closed for that session nor continued in session longer than six weeks at one time, without their own consent or the special command of the crown.
8. That the assent of the President-General be requisite to all acts of the Grand Council, and that it be his office and duty to cause them to be carried into execution.
9. That the President-General, with the advice of the Grand Council, hold or direct all Indian treaties, in which the general interest of the colonies may be concerned; and make peace or declare war with Indian nations.
10. That they make such laws as they judge necessary for regulating all Indian trade.
11. That they make all purchases from Indians, for the crown, of lands not now within the bounds of particular colonies.
12. That they make new settlements on such purchases, by granting lands in the King’s name, reserving a quitrent1 to the crown for the use of the general treasury. (1/ A quitrent is a fixed sum paid annually by the owners of land to the one who gave them or sold them the land.) 
13. That they make laws for regulating and governing such new settlements, till the crown shall think fit to form them into particular governments.
14. That they raise and pay soldiers and build forts for the defense of any of the colonies, and equip vessels of force to guard the coasts and protect the trade on the ocean, lakes or great rivers; but they shall not force into military service men in any colony without the consent of the legislature.
Please see the conclusion of this seminal American document in the next issue of The Link.