Albany Plan of Union

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The Albany Plan of Union was developed and presented by Benjamin Franklin in 1754 at the Albany Congress meeting in Albany, New York. Franklin proposed that the Thirteen Colonies of British America unite to form a federal government. The goal was to defend them against France when the colonies faced the threat of war—the French and Indian War. The colonies would go on to reject the plan, however, it was one of several tools useful in finalizing both the Articles of Confederation and ultimately the Constitution.

While Franklin thought of himself as a loyal subject, and was comfortable with monarchy and aritocracy, he did express an emerging sense of Americanism. In 1753, London promoted Franklin to the position of Deputy Postmaster for the Colonies. The industrious Franklin, who frequently took inspection tours throughout the colonies, revamped the postal system to be more efficient, speeding up delivery times and creating the home delivery system. From visiting the colonies first hand, coupled with the increasing need for frontier defense, Franklin realized that some form of unification of the colonies was necessary. In June 1754, a conference was called by the London Board of Trade to meet in Albany, New York to discuss a more unified defense. He proposed the "Albany Plan of Union", which would have united the colonies under a royal governor, and given the colonies the power to tax themselves. Delegates from several colonies had come together to discuss ways to restore harmonious relations with the Indians but soon found themselves debating Franklin's plan of union, which would have created a unified colonial entity. The Plan was approved by the conference but was unanimously rejected by the colonial assemblies and by London. It was twenty years too soon for the colonies to give up their smug complacency and dependence upon London, rather than each other. In 1754 colonists assumed Britain was a benevolent empire run for the benefit of colonists, but within twenty years realized their error. The Albany plan formed much of the basis for the later American governments established by the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution.