Front Page Titles (by Subject) 77: [The Albany Plan of Union] - Colonial Origins of the American Constitution: A Documentary History
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77: [The Albany Plan of Union] - Donald S. Lutz, Colonial Origins of the American Constitution: A Documentary History 
Colonial Origins of the American Constitution: A Documentary History, ed. Donald S. Lutz (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund 1998).
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[The Albany Plan of Union]
The complete text is taken from Thorpe, Federal and State Constitutions, 83–86.
In 1754 the colonies sent representatives to a general congress to conclude a treaty with the Iroquois. Although Benjamin Franklin was much impressed by the Iroquois Confederation, neither this document nor the later Articles of Confederation bears any serious resemblance to the Iroquois system. For example, the Iroquois required unanimous approval by all tribes; tribal representation was not proportional to tribal population. Their confederation council was divided into three parts, each with a specific role in the overall decision making process: council members, assuming their good behavior, were not elected but appointed by “royal” (royaneh) families for life; the executive branch was internal to the council and functioned only when the council was in session; and constituent tribal government was organized along traditional tribal lines and not democratically. The Albany Plan of Union proposed that the democratically elected colonial legislatures elect confederation delegates for three-year terms; the executive was to be appointed by the king and function as a separate entity during and between sessions of the Grand Council; and the unicameral Council was to be based on proportional representation and use majority rule. The unicameral legislature created by the Articles of Confederation was really no closer to the Iroquois model; because its delegates were also elected to terms by the state legislatures, it used either simple or three-fourths majorities, and it used a thirteen-member (one from each state) Council of States between sessions as an executive branch. The Albany Plan and the Articles of Confederation were natural extensions of The New England Confederation, 1643 . The Albany Plan was much closer to Penn’s Plan of Union, 1697, and the Articles of Confederation were closer to Galloway’s Plan of Union, 1774 (see Appendix), than to any reasonable interpretation of the Iroquois system. The Albany Plan of Union failed adoption by the colonial legislatures and did not go into effect but is included here because it was adopted by a colonial body authorized to produce a mechanism for enforcing and maintaining the treaty with the Iroquois, the essential purpose of this Plan, and because it was the immediate model for the operation of the Continental Congress and the design for the Articles of Confederation.
It is proposed, that humble application be made for an act of Parliament of Great Britain, by virtue of which one general government may be formed in America, including all the said colonies, within and under which government each colony may retain its present constitution, except in the particulars wherein a change may be directed by the said act, as hereafter follows.
president-general and grand council
That the said general government be administered by a President-General, to be appointed and supported by the crown; and a Grand Council, to be chosen by the representatives of the people of the several colonies met in their respective Assemblies.
election of members
That within [ ] months after the passing of such act, the House of Representatives that happens to be sitting within that time, or that shall be especially for that purpose convened, may and shall choose members for the Grand Council in the following proportion—that is to say:
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
That they make such laws as they judge necessary for regulating all Indian trade.
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 bounds when some of them are reduced to more convenient dimensions.
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.
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.
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.
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.
general treasurer and particular treasurer
That they may appoint a General Treasurer and Particular Treasurer in each government, when necessary; 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.
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.
That the general accounts shall be yearly settled and reported to the several Assemblies.
That a quorum of the Grand Council, empowered to act with the President-General, do consist of twenty-five members, among whom there shall be one or more from a majority of the colonies.
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 disappoved within three years after presentation, to remain in force.
death of the president-general
That in case of the death of the President-General, the Speaker of the Grand Council for the time being shall succeed, and be vested with the same powers and authorities, to continue till the King’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.
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.
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.