Albany Congress , a conference held in Albany, New York, in 1754 to prepare a unified colonial defense against the French and their Indian allies. At this meeting, Benjamin Franklin presented a precedent-setting proposal for union of the British North American colonies; it was later known as the Albany Plan of Union. The congress had been called by the British government primarily to renew an alliance with the Iroquois Indians guaranteeing their loyalty in the event of war with the French.
The French and Indian War had begun by the time the congress met. Attending the conference were 150 Iroquois chiefs and delegations from seven colonies—Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Maryland.
During a debate on the need for a permanent intercolonial union for defense Franklin introduced his plan. It provided for a union of the colonies to be governed by a president-general appointed by the king and a grand council of delegates chosen by the colonial assemblies. Representation was to be based on the amount of taxes contributed to the general treasury. The council was to pass laws, control Indian affairs, levy taxes, and raise armies, subject to the presidentgeneral's veto. It also was to have the power to declare war and make peace.
Although they found it only partly satisfactory, the Iroquois chiefs signed a treaty with the delegates. The delegates then unanimously adopted the Albany Plan and submitted it for approval to the colonial assemblies and the British Lords of Trade. Both the colonies and the British rejected the proposal. Franklin later wrote, “the assemblies . . . thought there was too much prerogative in it, and in England it was judged to have too much of the democratic.” The plan, however, served as a guide for the drafters of the Articles of Confederation and, later, the federal Constitution.