The Albany Plan for Union (1754)


In 1754, delegates from seven of the 13 British colonies in North America met in Albany, New York. They passed a proposal for a ‘continental American government’, an idea furthered by Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Hutchinson. The Albany Plan was sent to the colonial legislatures and the British parliament, none of whom supported it:


“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 said colonies, within and under which government each colony may retain its present constitution, except wherein a change may be directed by the said act…

That the said 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 met in their respective assemblies…

That the Grand Council shall meet once in every year, and oftener if occasion require, at such time and place as they shall adjourn to at the last preceding meeting, or as they shall be called to meet at by the PresidentGeneral on any emergency; he having first obtained in writing the consent of seven of the members to such call, and sent duly and timely notice to the whole…

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.

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.

That they make all purchases from Indians, for the crown, of lands not now within the bounds of particular Colonies, or that shall not be within their bounds when some of them are reduced to more convenient dimensions.

That they make new settlements on such purchases, by granting lands in the King’s name, reserving a quitrent to the crown for the use of the general treasury…

That they make laws for regulating and governing such new settlements, till the crown shall think fit to form them into particular governments…

That they raise and pay soldiers and build forts for the defence 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 impress men in any Colony, without the consent of the Legislature…

That the particular military as well as civil establishments in each Colony remain in their present state, the general constitution notwithstanding; and that on sudden emergencies any Colony may defend itself, and lay the accounts of expense thence arising before the President-General and General Council, who may allow and order payment of the same, as far as they judge such accounts just and reasonable.”