ALBANY PLAN. Albany Congress (1754), called by order of the British government for the purpose of conciliating the Iroquois and securing their support in the war against France, was more notable for the plans that it made than for its actual accomplishments. In June commissioners from New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and Maryland met with the chiefs of the Six Nations. The Iroquiois were justifiably upset with the continued encroachment on their lands, the trading of Albany with Canada, and the removal of the well-considered Johnson (later Sir William Johnson) from the management of their affairs. Gifts and promises were bestowed and the alliance renewed, but the Iroquois went away only half satisfied.
For the better defense of the colonies and control of Indian affairs it had long been felt that occasional meetings of governors or commissioners was not enough, and that circumstances required a closer union. Discussion of such a union now became one of the principal subjects of the congress. Massachusetts indeed had granted its delegates authority to "enter into articles of union … for the general defense of his majesty's subjects." The plan adopted was one proposed by Benjamin Franklin and frequently referred to at the time as the Albany Plan. It provided for a voluntary union of the colonies with "one general government," each colony to retain its own separate existence and government. The new government was to be administered by a president general appointed by the Crown and a grand council of delegates from the several colonial assemblies, members of the council to hold office for three years. 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 home government rejected this plan because it was felt that it encroached on the royal prerogative. The colonies disapproved of it because it did not allow them sufficient independence. Nevertheless this Albany Plan was to have far-reaching results. It paved the way for the Stamp Act Congress of 1765 and the Continental Congress of 1774, and when the need of a closer union arose, it served as a guide in the deliberations of the representatives of the colonies.
Shannon, Timothy J. Indians and Colonists at the Crossroads of Empire: The Albany Congress of 1754. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2000.
A. C.Flick/a. r.