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CXII: PLAN OF UNION FOR THE COLONIES - Benjamin Franklin, The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. III Letters and Misc. Writings 1753-1763 
The Works of Benjamin Franklin, including the Private as well as the Official and Scientific Correspondence, together with the Unmutilated and Correct Version of the Autobiography, compiled and edited by John Bigelow (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904). The Federal Edition in 12 volumes. Vol. III (Letters and Misc. Writings 1753-1763).
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PLAN OF UNION FOR THE COLONIES
In anticipation of unpleasant complications with France, the Lords of Trade directed commissioners to be appointed in several of the provinces, to assemble at Albany for the specific purpose of conciliating and attaching to them the Six Nations, whose alliance was of vital importance in case of a war with France. The commissioners met on the 19th of June, 1754. The colonies of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland were represented by twenty-five commissioners or delegates. Franklin was the commissioner from Pennsylvania. Several days were spent in distributing presents and holding “talks” with the Indians. On the 24th of June the journal of the commissioners shows the following record:
“A motion was made that the commissioners deliver their opinion whether a union of all the colonies is not at present absolutely necessary for their security and defence. The question was accordingly put, and passed in the affirmative unanimously.
On a motion made, that a committee be appointed 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; Resolved, that each government choose one of their own number to be of that committee. Accordingly were appointed Thomas Hutchinson for Massachusetts, Theodore Atkinson for New Hampshire, William Pitkin for Connecticut, Stephen Hopkins for Rhode Island, William Smith for New York, Benjamin Franklin for Pennsylvania, and Benjamin Tasker for Maryland.”
It is a significant and curious fact that, with the exception of those from Massachusetts, none of the delegates had any instructions to discuss the question of a union of the colonies for mutual defence, or for any other purpose. Their instructions restricted them to the concerting of measures best calculated to secure the friendship of the Six Nations, and to resist the encroachment of the French and their allies. The Massachusetts commissioners were authorized to “enter into articles of union and confederation for the general defence of his Majesty’s subjects and interests in North America, as well in time of peace as of war.” Though not within the instructions of the commissioners, there are abundant reasons for believing that some plan of union was the subject of much more thought and discussion than the friendship of the Indians, a subject, however, which was not neglected. It certainly had been the uppermost thought in Franklin’s mind for some time. The Pennsylvania Gazette for May 9th, 1754, contains an account, evidently from his pen, of the capture by the French of Captain Trent’s party, who were erecting a fort (afterwards Fort Duquesne) at the fork of the Ohio. After narrating the particulars, and urging union to resist aggression, he adds: “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 assemblies to agree in any speedy and effectual measures for our common defence and security; while our enemies have the very great advantage of being under one direction, with one council, and one purse.” At the end of the article is a woodcut, in which is the figure of a snake, separated into parts, to each of which is affixed the initial of one of the colonies, and at the bottom in large capital letters the motto, Join or Die. It is not surprising, therefore, that when Franklin arrived at Albany, he had in his pocket a “plan of union” which he had submitted to several influential friends in New York, and which received their approval. Several other plans were submitted to the committee, but his was approved of, and reported to the commissioners. Its various features were under discussion twelve days, and finally adopted, subject to the confirmation of Parliament, which was judged necessary to give such a union validity. Though the commissioners were nearly or quite unanimous in approving Franklin’s plan of union—Trumbull says the Connecticut delegates did not approve of it, though they did approve of the union,—it met with a very different reception from the colonial assemblies to whom it was submitted, while in England, it proved so unacceptable that the Board of Trade did not even recommend it to the notice of the king. Franklin says: “The Assemblies all thought there was too much prerogative in it, and in England it was thought to have too much of the democratic.” The home government had doubtless much the same reasons for discouraging such a union as the Roman emperors had for refusing to allow the servile population to be put in uniform; they did not care to give them such facilities for learning their own strength.
Short Hints towards a Scheme for Uniting the Northern Colonies
To be appointed by the King.
To be a military man.
To have a salary from the crown.
To have a negation on all acts of the Grand Council, and carry into execution whatever is agreed on by him and that Council.
One member to be chosen by the Assembly of each of the smaller colonies, and two or more by each of the larger, in proportion to the sums they pay yearly into the general treasury.
—— shillings sterling per diem, during their sitting, and mileage for travelling expenses.
PLACE AND TIME OF MEETING
To meet —— times in every year, at the capital of each colony, in course, unless particular circumstances and emergencies require more frequent meetings and alteration in the course of places. The governor-general to judge of those circumstances, &c., and call by his writs.
Its fund, an excise on strong liquors, pretty equally drunk in the colonies, or duty on liquor imported, or —— shillings on each license of a public house, or excise on superfluities, &c., &c. All which would pay in some proportion to the present wealth of each colony, and increase as that wealth increases, and prevent disputes about the inequality of quotas. To be collected in each colony and lodged in their treasury, to be ready for the payment of orders issuing from the governor-general and Grand Council jointly.
DUTY AND POWER OF THE GOVERNOR-GENERAL AND GRAND COUNCIL
To order all Indian treaties. Make all Indian purchases not within proprietary grants. Make and support new settlements by building forts, raising and paying soldiers to garrison the forts, defend the frontiers, and annoy the enemy. Equip guard-vessels to scour the coasts from privateers in time of war, and protect the trade, and every thing that shall be found necessary for the defence and support of the colonies in general, and increasing and extending their settlements, &c.
For the expense, they may draw on the fund in the treasury of any colony.
MANNER OF FORMING THIS UNION
The scheme being first well considered, corrected, and improved by the commissioners at Albany, to be sent home, and an act of Parliament obtained for establishing it.1
Letter from James Alexander to Cadwallader Colden, Respecting the Above Hints
New York, [June] 9, 1754.
I had some conversation with Mr. Franklin and Mr. Peters1 as to the uniting the colonies, and the difficulties thereof, by effecting our liberties on the one hand, or being ineffectual on the other. Whereon Mr. Franklin promised to set down some hints of a scheme that he thought might do, which accordingly he sent to me to be transmitted to you, and it is enclosed.
To me it seems extremely well digested, and at first sight avoids many difficulties that had occurred to me.
Some difficulties still remain. For example, there cannot be found men tolerably well skilled in warlike affairs to be chosen for the Grand Council, and there is danger in communicating to them the schemes to be put in execution, for fear of a discovery to the enemy.
Whether this may not be in some measure remedied by a council of state of a few persons to be chosen by the Grand Council at their stated meetings, which council of state to be always attending the governor-general, and with him to digest beforehand all matters to be laid before the next Grand Council, and only the general, but not the particular, plans of operation.
That the governor-general and that council of state issue orders for the payment of moneys, so far as the Grand Council have beforehand agreed may be issued for any general plan to be executed. That the governor-general and council of state, at every meeting of the Grand Council, lay before them their accounts and transactions since the last meeting; at least so much of their transactions as is safe to be made public. This council of state to be something like that of the United Provinces, and the Grand Council to resemble the States-General.
That the capacity and ability of the persons to be chosen of the council of state and Grand Council be their only qualifications, whether members of the respective bodies that choose them or not. That the Grand Council, with the governor-general, have power to increase, but not to decrease, the duties laid by act of Parliament, and have power to issue bills of credit on emergencies, to be sunk by the increased funds, bearing a small interest, but not to be tenders. I am, dear Sir,
Your most obedient,
It was thought that if the least colony was allowed more than two, and the others in proportion, the number would be very great, and the expense heavy; and that less than two would not be convenient, as a single person being by any accident prevented appearing at the meeting, the colony he ought to appear for would not be represented. That as the choice was not immediately popular, they would be generally men of good abilities for business, and men of reputation for integrity; and that forty-eight such men might be a number sufficient. But though it was thought reasonable that each colony should have a share in the representative body in some degree according to the proportion it contributed to the general treasury, yet the proportion of wealth or power of the colonies is not to be judged by the proportion here fixed; because it was at first agreed that the greatest colony should not have more than seven members, nor the least less than two; and the setting these proportions between these two extremes was not nicely attended to, as it would find itself, after the first election, from the sums brought into the treasury, as by a subsequent article.
PLACE OF FIRST MEETING
—who shall meet for the first time at the city of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania, being called by the President-General as soon as conveniently may be after his appointment.
Philadelphia was named as being nearer the centre of the colonies, where the commissioners would be well and cheaply accommodated. The high roads through the whole extent, are for the most part very good, in which forty or fifty miles a day may very well be, and frequently are, travelled. Great part of the way may likewise be gone by water. In summer time the passages are frequently performed in a week from Charleston to Philadelpiha and New York; and from Rhode Island to New York, through the Sound, in two or three days; and from New York to Philadelphia, by water and land, in two days, by stage, boats, and wheel carriages that set out every other day. The journey from Charleston to Philadelphia may likewise be facilitated by boats running up Chesapeake Bay three hundred miles. But if the whole journey be performed on horseback, the most distant members, viz., the two from New Hampshire and from South Carolina, may probably render themselves at Philadelphia in fifteen to twenty days; the majority may be there in much less time.
That there shall be a new election of the members of the Grand Council every three years; and on the death or resignation of any member, his place should be supplied by a new choice at the next sitting of the Assembly of the colony he represented.
Some colonies have annual assemblies, some continue during a governor’s pleasure; three years was thought a reasonable medium, as affording a new member time to improve himself in the business, and to act after such improvement, and yet giving opportunities, frequently enough, to change him if he has misbehaved.
PROPORTION OF MEMBERS AFTER THE FIRST THREE YEARS
That after the first three years, when the proportion of money arising out of each colony to the general treasury can be known, the number of members to be chosen for each colony shall from time to time, in all ensuing elections, be regulated by that proportion, yet so as that the number to be chosen by any one province be not more than seven, nor less than two.
By a subsequent article it is proposed that the General Council shall lay and levy such general duties as to them may appear most equal and least burthensome, &c. Suppose, for instance, they lay a small duty or excise on some commodity imported into or made in the colonies, and pretty generally and equally used in all of them, as rum, perhaps, or wine; the yearly produce of this duty or excise, if fairly collected, would be in some colonies greater, in others less, as the colonies are greater or smaller. When the collector’s accounts are brought in, the proportions will appear; and from them it is proposed to regulate the proportion of representatives to be chosen at the next general election, within the limits, however, of seven and two. These numbers may therefore vary in the course of years, as the colonies may in the growth and increase of people. And thus the quota of tax from each colony would naturally vary with its circumstances, thereby preventing all disputes and dissatisfaction about the just proportions due from each; which might otherwise produce pernicious consequences, and destroy the harmony and good agreement that ought to subsist between the several parts of the Union.
MEETINGS OF THE GRAND COUNCIL, AND CALL
That the Grand Council shall meet once in every year, and oftener if occasion require, at such time and place as they shall adjourn to at the last preceding meeting, or as they shall be called to meet at by the President-General on any emergency, he having first obtained in writing the consent of seven of the members to such call, and sent due and timely notice to the whole.
It was thought, in establishing and governing new colonies or settlements, regulating Indian trade, Indian treaties, &c., there would be every year sufficient business arise to require at least one meeting, and at such meeting many things might be suggested for the benefit of all the colonies. This annual meeting may either be at a time or place certain, to be fixed by the President-General and Grand Council at their first meeting; or left at liberty, to be at such time and place as they shall adjourn to, or be called to meet at by the President-General.
In time of war it seems convenient that the meeting should be in that colony which is nearest the seat of action.
The power of calling them on any emergency seemed necessary to be vested in the President-General; but that such power might not be wantonly used to harass the members, and oblige them to make frequent long journeys to little purpose, the consent of seven at least to such call was supposed a convenient guard.
That the Grand Council have power to choose their speaker, and shall neither be dissolved, prorogued, nor continued sitting longer than six weeks at one time, without their own consent or the special command of the crown.
The speaker should be presented for approbation; it being convenient, to prevent misunderstandings and disgusts, that the mouth of the Council should be a person agreeable, if possible, both to the Council and President-General.
Governors have sometimes wantonly exercised the power of proroguing or continuing the sessions of assemblies merely to harass the members and compel a compliance; and sometimes dissolve them on slight disgusts. This it was feared might be done by the President-General, if not provided against, and the inconvenience and hardship would be greater in the general government than in particular colonies, in proportion to the distance the members must be from home during sittings, and the long journeys some of them must necessarily take.
That the members of the Grand Council shall be allowed for their service ten shillings sterling per diem during their session and journey to and from the place of meeting; twenty miles to be reckoned a day’s journey.
It was thought proper to allow some wages, lest the expense might deter some suitable persons from the service; and not to allow too great wages, lest unsuitable persons should be tempted to cabal for the employment, for the sake of gain. Twenty miles were set down as a day’s journey, to allow for accidental hindrances on the road and the greater expenses of travelling than residing at the place of meeting.
ASSENT OF PRESIDENT-GENERAL AND HIS DUTY
That the assent of the President-General be requisite to all acts of the Grand Council, and that it be his office and duty to cause them to be carried into execution.
The assent of the President-General to all acts of the Grand Council was made necessary, in order to give the crown its due share of influence in this government, and connect it with that of Great Britain. The President-General, besides one half of the legislative power, hath in his hands the whole executive power.
POWER OF PRESIDENT-GENERAL AND GRAND COUNCIL; TREATIES OF PEACE AND WAR
That the President-General, with the advice of the Grand Council, hold or direct all Indian treaties in which the general interest of the colonies may be concerned; and make peace or declare war with Indian nations.
The power of making peace or war with Indian nations is at present supposed to be in every colony, and is expressly granted to some by charter, so that no new power is hereby intended to be granted to the colonies. But as, in consequence of this power, one colony might make peace with a nation that another was justly engaged in war with, or make war on slight occasions without the concurrence or approbation of neighbouring colonies greatly endangered by it, or make particular treaties of neutrality, in case of a general war, to their own private advantage in trade, by supplying the common enemy,—of all which there have been instances,—it was thought better to have all treaties of a general nature under a general direction, that so the good of the whole may be consulted and provided for.
That they make such laws as they judge necessary for regulating all Indian trade.
Many quarrels and wars have arisen between the colonies and Indian nations through the bad conduct of traders, who cheat the Indians after making them drunk, &c., to the great expense of the colonies, both in blood and treasure. Particular colonies are so interested in the trade, as not to be willing to admit such a regulation as might be best for the whole; and therefore it was thought best under a general direction.
That they make all purchases, from Indians for the crown, of lands not now within the bounds of particular colonies, or that shall not be within their boundswhen some of them are reduced to more convenient dimensions.
Purchases from the Indians, made by private persons, have been attended with many inconveniences. They have frequently interfered and occasioned uncertainty of titles, many disputes and expensive lawsuits, and hindered the settlement of the land so disputed. Then the Indians have been cheated by such private purchases, and discontent and wars have been the consequence. These would be prevented by public, fair purchases.
Several of the colony charters in America extend their bounds to the South Sea, which may be perhaps, three or four thousand miles in length to one or two hundred miles in breadth. It is supposed they must in time be reduced to dimensions more convenient for the common purposes of government.
Very little of the land in those grants is yet purchased of the Indians.
It is much cheaper to purchase of them, than to take and maintain the possession by force; for they are generally very reasonable in their demands for land: and the expense of guarding a large frontier against their incursions is vastly great; because all must be guarded, and always guarded, as we know not where or when to expect them.1
That they make new settlements on such purchases, by granting lands in the King’s name, reserving a quit-rent to the crown for the use of the general treasury.
It is supposed better that there should be one purchaser than many; and that the crown should be that purchaser, or the Union in the name of the crown. By this means the bargains may be more easily made, the price not enhanced by numerous bidders, future disputes about private Indian purchases, and monopolies of vast tracts to particular persons (which are prejudicial to the settlement and peopling of the country), prevented; and the land being again granted in small tracts to the settlers, the quit-rents reserved may in time become a fund for support of government, for defence of the country, ease of taxes, &c.
Strong forts on the Lakes, the Ohio, &c., may, at the same time they secure our present frontiers, serve to defend new colonies settled under their protection; and such colonies would also mutually defend and support such forts, and better secure the friendship of the far Indians.
A particular colony has scarce strength enough to extend itself by new settlements, at so great a distance from the old; but the joint force of the Union might suddenly establish a new colony or two in those parts, or extend an old colony to particular passes, greatly to the security of our present frontiers, increase of trade and people, breaking off the French communication between Canada and Louisiana, and speedy settlement of the intermediate lands.
The power of settling new colonies is, therefore, thought a valuable part of the plan, and what cannot so well be executed by two unions as by one.
LAWS TO GOVERN THEM
That they make laws for regulating and governing such new settlements till the crown shall think fit to form them into particular governments.
The making of laws suitable for the new colonies it was thought, would be properly vested in the President-General and Grand Council, under whose protection they must at first necessarily be, and who would be well acquainted with their circumstances, as having settled them. When they are become sufficiently populous, they may by the crown be formed into complete and distinct governments.
The appointment of a sub-president by the crown, to take place in case of the death or absence of the President-General, would perhaps be an improvement of the plan; and if all the governors of particular provinces were to be formed into a standing council of state, for the advice and assistance of the President-General, it might be another considerable improvement.
RAISE SOLDIERS AND EQUIP VESSELS, &C.
That they raise and pay soldiers and build forts for the defence of any of the colonies, and equip vessels of force to guard the coasts and protect the trade on the ocean, lakes, or great rivers; but they shall not impress men in any colony without the consent of the legislature.
It was thought that quotas of men, to be raised and paid by the several colonies, and joined for any public service, could not always be got together with the necessary expedition. For instance, suppose one thousand men should be wanted in New Hampshire on any emergency. To fetch them by fifties and hundreds out of every colony, as far as South Carolina, would be inconvenient, the transportation chargeable, and the occasion perhaps passed before they could be assembled; and therefore that it would be best to raise them (by offering bounty-money and pay) near the place where they would be wanted, to be discharged again when the service should be over.
Particular colonies are at present backward to build forts at their own expense, which they say will be equally useful to their neighbouring colonies, who refuse to join, on a presumption that such forts will be built and kept up, though they contribute nothing. This unjust conduct weakens the whole; but the forts being for the good of the whole, it was thought best they should be built and maintained by the whole out of the common treasury.
In the time of war, small vessels of force are sometimes necessary in the colonies to scour the coasts of small privateers. These being provided by the Union will be an advantage in turn to the colonies which are situated on the sea, and whose frontiers on the landside, being covered by other colonies, reap but little immediate benefit from the advanced forts.
POWER TO MAKE LAWS, LAY DUTIES, &C.
That for these purposes they have power to make laws, and lay and levy such general duties, imposts, or taxes as to them shall appear most equal and just (considering the ability and other circumstances of the inhabitants in the several colonies), and such as may be collected with the least inconvenience to the people; rather discouraging luxury than loading industry with unnecessary burthens.
The laws which the President-General and Grand Council are empowered to make are such only as shall be necessary for the government of the settlements; the raising, regulating, and paying soldiers for the general service; the regulating of Indian trade, and laying and collecting the general duties and taxes. They should also have a power to restrain the exportation of provisions to the enemy from any of the colonies, on particular occasions, in time of war. But it is not intended that they may interfere with the constitution and government of the particular colonies, who are to be left to their own laws, and to lay, levy, and apply their own taxes as before.
GENERAL TREASURER AND PARTICULAR TREASURER
That they may appoint a General Treasurer and Particular Treasurer in each government, whennecessary; and from time to time may order the sums in the treasuries of each government into the general treasury, or draw on them for special payments, as they find most convenient.
The treasurers here meant are only for the general funds, and not for the particular funds of each colony, which remain in the hands of their own treasurers at their own disposal.
MONEY, HOW TO ISSUE
Yet no money to issue but by joint orders of the President-General and Grand Council; except where sums have been appropriated to particular purposes, and the President-General is previously empowered by an act to draw such sums.
To prevent misapplication of the money, or even application that might be dissatisfactory to the crown or the people, it was thought necessary to join the President-General and Grand Council in all issues of money.
That the general accounts shall be yearly settled and reported to the several Assemblies.
By communicating the accounts yearly to each Assembly, they will be satisfied of the prudent and honest conduct of their representatives in the Grand Council.
That a quorum of the Grand Council, empowered to act with the President-General, do consist of twenty-fivemembers, among whom there shall be one or more from a majority of the colonies.
The quorum seems large, but it was thought it would not be satisfactory to the colonies in general to have matters of importance to the whole transacted by a smaller number, or even by this number of twenty-five, unless there were among them one at least from a majority of the colonies; because otherwise, the whole quorum being made up of members from three or four colonies at one end of the union, something might be done that would not be equal with respect to the rest, and thence dissatisfaction and discords might arise to the prejudice of the whole.
LAWS TO BE TRANSMITTED
That the laws made by them for the purposes aforesaid shall not be repugnant, but, as near as may be, agreeable to the laws of England, and shall be transmitted to the King in Council for approbation as soon as may be after their passing; and if not disapproved within three years after presentation, to remain in force.
This was thought necessary for the satisfaction of the crown, to preserve the connexion of the parts of the British empire with the whole, of the members with the head, and to induce greater care and circumspection in making of the laws, that they be good in themselves and for the general benefit.
DEATH OF THE PRESIDENT-GENERAL
That in case of the death of the President-General, the Speaker of the Grand Council for the time beingshall succeed, and be vested with the same powers and authorities, to continue till the King’s pleasure be known.
It might be, perhaps, as was said before, if the crown appointed a vice-president, to take place on the death or absence of the President-General; for so we should be more sure of a suitable person at the head of the colonies. On the death or absence of both, the speaker to take place (or rather the eldest King’s governor) till his Majesty’s pleasure be known.
OFFICERS, HOW APPOINTED
That all military commission officers, whether for land or sea service, to act under this general constitution, shall be nominated by the President-General; but the approbation of the Grand Council is to be obtained before they receive their commissions. And all civil officers are to be nominated by the Grand Council, and to receive the President-General’s approbation before they officiate.
It was thought it might be very prejudicial to the service to have officers appointed unknown to the people, or unacceptable; the generality of Americans serving willingly under officers they know, and not caring to engage in the service under strangers, or such as are often appointed by governors through favor or interest. The service here meant is not the stated, settled service in standing troops, but any sudden and short service, either for defence of our colonies or invading the enemy’s country (such as the expedition to Cape Breton in the last war, in which many substantial farmers and tradesmen engaged as common soldiers, under officers of their own country, for whom they had an esteem and affection, who would not have engaged in a standing army or under officers from England). It was therefore thought best to give the Council the power of approving the officers, which the people will look upon as a great security of their being good men. And without some such provision as this, it was thought the expense of engaging men in the service on any emergency would be much greater, and the number who could be induced to engage much less, and that therefore it would be most for the King’s service and general benefit of the nation that the prerogative should relax a little in this particular throughout all the colonies in America, as it had already done much more in the charters of some particular colonies, viz., Connecticut and Rhode Island.
The civil officers will be chiefly treasurers and collectors of taxes; and the suitable persons are most likely to be known by the Council.
VACANCIES, HOW SUPPLIED
But in case of vacancy by death or removal of any officer, civil or military, under this constitution, the Governor of the province in which such vacancy happens may appoint, till the pleasure of the President-General and Grand Council can be known.
The vacancies were thought best supplied by the governors in each province, till a new appointment can be regularly made; otherwise the service might suffer before the meeting of the President-General and Grand Council.
EACH COLONY MAY DEFEND ITSELF ON EMERGENCY, &C.
That the particular military as well as civil establishments in each colony remain in their present state, the general constitution notwithstanding; and that on sudden emergencies any colony may defend itself, and lay the accounts of expense thence arising before the President-General and General Council, who may allow and order payment of the same, as far as they judge such accounts just and reasonable.
Otherwise the union of the whole would weaken the parts, contrary to the design of the Union. The accounts are to be judged of by the President-General and Grand Council, and allowed if found reasonable. This was thought necessary to encourage colonies to defend themselves, as the expense would be light when borne by the whole; and also to check imprudent and lavish expense in such defences.
[1 ]This paper was communicated to James Alexander, with the following note.
“Mr. Alexander is requested to peruse these Hints, and make remarks in correcting or improving the scheme, and send the paper with such remarks, to Dr. Colden for his sentiments, who is desired to forward the whole to Albany, to their very humble servant,
[1 ]Mr. Peters was one of the delegates to the Albany Convention from Pennsylvania.
[1 ]The several Articles, as originally adopted, are printed in Italic type, the reasons and motives in Roman.
It is to be observed that the union was to extend to the colonies of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina (being all the British Colonies at that time in North America, except Georgia and Nova Scotia), “for their mutual defence and security, and for extending the British settlements in North America.” Another plan was proposed to the Convention, which included only New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, and New Jersey. This was printed in the volume of the collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society for 1800. It is a rough draft of the above plan, with some unimportant variations. It would seem, by the Hints communicated to Mr. Alexander, that Franklin himself did not at first contemplate any thing more than a union of the northern colonies.—Sparks.
[1 ]To guard against the incursions of the Indians, a plan was sent over to America (and, as I think, by authority), suggesting the expediency of clearing away the woods and bushes from a tract of land, a mile in breadth, and extending along the back of the colonies. Unfortunately, besides the large expense of the undertaking (which, if one acre cost £2 sterling, and six hundred and forty acres make a square mile, is £128,000 first cost for every hundred miles), it was forgotten that the Indians, like other people, knew the difference between day and night, and that a mile of advance and another of retreat were nothing to the celerity of such an enemy. This plan, it is said, was the work of Dean Tucker.—B. V.
If the absurdity of such a scheme is not in itself sufficiently glaring, it may be added, that bushes would soon start up and grow into trees again, and the expense of clearing must be often repeated.