Summary of the Albany Plan of Union
The Albany Plan of Union was a proposal written by Benjamin Franklin and introduced during the Albany Congress, which was held in Albany, New York in 1754. Prior to the Albany Congress, Franklin wrote down his ideas for a union of the colonies, which he called “Short Hints.” He provided a copy to Congress but soon found out that union was not only on his mind but also the mind of others. He recalled years later that “It then appear’d that several of the Commissioners had form’d Plans of the same kind.”
Benjamin Franklin printed this political cartoon in his newspaper, the Pennsylvania Gazette on May 9, 1754. It called for the colonies to unite together in defense after French forces pushed Virginia militia out of the Ohio Country. Image Source: Library of Congress.
Purpose of the Albany Congress
The purpose of the Albany Congress was to have colonial leaders meet with representatives from the Six Nations to discuss how the colonies could work with them against the French. However, the idea of some type of organized union had taken hold with Franklin.
Purpose of the Albany Plan of Union
The purpose of the Albany Plan of Union was to create an organized partnership between the colonies, for threats or needs that impacted all of the colonies.
Key Points of the Albany Plan of Union
Franklin’s plan defined a permanent federation between the colonies, as a means to reform colonial-imperial relations and to more effectively address shared colonial interests, including making treaties, raising military forces, and levying taxes. The plan, as proposed by Franklin, proposed:
- A President General, appointed by the Crown.
- A Grand Council, consisting of delegates from the lower houses of the colonial assemblies.
- Each colony would have between two to seven delegates, based on the size of the colony.
- Each colony would have one vote, regardless of the number of delegates it sent.
Outcome of the Albany Plan of Union
The Albany Plan of Union was Approved by the Albany Congress
Franklin presented the plan to Congress on June 19. After debate and revisions, Congress unanimously adopted a final version on July 10.
The Albany Plan of Union was Rejected by the Colonies and Britain
Despite the support of those who attended the Albany Congress, the Albany Plan of Union was rejected by the Board of Trade and the individual colonial governments that considered its adoption.
Reasons for Rejecting the Plan
According to Franklin, the main reason the Albany Plan of Union was rejected was that “The colonial assemblies and most of the people were narrowly provincial in outlook, mutually jealous, and suspicious of any central taxing authority.”
Significance of the Albany Plan of Union
Franklin’s Albany Plan of Union is important because it marked the first official attempt to develop a confederation between the American colonies.
Effect on Galloway’s Plan of Union
The Albany Plan of Union also served as a model for the Galloway Plan of Union, which was proposed by Joseph Galloway during the First Continental Congress.
Albany Plan of Union — Quick Facts
- The Albany Congress was a conference called by British officials for the purpose of improving relations between the American colonies and the Iroquois Confederation.
- The Albany Congress met from June 19, 1754, through July 11, in Albany, New York.
- Representatives of seven colonies attended the Congress — Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.
- On June 19, Benjamin Franklin proposed the Albany Plan of Union to form a permanent federation of the colonies as a means to reform colonial-imperial relations and more effectively address shared colonial interests.
- Commissioners to the Albany Congress approved the Albany Plan of Union on July 10, 1754.
- The Albany Plan of Union was rejected by King George II and by all of the individual colonial governments that considered its adoption.
- The Albany Plan of Union was a significant milestone in American history, as it marked the first official attempt to develop inter-colonial cooperation among the American colonies.
Albany Plan of Union — Videos
Albany Plan of Union: Reading Through History
For more details on the Albany Plan of Union, see these primary source documents: