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theodore atkinson

Albany Congress

The Albany Congress, also known as the Albany Conference, was a meeting of representatives of seven of the British North American colonies in 1754 (specifically, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island). Representatives met daily at Albany, New York from June 19 to July 11 to discuss better relations with the Indian tribes and common defensive measures against the French.

The Congress is notable for producing Benjamin Franklin's Albany Plan of Union, an early attempt to form a union of the colonies that would remain under the authority of the British crown. Part of the Albany Plan was used in writing the Articles of Confederation, which kept the States together from 1781 until the Constitution. It was the first time that all the colonies had been together.

Defensive Measures

They concluded a treaty with the tribes represented, but failed to renew the Covenant Chain. The treaty failed to secure peace with all the Native American tribes during the French and Indian War.

For the common defence, it was proposed that two forts be built in Iroquois territory, and that three others be raised around Crown Point to stop an invasion from Canada. As had happened in the past, the colonies were unwilling to share the cost or the centralized planning that would be required.

Plan of Union

Benjamin Franklin proposed a plan for uniting the seven colonies that greatly exceeded the scope of the congress. However, after considerable debate, and modifications proposed by Thomas Hutchinson, who would later become Governor of Massachusetts, it passed unanimously. The plan was submitted as a recommendation but was rejected by both King George II and the legislatures of the individual seven colonies since it would remove some of their existing powers.

The Union was planned to include all the British North American colonies, except Delaware and Georgia. The plan called for a single executive (President-General) to be appointed by the King, who would be responsible for Indian relations, military preparedness, and execution of laws regulating various trade and financial activities. It called for a Grand Council to be selected by the colonial legislatures where the number of delegates would be based on the taxes paid by each colony. Even though rejected, some features of this plan were later adopted in the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution.

Benjamin Franklin said of the plan in 1789:

On Reflection it now seems probable, that if the foregoing Plan or some thing like it, had been adopted and carried into Execution, the subsequent Separation of the Colonies from the Mother Country might not so soon have happened, nor the Mischiefs suffered on both sides have occurred, perhaps during another Century. For the Colonies, if so united, would have really been, as they then thought themselves, sufficient to their own Defence, and being trusted with it, as by the Plan, an Army from Britain, for that purpose would have been unnecessary: The Pretences for framing the Stamp-Act would not then have existed, nor the other Projects for drawing a Revenue from America to Britain by Acts of Parliament, which were the Cause of the Breach, and attended with such terrible Expence of Blood and Treasure: so that the different Parts of the Empire might still have remained in Peace and Union.

Participants

In addition to the Iroquois, twenty-one representatives of New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Hampshire attended the Congress. James DeLancey, acting Governor of New York, as host governor, was the Chairman. Peter Wraxall served as Secretary to the Congress.

Delegates included:

An apparently complete list is given at Early Recognized Treaties With American Indian Nations

See also

References

  • Bonomi, Patricia, A Factious People, Politics and Society in Colonial America, 1971, ISBN 0231035098
  • Timothy J. Shannon, Indians and Colonists at the Crossroads of Empire: The Albany Congress of 1754 (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 2000).

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