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Albany Plan of Union

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Benjamin Franklin 1767

Benjamin Franklin, author of the Albany Plan of Union.

The Albany Plan of Union was a proposed scheme of government for the British colonies of North America. Chiefly the work of Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, the Albany Plan was adopted by the delegates to the Albany Congress in June 1754.

Under the Albany Plan, the colonial assemblies would elect a total of 48 delegates to a Grand Council which would meet in Philadelphia, with initial representation as follows:


Colony Delegates
Massachusetts Bay 7
New Hampshire 2
Connecticut 5
Rhode Island 2
New York 4
New Jersey 3
Pennsylvania 6
Maryland 4
Virginia 7
North Carolina 4
South Carolina 4

Subsequently, representation on the Grand Council would be proportional to the amount of taxes paid by each colony to the Union government. The Grand Council would meet annually, with members paid ten shillings a day while in session and while traveling to and from Philadelphia. The Grand Council would have the power to elect its own speaker, and could not be dissolved, prorogued, or continued past six weeks without its own consent or by special command of the Crown. The members of the Grand Council would serve for three year terms.

The executive of the Union government would be the President-General, who would be appointed and supported by the Crown. The President-General's assent would be required for all acts of the Grand Council, and he would be responsible for carrying them out. The British Cabinet would have the power to veto any act of the Grand Council within three years of its passage.

The Union government would have the power to make treaties, declare war, make peace, and regulate trade with the Indians. It would have the power to pass laws and levy taxes on the colonies, and to appoint a General Treasurer and a Particular Treasurer for each colony who could appropriate funds from the colony's treasury to the Union treasury. It would have the power to purchase land from the Indians, and to establish settlements and make laws for the newly settled lands until they were organized into new colonies by the Crown. It would have the power to create a Union army and navy, and to appoint their officers.

The Board of Trade in London rejected the Albany Plan, fearing that the British government might be unable to control the Union. Those colonial assemblies who took notice of the Albany Plan also rejected it, since they were reluctant to surrender any of their power to a higher government. During the First Continental Congress of 1774, Joseph Galloway proposed a variant of the Albany Plan known as the Galloway Plan of Proposed Union, which the Congress declined to consider. The Albany Plan was the main source for the Britannic Design of 1781.

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