Albany Plan of Union — the First Attempt to Unify the Colonies

1754

The Albany Plan of Union was proposed by Benjamin Franklin and called for the formation of a permanent federation of the American colonies.

Benjamin Franklin, Portrait, Duplessis

Benjamin Franklin presented his “Short Hints” to the members of the Albany Congress, which led to the Albany Plan of Union. Image Source: Wikipedia.

Albany Plan of Union Summary

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.”

Colonial leaders, under instructions from Great Britain, met with representatives from the Iroquois Confederacy — the Six Nations — to discuss the restoration of their alliance — known as the Covenant Chain — and how they could work together against a growing threat from the French. After the meetings with the Six Nations concluded, Franklin presented his ideas.

He provided a copy to Congress but soon found out that union was not only on his mind but also the mind of others, including Thomas Hutchinson of Massachusetts. He recalled years later that “It then appear’d that several of the Commissioners had form’d Plans of the same kind.”

The members of Congress adopted the plan, but it was rejected by the colonial legislatures and British officials. However, it marked the first time that colonies from different regions considered the organization of a unified colonial government.

Join Or Die, Political Cartoon, Benjamin Franklin
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.

Albany Plan of Union Facts

  1. The Albany Congress was a conference called by British officials for the purpose of improving relations between the American colonies and the Iroquois Confederation.
  2. The Albany Congress met from June 19, 1754, through July 11, in Albany, New York.
  3. Representatives of seven colonies attended the Congress — Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.
  4. 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.
  5. Commissioners to the Albany Congress approved the Albany Plan of Union on July 10, 1754.
  6. The Albany Plan of Union was rejected by King George II and by all of the individual colonial governments that considered its adoption.
  7. 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 Purpose

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.

Thomas Hutchinson, Portrait
Thomas Hutchinson was involved in developing the final version of the Albany Plan of Union. Image Source: Wikipedia.

Albany Plan of Union Key Points

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.

Albany Plan of Union Outcome

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.”

Albany Plan of Union Significance

Franklin’s Albany Plan of Union is important because it marked the first official attempt to develop a confederation between the American colonies.

Albany Plan of Union and 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 APUSH Notes and Study Guide

Use the following links and videos to study the Albany Plan of Union, the Colonial Era, and the French and Indian War for the AP US History Exam. Also, be sure to look at our Guide to the AP US History Exam.

Albany Plan of Union APUSH Definition

The Albany Plan of Union was a proposal for a unified government of the British colonies in North America. It was presented at the Albany Congress in 1754, a meeting of representatives from several colonies called by the British government in an attempt to improve relations with Native American tribes and defend against the French. The plan was rejected by British officials, but it influenced later discussions of colonial unity and was an early example of intercolonial cooperation.

Albany Plan of Union Video for APUSH Notes

This video from Hip Hughes provides an explanation and overview of the Albany Plan of Union for the AP US History Exam.

Albany Plan of Union Primary Sources

For more details on the Albany Plan of Union, see these primary source documents:

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations, including APA Style, Chicago Style, and MLA Style.

  • Article Title Albany Plan of Union — the First Attempt to Unify the Colonies
  • Date 1754
  • Author
  • Keywords Albany Plan of Union, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Hutchinson, Albany Plan of Union Timeline, Albany Plan of Union APUSH
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date April 16, 2024
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update February 10, 2024

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