THE ALBANY PLAN, 1754

Background:

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French and Indian War by Felix Carr



Around the early 1750’s, tension between Britain and France had been rising for some time, as each side wanted to increase its land holdings in America. This tension would soon lead to the French and Indian wars. This conflict between England and France would last from 1756 to 1763, and left England the dominant power in the eastern United States and Canada.
Conflict between the Indians and the Northern British colonies rose once the Mohawk Indians in New York City declared their alliance broken due to land frauds and trading abuse. British officials were aware of the strains that war would put on the colonies, and they could not afford to lose their Indian allies in the Northern lands. Therefore, British officials advised the colonists to negotiate a treaty between themselves and the Iroquois Indians to ensure stability within America’s borders. This treaty would soon become known as the Albany Plan



The Convention:


From June 19th to July 11th, 1754, 21 Colonial delegates from seven colonies -Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland- met 150 Iroquois Indian chiefs in Albany in order to establish this treaty. The Albany Plan of Union was constructed primarily to create a more centralized government and to make peace with the Indians.
Prior to the Albany Convention, there had been discussion over centralizing the colonial governments. Imperial officals saw the advantages of bringing colonies under close authority and supervision, while colonists saw the need to organize and defend their individuality. One figure of emerging prominence among this group, who would have a lasting affect on the Federal government, was Pennsylvanian Benjamin Franklin.
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Benjamin Franklin


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Benjamin Franklin
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Franklin's political cartoon posted in the "Pennsylvania Gazette"

Upon hearing of the Albany congress, his newspaper, the Pennsylvania Gazette, published the
political cartoon 'Join or Die,' illustrating the importance of unity within the colonies by comparing the colonies to pieces of a snake's body. Without question, Franklin was chosen as the delegate to speak on behalf of Pennslyvania during the convention. During the convention, Benjamin Franklin proposed that “one general government” be set in up in America for all the colonies. Each colony could continue to enforce their own laws and regulations within their state, but the new general government would deal with more important issues such as all relations with the Indians. The central government would have a "president general" appointed and paid by the king and a legislature elected by the colonial assemblies. Aside from the general government, smaller issues such as finance, control of commerce, and defense would also be discussed throughout this convention.





Controversy and NATIONALISM


The plan was adopted by the convention but then rejected by the legislatures of the colonies. After the plan was unveiled, British officals did not comply because they knew this plan would lead to an uncontrolable entity. Benjamin Franklin, in response said, "Everyone cries, a union is neccessary, but when they come to the manner and form of the the union, their weak noodles are perfectly distracted." Although the plan itself was turned down, the convention has remarkable, nationalistic importance in United States History. The Albany plan was the first ever to gather all the colonies together to settle and issue. All the delegates arrived in Albany in hope to improve the country by strengthening the government. Each delegate showed their pride in their own country. Despite the convention's failure, it set a precedent for the later Continental Congress, which would become the governing body for the colonies during the American Revolution. Also, Franklin's plan would become a model for the Articles of Confederation, which served as one of our nation's first constitutions.






Bibliography


"Albany Plan of Union, 1754." Office of the Historian. US Department of State, n.d. Web. 9 Dec. 2012.

Brinkley, Alan. "Loosening Ties." American History: A Survey. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1991. 102-03. Print.

Franklin, Benjamin. "Albany Plan of Union." The American Revolution. Woodbridge, CT: Primary Source Media, 1999.
American Journey. Gale U.S. History In Context. Web. 9 Dec. 2012.

Roland, Jon. "Albany Plan of Union." Constituion.org. Constitution Society, 10 Aug. 1997. Web. 9 Dec. 2012.

Shannon, Timothy J. "Albany Plan of Union." Encyclopedia of the New American Nation. Ed. Paul Finkelman. Vol. 1.
Detroit: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2006. 48-49. Gale U.S. History In Context. Web. 9 Dec. 2012.