Plans for a Unified Military Command
We may think of the Albany Plan as the first attempt to create a politico-military union among the colonies, but before the Albany Plan was proposed there were several schemes for colonial union proposed between 1643 and 1754. Most of these were schemes for regional integration, rather than plans for full inter-colonial military, political, economic and social cooperation. The separate founding of the colonies, coupled with difficulties of travel, prevented effective Union until the Revolution. However, many proposals for union had grown out of the many common problems faced by the Colonies. The most continually aggravating problem was that of frontier defense against Amerindian attack. Rivalry with the Swedes, Dutch Spanish and French exacerbated this problem. Trade and boundary disputes emphasized the need for a common arbitrator. A common culture, mores, folkways, customs, religion, ethnic origin, traditions and allegiance provided a reasonable basis for unity. Moreover, the English home government, desiring to make the colonies a more effective unit for imperial trade and defense, in some cases, encouraged several plans for union. These plans varied widely in origin and design. There was no common agreement on the number of the American colonies to be included.
Colonial military policy had developed along relatively simplistic lines. The colonial militias would take on the responsibility of guarding the frontiers against the Amerindians. There would be no standing armies within the colonies. Ordinarily, colonists or their legislatures attended to the selection of colonial officers. Militia funding was the responsibility of colonial legislatures. Military units existed only as long as a crisis existed; permanent military systems were unacceptable. When there was a larger operation, British naval and military power would be brought to bear. In larger campaigns the militia would be merged with regular British forces. Militia might come under British command at any point. While militia need not serve beyond the boundaries of the colonies, British authorities could draft militiamen into service abroad.
The United Colonies of New England was a practical plan which actually existed between 1643 and 1684. Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, Connecticut and New Haven were united in a league largely for frontier defense. It was replaced by the Dominion of New England in 1688. The British Crown superimposed this plan upon the members by making Sir Edmund Andros Governor general of all the New England colonies, New York, East and West Jersey. New England maintained for a period of forty years its "Confederation." Between 1643 and 1662 the members were Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, Connecticut and New Haven. Between 1662 and 1684 New Haven, having been incorporated into Connecticut, disappeared from the records as a partner. This early system had functioned fairly effectively under the acknowledged primacy of the government of Massachusetts Bay, in the requisitioning of men and money upon the member colonies when action was required. Moreover, the Plan adhered scrupulously to the requisition principle and in its scope scarcely went beyond the New England concert of King George's War, which under the primacy of Massachusetts Bay had to its credit the capture of the great fortress of Louisbourg.
The Inter colonial Congress, which existed between 1689 91, included New York, Massachusetts, Plymouth and Connecticut. These colonies entered into a temporary military league for frontier defense.
William Penn's Briefe and Plaine Scheam for union was written in 1697. Penn's proposal for a loose confederation grew out of the conditions prevailing during King William's War. This was an odd work especially considering the general opposition to war and military establishment espoused by the Society of Friends; and in view of the Quaker opposition to the passage of a militia act.
Another plan of union was proposed under the Earl of Bellomont. Bellomont served between 1698 and 1701 as governor of New York, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. He was also commander of the military forces of those colonies and of the forces of the provinces of Connecticut, Rhode Island and the Jerseys. The Crown appointed Bellomont to this large command because of colonial failure to co operate in defense. It hoped that a strong over lord might superimpose military union and full cooperation among the several militias in defense of the frontiers.
Governor Hamilton's Plan of 1699 was based on the production of supplies for the Royal Navy which would then guard against the designs of the French. He also proposed the construction of many strong strategic fortified positions and strong holds along the frontier. These static fortifications would prevent the incursion of large French, Indian or mixed forces. Military defensive positions were to be planned, designed, executed and built under the direction of British regular military engineers. Hamilton thought that previous fortified positions had failed because colonials were poor engineers and builders and had not the dedication, skill or will to build impregnable forts. Colonial log forts deteriorated too quickly. Hamilton made his proposals while he was serving as deputy governor of Pennsylvania. His proposal included provision for an inter colonial assembly with the power to levy a poll tax to finance his several projects.
A Virginian's Plan of Union of 1701, was an anonymous publication issued in London which advocated abolishing all the proprietary governments and uniting the colonies under an inter colonial Congress and governor general. This plan was more political and administrative in conception than military, except that a unified colonial administration would have a unified military command. Unified command would include universal imposition of the Mutiny Act and brutal, but highly effective, martial law and military discipline.
Robert Livingston's proposed his quite incomplete scheme for military union in 1701. In a letter to the Lords of Trade, Livingston proposed that the colonies be grouped into three military administrative units, which would be coordinated by the Council of Trade for frontier defense. Again, British discipline and thorough administration would replace local discipline which nearly all agreed was quite lax as compared with standard British discipline. Livingston was principally concern¢d with the scarcity of militia training standards and armament. Queen Anne's War provided an excellent opportunity for inter colonial military cooperation, as well as full cooperation between colonies and mother country. Beginning in 1708 Governor Vetch and others thought that a major joint venture against Quebec was being planned. But the home office changed its objective from Quebec to Port Royal. Intercolonial cooperation was quickly abandoned. Vetch called a conference at Rehoboth, Rhode Island, but New York declined to attend and the delegates from Massachusetts Bay, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Rhode Island settled for the simple expedient of sending a petition to the queen asking for an assault on Quebec. Five hundred British marines easily captured the under manned fort at Port Royal, with colonials have little role in the action. Vetch assumed political control over the area and thoughts of formal military alliances were forgotten.
All plans for military cooperation and unity called for a centralized authority and some sort of permanent military force. The colonists might have tolerated a substantial British force in America, if the troops had been dispersed to the distant frontiers. But the British government did not want to bear this added expense. British troops permanently stationed in the American colonies during Queen Anne's War consisted only of four companies of one hundred men each. Their mission was to block the invasion routes along the Mohawk and Champlain valleys. The British government under supported, even neglected and ignored, these troops. Professor John Shy noted that, at the end of Queen Anne's War, the crown considered maintaining troops in the colonies, but only if three conditions existed: (1) inability of a particular colony or cluster of colonies to offer sufficient defense without outside help; (2) definite strategic or financial value accrued to the crown; and (3) the colonial authorities would cooperate by paying part of the costs of maintaining the garrisons.lxxiii
The importance of friendship between the English and the Indians of the Six Nations, along with the Indians' dependence upon the Crown of Great Britain were two important points in the Treaty of Utrecht of 11 April 1713. An effort was made at this Treaty to have the Indians of the Six Nations acknowledged by French to be subject to the Dominion of Great Britain. One provision of the treaty was that "the French shall give no hindrance or molestation either to them, or the other natives of America, who were friends of the English.lxxiv The Treaty further stipulated that the subjects of both monarchies would be permitted to come and go freely and to trade as they wished and that the natives should also have the same freedom to move freely between the British and French colonies so as to promote trade on both sides. Some of the colonists, having been aware of the arrangement agreed to at the Treaty of Utrecht, became concerned when a considerable number of French "settled on a Carrying Place, made use of by the several Indian Tribes inhabiting that part of the country . . . which separated the Head of the Kennebeck River from that of the River Chandiere . . . ."lxxv Some colonists became even more alarmed when they also learned that the Norredgwalk Indians "had given the new French settlers upon the Carry Place liberty to hunt any where in that Country."lxxvi This gave rise for concern because it threatened "to disturb the tranquility of the British Provinces."lxxvii Both Great Britain and the colonists wanted the Indians to remain dependent upon the Crown, for such dependency was an effective bargaining tool.
Not until 1721 did the crown send other regular army units to the colonies. In that year the Board of Trade authorized the deployment of eight infantry regiments on the frontier of New York, Virginia, and the Carolinas. The only other regular British troops stationed in America on a permanent basis were a few companies in the New York garrisons .Additionally, there were one hundred "invalids" in South Carolina. Invalids were pensioners who had been relieved from active duty because of infirmity, age or disability, and could be used only in case of dire emergency.lxxviii
In reality, the principal factor mitigating against a general military establishment was the establishment of a general overall authority in the person of a captain general. Such an authority was designed to serve as commander in chief of all militia forces, at least during war time, on a permanent basis. This concept was anathema to the independent American colonists who loathed the idea of any standing army existing in peacetime. Nevertheless, the English authorities secretly harbored a plan for creating a captain general with command over all the militias of all the colonies. Governors Nicholson and Hunter offered their support and endorsement to the plan. After Queen Anne's War this idea of centralized military authority was repeated over and again in the recommendations of and to the Board of Trade.
The Earl of Stair in 1721 submitted to the Board of Trade another plan for administrative and military union. Stair's plan included all the continental colonies and the British West Indies in a single military command under a single system of military hierarchy, discipline and command. The system was to be chaired by a governor in chief who was to be appointed by the crown. An advisory council of two members from each colony was to assist this official. The governor and his council could levy assessments against the colonies for defense purposes, although the legislature in each colony was free to decide the exact type of tax which would be levied to fulfill its assessed obligation. The scheme was to be established by action of the British Parliament.
The Lords of Trade proposed their own plan in 1721 which was outlined in a report given directly to the king. In its essentials, it was drawn from the Earl of Stair's proposal.
Daniel Coxe's offered his plan in 1722 which appeared in a book on world travel published in London. Coxe proposed a union of all the continental colonies under one governor, although there would still be a lieutenant governor representing the king in each colony. The principal obligations of the over lord governor would be military in nature. He would recruit, pay and train the basic standing military force and provide standards for militia training and armament. A great council composed of two delegates from each colony was to advise the governor. It would also make decisions concerning the provisioning of the army and the drafting of men needed for the standing colonial defense force.
The Kennedy Franklin Plan of 1751, was the joint effort of Archibald Kennedy, receiver general of New York, and newspaper editor and statesman Benjamin Franklin. In a pamphlet dealing with Indian trade and frontier defense, they proposed a unified system of frontier defense. Doubtless, Franklin was seeking a method of forcing Pennsylvania to pass a militia law and to form a militia force. If the state legislature could not be convinced to act on its own in these matters then superimposition from outside might present the only feasible alternative to force the issue. The system was more oriented toward a militia system than the other later plans which had a strong element of a standing army to them. These military forces were to be directed by a superintendent to be assigned to the colonies by commissioners representing the colonial assemblies. Benjamin Franklin added some additional details in his later Albany Plan.
The following proposal, dated 1747, is one of the more practical as well as feasible and complete plans offered before the Albany Plan.
At a meeting of the Commissioners of the Several Governments of the Massachusetts Bay New York and Connecticut, at the City of New York, in order to concert and Agree upon some general Measures for carrying on the war against the common Enemy and for the Mutual defense and Security of his Majestys British Provinces and Colonys on ye Continent in North America, it is Judged after Mature consideration had of the present distressing circumstances of these three Colonys and thereupon the said Commissioners agree to Report to their Respective Constituants that they Unanimously are of opinion
1. That an Expedition be formed and carryed on against ye French Fort at Crown Point for the Reduction of that Fortress.
2. That it will be necessary that four thousand men (officers included) be raised (with as many of ye Six Nations of Indians and their allies as can be Obtained) to carry on the Said Expedition, and that it will be Necessary those troops be at Albany by the fifteenth of April Next Ready to March for the aforesaid purpose.
3. That as the Engaging the six Nations and their Allies in this and other Services against the Common Enemy, is of great importance to the British Governments, it is Judged Necessary that such of ye Indians as shall Engage in the said Expedition and go into the Service be Equipt Each with necessarys to ye value of five pounds New York currency, and be assured of a present of ye like value on their Return in case of Success.
4. That as a further means of Securing and Engaging the said Indians in the Service of the English and to prevent their being Seduced to Revolt to ye French, it is agreed that it be proposed to Each of ye said Governments that a Gunsmith be Sent to Each of ye Tribes following viz: the Oniades, Onandagas, Cayugas, and Senecas, and two men with Each Gunsmith to continue with them untill the Next Spring and that ye said persons be instructed to be as oblidging as may be to ye Indians with whom they live and converse and do all in their power to Establish and increase ye interest of ye English with them and from time to time Advise ye Governments of any thing they Shall observe Necessary or that ye Indians may want or desire to be done for yt purpose and that there be purchased Suitable goods to ye value of three hundred and Sixty pounds New York currency to be put into the hands of said Smiths (or of one of ye men who go with them Respectively) to be given to the Several Nations aforesaid (Except Sixty pounds thereof to be put into the hands of Some Suitable person for the Mohawks) to be Distributed as follows viz. one hundred and twenty pounds to the Senecas, Sixty pounds to the Oniades & Tuscarora's, Sixty pounds to the Cayuga's, and Sixty pounds to ye Onandaga's and that ye Several persons Render an account upon Oath of ye Disposition of ye Said goods to ye Respective Governments and that ye Charges of ye Said Smiths and others attending them as also ye Said three hundred and Sixty pounds be born and paid in the proportion following, viz., the Massachusetts Pay Nine twentyeth parts, New York Eight twentyeths and Connecticut three twentyeths, but these proportions not to be drawn into precedent upon any other occasion hereafter.
5. That (besides what Governour Clinton has Assured the Commissioners Shall be Supplyed gratis of ye battoes cannon and warlike Stores and implements in the Province of New York provided at his Majestys Expence) the General and common Expence Necessary for Engaging and Rewarding the Indians paying the officers of ye Train of artiliry and for ye Common Store of Shot gun powder and other Military preparations Necessary for ye common Service be provided by and at the Charge of ye Governments Engaging in this Service and that the proportions and Quotas of the Governments for these Services as well as ye keeping and Supporting the Garrison (if Reduced) until his Majesty's pleasure be known be as above mentioned & that whatsoever part or proportion either of men or money any other Governments Shall undertake to bear and furnish Shall lessen the parts of these three Governments according to the aforesaid proportion and that ye legislatures of Each Government Engaging in this Enterprize Raise Equip provide for Subsist and pay their own troops as also appoint Commissarys to take care of their own Stores. Saving that the Govemment of New York be not oblidged to raise above twelve hundred men the Massachusetts Commissioners agreeing to propose to their Constituants to Raise four hundred men to compleat ye proportion of New York the officers to be Commissioned by ye Governour of ye Said Government undertaking to provide the Same and both officers and Souldiers of Said four hundred men to Receive ye Same bounty wages Subsistance and Every other thing from ye Government of New York which Shall be given or paid by Said Government of New York to a like proportion of the twelve hundred men they Shall raise for said Expedition.
6. That the Governours of ye Massachusets bay New York and Connecticut be desired to appoint and Commission the three General Officers for the Said Expedition.
7. That Each Government appoint a Committee of one or more persons to Meet at Middletown in Connecticut on the Eleventh day of December Next or as Soon after as may be in order to Determine and ascertain the particulars Necessary to be provided at ye Common Charge of ye Governments and also to agree what particular Sorts or Species of ye Said particulars Each Government Shall undertake to provide having Regard to Said proportion.
8. That ye Commissioners here present having made Report to their Respective Constituants of what measures are hereby agreed upon the Governours of ye Massachusets bay, New York and Connecticut be Desired by ye Respective Assemblys of these Governments to apply to ye Governours of the Several other provinces and Colonys from Virginia to New Hampshire inclusive to recommend it to their Several assemblys fully to Joyn according and in proportion to their ability in this common undertaking against his Majestys Enemys and to unite with these Governments in the Mutual Defence and Security of his Majestys Colonys on the Continent in North America; and particularly Desiring them to Send their committee to Meet at Middletown aforesd to Engage in this undertaking and to agree upon what part they Respectively will provide of Men, Money and Common Stores necessary for the Engaging and Encouraging the Indians and for ye Carrying on ye Said Expedition also Requesting as Speedy an Answer as may be to ye Governours of these Governments Respectively of what their Several Governments will undertake in this important Enterprize.
9. That in the mean time while ye preparations are making for ye proposed Expedition application be made to his Majesty by ye Legislatures of Each of these Governments for Such a Naval force as may be sufficient to go up ye River Saint Lawrance and either divert or Subdue that part of ye Country and in case of an assurance of a Sufficiency to command the river and attack ye fortresses there and that it be his Majestys pleasure the Expedition be carryed on against Canada that then ye preparations and Necessarys designed more immediately for an Expedition against Crown Point be imployed and carryed on against Canada for the Reduction of the same with Such additional force as can be raised; and in that case that application at ye Same time be made as aforesaid that ye Quotas of the Several Governments be Setled and that those who are deficient be injoined to furnish the Same.
10. That in case the other Governments who have not Sent their Commissioners to this meeting to Concert measures for ye common good of his Majestys Subjects Shall after application made to them as before proposed and Notice of these conclusions and approbation thereof by these Governments Shall neglect or refuse to Joyn them in these important affairs for ye mutual defence and Security of his Majestys Subjects and interest that then application be made as aforesaid for ye Royal injunctions to be laid on ye several deficient Governments to furnish and provide their proportion and Quotas of Men & Money necessary for ye future general defence and Security of his Majestys Colonys and for ye Carrying on any proper Scheem for ye Annoyance of ye common Enemy.
11. That in case the proposed Expedition against Crown Point only go forward and no Ships of war are Sent by his Majesty to go up the River St. Lawrance for ye purpose aforesaid then a Diversion be made up said River with what vessels can be obtained from the several Governments at ye charge of ye said Governments and in conjunction with such of his Majestys Ships of war as can be procured at Lewisburgh or elsewhere and that a diversion by land be made by the direction and under the conduct of ye general officers by such of ye forces of Christians and Indians as Shall by said officers on proper encouragement be Sent out for yt purpose.
12. That the vessels goods Stores and other things sent or that shall go thro any part of the Government of New York for the forces imployed in the aforementioned and proposed Service or in garrisoning the said Fortress be free and exempt from all toll, tribute, custom and duty that is or might be imported on Such Materials by virtue of any act of ye Government of New York.
13. That if it Shall happen that the proposed expeditions Shall neither of them be carryed on the Next year or if by reason of any other Events it shall be found Necessary for the defence of his Majestys Subjects and annoying the Enemy to Send out and Maintain Scouts or Rangers that then the Governments of ye Massachusets bay, New York and Connecticut send out on proper encouragement such a number of men respectively as they Shall Judge a proportion for them in order to defend the borders of the Exposed Settlements and to annoy and distress the French and Enemy Indians in their Settlements, and in this Service to Joyn with such of ye Six Nations of Indians and their allies as will go on that design; and that ye other Governments of New Jersey, Pensilvania, Maryland, Virginia, New Hampshire and Rhoad Island be applyed to, to furnish provide and bear their proportion in men, Money or other Necessarys for the encouragement and Support of Such Scouts or Rangers and that Each Government providing and sending out such Scouts or Rangers Receive the benefit of such money or other necessarys as Shall be afforded by the other Governments not sending men, in proportion to the number of men they shall Respectively imploy in said Service.
14. That in case any attack or invasion Shall be made by the Enemy on any one or more of his Majestys Governments and application be made to any other Government for assistance, that ye Same be Speedily afforded according to the necessity and Circumstances of the case; the Subsistance only being provided by and at the Charge of the Government Requesting and receiving Such Succors. And if either of the Governments receive any intelligence of an Enemy approaching either by Sea or Land who may in danger any one or more of the other Governments that they give them the earliest Notice possible thereof by Express.
15. That the Legislatures of these three Colonys be Desired to Determine upon this agreement with all the dispatch possible and when done that each Government do signify the same to the others as soon as may be.
16. The Large numbers of men and great charges consequent thereupon as above have been come into by the Commissioners, by reason of the Distressing Circumstances of these Governments, Notwithstanding the full perswasion of the Commissioners that these burdens must be beyond the ability of said Governments if continued, they being almost constantly harrassed by invasions or incursions in their borders from the French and their Indians for Near five hundred miles an End and many of their Settlements already broken up and destroyed and divers others in the most imminent danger the case being Such that if these Governments do not lay these heavy burdens on themselves (under which, if they are not relieved, they must Sink) they must be much Sooner destroyed by their inhuman Enemys above said who are exceedingly Supported Spirited and advantaged by the abovesaid Crown Point Fort. The Commissioners being Sensible that it is as truly unreason able and Destructive to these Governments to Supply all the men and Money Necessary to defend his Majestys Subjects and interest in North america as it would be for a Small part of ye Nation to be at ye Expence of Defending the whole There being diverse more wealthy and populous Governments than we are who have been and are
defended by us and therefore in all reason ought to bear their proportion of the common defense both with men and Money.
17. The above articles we agree to recommend to and in all proper ways to Endeavour they may be ratified by the Governments to which we respectively belong none of which Shall be obligatory on any of the three Governments but Such as Shall be ratified by all. In Testimony whereof we have Signed triplicates of these presents at ye City of New York this twenty Eighth day of September in the twenty first year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord George the Second of Great Britain, France and Ireland King &c; Annoque Domini, one thousand Seven hundred and fourty Seven.lxxix
The first Albany scheme for colonial union dates to 1750 51. Governor George Clinton, in a circular letter of December 18, 1750 to all English colonial governors, invited the them to a congress at Albany to meet with the Six Nations at a major conference to be held in June 1751. On 13 April 1751 Clinton renewed his proposal. He suggested that the commissioners draw up "a state of Indian Affairs to be laid before His Majesty" and also possibly a representation to the Governor General of Canada.lxxx Clinton repeated his invitation in April when he invited specifically Governors Wentworth, Phips, Hamilton, Glen, Johnson, Ogle, Belcher, Wolcott, and the "President of Virginia."lxxxi Discussion ensued over the proper meeting place. Glen favored a site in Virginia. Meanwhile, the various governors expressed disgust over the dilatoriness of the assemblies to take action. This political maneuvering delayed the opening of the conference. Most of the assemblies probably balked because Clinton had requested that each colony provide presents for the Indians at the conferences.lxxxii By June, Clinton announced that governors of all the colonies, except Virginia which had not yet replied, approved an intercolonial convention on Amerindian policy.
Meanwhile, French policy succeeded in igniting a war between the Iroquois and their traditional enemies, the Catawba nation. Thomas Lee, the acting Governor of Virginia, and Governor Glen of South Carolina laid the groundwork for a peace treaty to be held at Fredericksburg in the summer of 1751. Governor Hamilton of Pennsylvania agreed to attend this conference. Nonetheless, Clinton proceeded to arrange his conference, to be held at the same time. The Iroquois refused to go to Fredericksburg.lxxxiii When the first Albany congress convened on July 6, 1751, four colonies were represented: New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and South Carolina. William Bull and six Catawba Indians represented South Carolina. Also attending were the mayor and corporation of Albany and several officers of the Independent companies in New York. The meeting opened with a pledge "to renew the Covenant Chain, to cleanse away all Rust, to brighten it, and strengthen it so that it may forever endure . . . ." In reality, nothing decisive emerged from the conference. Clinton offered the unusual suggestion of sending missionaries among the Six Nations. The colonial emissaries met this suggestion with icy silence since the implementation of the suggestion required legislative funding.lxxxiv The first Albany conference of 1751 did not result in any great improvement in Indian affairs. Most significant was that, for the first time, South Carolina was represented in a northern inter colonial conference. Most colonial governors favored the idea of having some unified agency to deal with the Indians. In fact, the need to coordinate Indian policy was the primary reason for the general participation in the second and principal Albany Congress. Jonathan Belcher, Governor of New Jersey, had heretofore never shown much interest in Indian affairs. However, Belcher indicated that "the Alliance and Friendship of the Six Nations and their Dependance on the Crown of Great Britain must by every thinking Man be looked upon as the greatest Security the Settlers on the Northern Boundary of this Province can have to prevent the Incursions of those Nations of Indians . . . ."lxxxv For his part, Governor William Shirley expressed optimism for the outcome of an intercolonial Indian conference. "Such an Union of Councils," Shirley wrote, "besides the happy Effect it will probably have upon the Indians of the Six Nations, may lay a Foundation for a general one among all his Majesty's Colonies, for the mutual Support and Defence against the present dangerous Enterprizes of the French on every Side of them.lxxxvi
Virginia began building fortifications on the Forks of Ohio in order to check this encroachment by the French and to protect the Indians in alliance with Great Britain. Virginia felt the costs incurred in fortification should be borne by all the colonies in proportion to the advantage they received.lxxxvii Virginia felt justified in making this request because of what had been conveyed upon the colonies through the Earl of Holdernefs. The earl conveyed the sentiments of the king and council "that . . . all his provinces in America should be aiding and assisting each other [and] in case of invasion you should keep up . . . correspondence with all his Majesty's Governors . . and in case you shall be informed . . . of any hostile attempts, you are . . . to assemble the general assembly within your government, and lay before them the necessity of a mutual assistance, and . . . grant such supplies as the exigency affairs may require."lxxxviii
There was much dissension among the colonies regarding the prospect of assisting one another. Most colonies were struggling financially as it was and then the thought of having to raise funds was more than some representatives wanted to require of their constituents. Governors began addressing their assemblies, requesting aid and assistance be given to those colonies which were victims of French encroachment. The encroachment continued and the king directed the Governor of New York to hold an interview with the Six Nations, delivering presents to the Indians at Albany on 14 June 1754. The Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations wrote the governors of the colonies, informing them of this conference and requested that this information be considered by their respective assemblies and that they nominate Indian commissioners. They were also to appropriate money for proper gifts to present to the Indians. Most governors conveyed this message to their respective assemblies. The royal executives reiterated the importance of the friendship between the colonies and the Indians, and nearly all made "presents to them at proper times. . . and by observing all our engagements with them.lxxxix Both the Council and House of Representatives of Boston were of the opinion that even though the number of French inhabitants on the continent at that time was considerably smaller than the English population, there were still other circumstances that could have given the French the advantage. The French basically had only one objective upon which their policy and military policies remained focused, whereas the English governments had different interests, were disunited and when not immediately affected seemed unconcerned about events taking place in their sister colonies. The French in North America were well supported by the Crown and treasury of France, whereas the English were obliged to carry on any defensive measures at their own expense.xc
Most governors stressed the need for a union of all ten colonies and believed that the colonists were far superior to the French. However, unless properly articulated by a union among themselves "the colonies are in danger of being swallowed up by an enemy otherwise much smaller in strength and numbers.xci
Although the governors conveyed the idea of a union and stressed its importance, it was not always met with agreement by members of the Assemblies. The New Jersey Assembly made it quite clear to Governor Belcher that they were of tine opinion that there was not yet a concerted effort on the parts of either the Maryland or Pennsylvania legislatures even though they were much nearer to the French forts. Further, they pointed out that New Jersey "had never been parties with the Five Nations and their Allies, nor have they benefited from Indian Trade."xcii
New Jersey's Assembly was not alone in its opposition to union. Two members from the Pennsylvania Assembly informed Governor Hamilton "that near one half of the members are for various reasons, against granting any money for the King's use.xciii Hamilton was so distressed with the sentiments of his assembly that he wrote Governor DeLancey stating that he wished he could send the commissioners from his province under instructions that were agreeable to DeLancey's plan, but "from the particular views of some and ignorance and jealousy of others I have not been able to persuade them . . . ."xciv Benjamin Franklin wholeheartedly agreed with the governors that a plan of union was of the utmost importance and conveyed his sentiments In an editorial appearing in the Pennsylvania Gazette.xcv Franklin described the existing situation in the colonies, including attacks by the French and the Indians. He sent messages to Pennsylvania and Virginia, notifying them that the Six Nations were recruiting warriors to fight the French before they fortified their gains. Franklin believed France's confidence was "well grounded on the present disunited State of the British Colonies, and the extreme difficulty of bringing so many different governments and assemblies to agree in any speedy and effectual measures for our common defense and security."xcvi At the end of this editorial Franklin added what has become known as his motto "Join or Die" - with a wood cut of a disjointed snake, symbolic of the divided state of the colonies. Franklin wrote,
The Confidence of the French in this Undertaking seems well grounded in the present disunited State of the British Colonies, and the extreme Difficulty of bringing so many different Governments and Assembles to agree in any speedy and effectual measures for our common defense and security; While our enemies have the very great advantage of being under one direction, with one council and one Purse. Hence, and from the great Distance of Britain, they presume that they may with Impunity violate the most solemn Treaties subsisting between the two Crownes, kills, fence and imprison our Traders, and consfiscate their Effects at Pleasure, as they have done for several Years past murder and scalp our Farmers, with their Wives and Children, and take an early Possession of Such Parts of the British Territory as they find most convenient for them which if they are permitted to do, must end in the destruction of the British Interest, Trade and Plantations in American.xcvii
The need for a plan of union could be attributed to the discontent that existed among the colonies. The Indian Nations had become angry and went to war against certain colonies when private traders had cheated them by getting them drunk, debauching their women and taking advantages of them through crooked land purchases. The French had gained an early with the Indian tribes through intermarriages with daughters of tribal landers and through trading. In the opinion of Franklin and others, Great Britain was in danger of losing its influence over the Indian Nations.
By the spring of 1754 there were rumors that French troops were being moved to America and the winds of war were blowing strong. Sir William Johnson had argued the importance of Indian aid in a war with France, suggesting that the coming war might be lost without their help, or at least their neutrality. Northern political authorities had failed to secure the required pledges of assistance from the Iroquois. In some quarters, pessimists discussed the possibility of their defection to the French cause. Against this background, the London Board of Trade supported the call for an intercolonial conference on Amerindian affairs, beginning with a conference with the Six Nations. The Albany Congress of 1754, already deep in the planning stage, was as good an instrument for the establishment of this policy as any. Thomas Pownall stated that the Iroquois were now at a stage where they were forming into a nation and therefore some "stateholder," who should be a man of great influence, should be appointed by the crown over the Iroquois. Pownall's paper was later forwarded to London with the proceedings of the Congress.xcviii
The Albany Congress, a meeting of most of the English colonies, was held from June 19 to July 11, 1754. It was an intercolonial conference was held at Albany, New York. Present were 23 delegates from New York, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Maryland, along with 150 members of the Iroquois Indian federation. The Albany Congress had been called by the English Board of Trade to deal with two pressing issues: grievances of the Iroquois against the colonies and the presence of hostile French forces and their Indian allies to the west of the English colonies. The Indians complained to the congress that land speculators were stealing their lands; that an illegal English French trade was bypassing them, thus preventing them from acting as middlemen for profit; and that colonials were trading directly with other Indians supposedly under the rule of the Iroquois. Another Amerindian complaint was centered on the removal of Sir William Johnson from the management of their affairs. This had aroused a dangerous spirit of disaffection among the Indians. The congress had to placate the Iroquois, because they were needed as allies against the French. Gifts and promises were bestowed and the alliance renewed, but the Iroquois went away only half satisfied. The Indian phase of the Albany Congress lasted June 18 29. The Indians were pleased with the presents they received but demanded more effort of the English in establishing forts along the frontier as the price for their assistance against the French. A treaty was signed, mutually renewing the ancient friendship and for the first time recognizing the independence of the Iroquois.xcix
More serious was the French threat from the north. To meet it, the congress drew up a plan of colonial union. For the better defense of the colonies and control of Indian affairs many far sighted colonial leaders had long felt that a closer union was needed. Thus far there were only occasional meetings of colonial governors or commissioners. Discussion of such a union now became one of the principal subjects of the congress. Massachusetts had granted her delegates authority to "enter into articles of union . . . for the general defense of his majesty's subjects."
Principally written by Benjamin Franklin, the plan provided for one general government for all the colonies to manage defense and Indian affairs, pass laws, and raise taxes. The Albany Plan provided for a voluntary union of the colonies with "one general government, each colony to retain its own separate existence and government." The chief executive was to be a president general appointed by the king of England. The legislature, or Grand Council, would consist of representatives appointed by the colonial legislatures. This federal government was given exclusive control of Indian affairs including the power to make peace and declare war, regulate Indian trade, purchase Indian lands for the crown, raise and pay soldiers, build forts, equip vessels, levy taxes and appropriate funds.
The colonists could not agree on a proportioning the cost of erecting of certain forts to guard the northern frontier. Some colonies offered no assistance and watched and waited, while others were willing to defend their own frontier and those of others. Few, in any, colonies were willing to do more than their share. It was a belief shared by many that "unless there be a united and vigorous opposition of the English colonies to them, the French were "laying a solid foundation for being, some time or other, sole masters of this continent . . . ."c A plan of union was necessary in order to maintain the territory they currently held. Many hoped a union would come out of the conference with the Six Indian Nations at Albany that was scheduled for 14 June 1754. The opening date of this conference was delayed until 19 June 1754 so that representatives from all the colonies could be present. As it was, Virginia and New Jersey both declined to send commissioners.
It was on 24 June 1754 that the Albany Congressci voted that a committee consisting of one representative of each of the colonial delegations be selected "to prepare and receive Plans or Schemes for the Union of the Colonies, and to digest them into one general plan for the inspection of this Board."cii The result was a "Plan of a proposed Union of the several Colonies of Massachusetts Bay, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jerseys, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, for their mutual defence and security, and for extending the British Settlements in North America, " the precise title of the Albany Plan of Union.
Franklin's memoirs indicated that there were several people who read his various pamphlets, drafts and proposals before the Albany Congress began. Among these was doubtless his colleague, Proprietorial Secretary of Pennsylvania Richard Peters, who had earlier prepared a scheme which carried the title "A Plan for a General Union of the British Colonies of North America."ciii This provided for the organization of a "Union regiment" to be formed by the contribution of a company of one hundred men from each colony, to be supported by colonial excise taxes and commanded by officers appointed by the Crown; according to this project, likewise, there was to be not only a "Union Fund" but also a "Fort Fund"; it also visualized the grouping of the continental colonies into four unions for defensive purposes, based upon geographical and other considerations. In searching for light on other union proposals available for the Committee one must omit, it would seem, that by Thomas Pownall, who was not a commissioner and who only at the last session of the Congress submitted his "Considerations toward a General Plan of Measures for the Colonies."civ
There remain to be considered two surviving plans of union that are so closely related that they may be considered as essentially one. That is, one is clearly an amended form of the other. The first is entitled "Plan of a proposed Union of the several Colonies of Massachusetts Bay, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York & New Jersey, for their mutual Defence, & Security, & for extending the British Settlements Northward & Westward of Said Colonies in North America." It proposed that the colonies ask Parliament for enabling legislation, allowing the colonies to proceed with the plan. The president general would serve simultaneously as governor of Massachusetts and would be commander of all troops under the council's control; and in case of his death the lieutenant governor of the same colony would serve. There would be a treasurer to handle the organization's finances. The principal duty of the popularly elected council would regulation of the Indian trade and the negotiation of war, peace and treaties with the Amerindian tribes; and negotiate with the natives for all land purchases made beyond the boundaries of the thirteen colonies. Council would also offer protection to all new settlements until they were brought under some more appropriate government. Each colony would retain its own militia and have exclusive power to order it within the colony.cv
The second is the "Plan of a Proposed Union of The Several Colonies of Massachusetts Bay, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, & New York, for their Mutual Defence & Security & for extending the British Settlements Northward & Westward of Said Colonys in North America."cvi Outside of inconsequential differences in a clause or two, capitalization and spelling, the principal differences that distinguishes the two plans is that in the first, New Jersey is included in the amendment of the text, and in the second, it is excluded. Unfortunately, one cannot be certain whether these two plans for a union of northern continental colonies existed at the time that the Committee on a Union was appointed. Thus, one does not know if either or both of these proposals was laid before the Albany Congress. The only sure and certain thing that can be said is that Franklin's "Short Hints" was written well before the Congress.cvii
By June 28 the Congress arrived at its first decision. It favored the Franklin project of union as a basis for the final scheme. Therefore, in reporting to the Congress, the Committee "presented short hints of a scheme for that purpose of which copies were taken by the Commissioners of the respective Provinces."cviii On June 29, according to the Journal of the proceedings of the Congress, "The details of a scheme for the Union of the Colonies were debated on, but came to no conclusion."cix
Peters presented a plan that was totally ignored by the Congress and, thus, is not connected with its final proposals on a union. The two plans for a union of northern continental colonies have a most important relation to the adopted Albany Plan. In language and structure they are identical with it. There are two possibilities. One is that these two plans were drafted in the course of the proceedings of the work of the Committee on Colonial Union, or after its termination, and were a by product, of the logical expansion by Franklin of his "Short Hints" in the direction of the finished Albany Union Plan finally adopted by the Congress. The other possibility is that at least one, and possibility both, of the plans existed prior to the time that the Committee began its work. Thus, at least one of the plans had to be digested by the group in welding various union proposals into a final harmonious scheme.
There were perhaps other plans prepared for the attention of the Committee, but of these we have no knowledge. No mention was made in the Journal of the Congress of other plans of union that were considered by the Committee. The traditional view is that Benjamin Franklin, acting alone, was the master architect of the Albany Plan. After the Congress commenced works only a very few modifications in it were required, and these were the result of discussions in Committee. Some delegates may have carried in suggestions or requirements from their respective colonies. Franklin, for his part, at no time stated that the Albany Plan was really a composite thing, and seemed to imply that the Plan was entirely his own. Such modifications as the delegates offered at the Congress were made against Franklin's better judgment. Writing to his New York friend Cadwallader Colden on 14 July 1754, at the close of the Congress, Franklin bragged, "The Commissioners agreed on a Plan of Union of 11 Colonies . . . the same with that of which I sent you the Hints, some few Particulars excepted."cx In a letter to Peter Collinson, dated 29 December, Franklin enclosed a copy of the famous "Motives," which he had drawn up in support of the Albany Plan, and with reference to the latter stated, "For tho' I projected the Plan and drew it, I was oblig'd to alter some Things contrary to my Judgment or should never have been able to carry it through."cxi Again in that part of his Autobiography, written as late as 1788, he referred to his own contribution to the Albany Congress.cxii "A Committee was then appointed, one member, from each colony, to consider the several plans and report. Mine happen'd to be preferr'd, and, with a few Amendments, was accordingly reported."cxiii
Thomas Hutchinson reinforced Franklin's own testimony. Writing many years later in his Diary about the work of the Congress, the Massachusetts Bay delegate said Franklin had prepared the text long before he had any contact with Hutchinson.cxiv In his History of Massachusetts, Hutchinson summarized "the capital parts of the plan." He wrote, "The plan for a general union was projected by Benjamin Franklin, Esq., one of the Commissioners from the province of Pensilvania, the heads where of he brought with him."cxv
Whatever other plans of union may have survived, they were but a projection either of the final draft of the "Short Hints" or at least of an intermediate draft made by Franklin. Jared Sparks' edition of Franklin's work contained a document which referred to the introduction of a plan of union designed to encompass only the colonies lying north of Pennsylvania. "Another plan was proposed in the Convention, which included only New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey . . . . "cxvi Franklin in an early redraft of the "Short Hints," issued before Albany Congress, suggested the idea of a general union of all the continental colonies but Nova Scotia and Georgia.
The Congress on 24 June created a committee to study the various proposals and to formulate one of its own, if it chose to do so. The committee was composed of Thomas Hutchinson of Massachusetts; Theodore Atkinson of New Hampshire; William Pitkin of Connecticut; Stephen Hopkins of Rhode Island; William Smith of New York; Benjamin Tasker of Maryland; and Franklin for Pennsylvania.cxvii Franklin noted that, in addition to his own plan, "several of the commissioners had form'd plans of the same kind . . . . A committee was then appointed . . . to consider the several plans and report."cxviii The Journal of the Congress clearly shows that when the Albany Congress voted to create a committee "to prepare and receive Plans or Schemes for the Union of the Colonies, and to digest them into one general plan for the inspection of this Board."cxix
Up until the evening of 29 June the Commissioners as a body engaged only in discussing the merits of the original Franklin plan. The Journal records for the afternoon of that day that, "The hints of a scheme for the Union of the Colonies were debated on, but came to no conclusion."cxx The copies of "the short hints of a scheme," distributed the afternoon of the preceding day, still had the attention of the Congress. The Committee on the Union had as its single duty preparing a unified draft of union. On 1 July the Congress determined to call upon the committee to prepare a second document, known as, "a representation of the present state of the Colonies." It then began to study "The Plan of Union of the Colonies, which, although debated, "the Board came to no resolves upon it."cxxi
One may be reasonably sure that if the two plans providing simply for a union of the more northern colonies stemmed, in language and form, from the Franklin drafting process, they must have come into existence sometime after July 1 and also after the debates that had already taken place in the Congress on June 29 and on July 1. Franklin either at Albany or soon after leaving that city, drew up the "Reasons and Motives on Which the Plan of Union was Formed."cxxii In the section entitled "Reasons against Partial Unions," Franklin wrote, "It was proposed by some of the Commissioners to form the colonies into two or three distinct unions; but for these reasons [that is, those thereupon given which are six in number] that proposal was dropped even by those who made it . . . ."cxxiii
The Plan of Union proposed at Albany in 1754 was an attempt to confront two related problems. The first was the need for joint, united action by the colonies, not only in times of war but as a matter of normal political practice. The second was the need Franklin and the delegates to the Congress perceived to insert a third governmental entity between the individual colonies and the British government. The plan would have created the first American government. But the delegates to the conference in Albany did not have the power to adopt the Plan of Union, but only to propose it, both to Parliament and to each of the colonial governments. In the end, not a single colonial government approved of the scheme.