« AnteriorContinuar »
The first volume of the Massachusetts Historical Collections was printed in 1792. Since that time the Society has completed the First and Second Series, each comprising ten volumes; and this is the fifth volume of the Third Series.
The labor of preparing these volumes for the press has been performed gratuitously; they have been published at the expense of the Society; and the sales have not been sufficient to reimburse the cost. Little effort has been made to extend their sale, as it has not been an object of the Society to make them a source of income.
At a meeting of the Society April 30, 1835, it was voted to invite a subscription to the work, to publish one volume annually, and to put the price at one dollar a volume.
JOSEPH E. WORCESTER, JOSEPH B. FELT, ALEXANDER YOUNG, CONVERS FRANCIS, August 15, 1836.
Publishing Committee of this Volume.
The Publishing Committee of the next volume are Hon. NAHUM MITCHELL, Rev. ALEXANDER YOUNG, LEMUEL SHATTUCK, Esq. of Boston, and Rev. SAMUEL SEWALL, of Burlington, to whom all communications and manuscripts intended for publication, may be addressed.
JOURNAL OF THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE CONGRESS HELD AT ALBANY, IN 1754.
[THE following Journal of the Commissioners who met in Congress at Albany, in 1754, for the purpose of treating with the Six Nations of Indians and concerting a scheme of general union of the British American Colonies, is printed from a heretofore unpublished Manuscript deposited in the Library of the Historical Society. Of this assembly Hutchinson, in his History of Massachusetts, Vol. III. p. 20, justly remarks, that it
was the most deserving of respect of any which had ever been convened in America, whether we consider the Colonies which were represented, the rank and characters of the delegates, or the purposes for which it was convened.'
Some use was made of this MS. Journal by Mr. Minot, in his Continuation of the History of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, Vol. I. p. 188, where may be found "The Plan of Union" which was drawn up by Dr. Franklin, and agreed to by the Convention. This Plan, with reasons and motives for each article, is contained in the different editions of Franklin's Writings; and an imperfect form of the same instrument has been inserted in the 7th volume of the First Series of our Collections, page 203.
This Convention assembled, as it appears by the Journal, in 1754, on the 19th of June, though it is stated in the 7th volume of the Collections, pp. 75 and 203, and in various other authorities, that it met on the 14th of June; and it was dissolved, as it is mentioned on the 77th page of the same volume, on the 11th of July. But the Journal breaks off abruptly on the 10th of July, without giving the Plan of Union that was agreed
Mr. Sparks, in his edition of Franklin's Writings, has made, in relation to this Convention and Plan of Union, a statement of facts and some remarks, from which we make the following extracts.
"The prospect of a French war, and the hostile attitude already assumed by tribes of Indians on the frontiers, induced the British Government to seek for the means of providing for a timely and efficient re
sistance in the Colonies. With a view to this end an order was sent over by the Lords of Trade, directing that Commissioners should be appointed in several of the Provinces to assemble at Albany. The immediate object was to conciliate the Six Nations, by giving them presents, and renewing a treaty, by which they should be prevented from going over to the French, or being drawn away by the Indians under their influence.
"The day appointed for the assembling of the Commissioners was the 14th of June, 1754, at Albany, but they did not meet till the 19th; when it was found that the following Colonies were represented, namely, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. The whole number appointed was twentyfive, who all attended.
"Before Franklin [one of the delegates from Pennsylvania] arrived in Albany he had sketched the outline of a plan, which he had shown to some of his friends in New York, particularly to James Alexander and Mr. Kennedy, who he says were "gentlemen of great knowledge in public affairs." He obtained their remarks on his project, as well as those of Cadwallader Colden, afterwards Lieutenant-Governor of New York, and celebrated for his talents and learning. When the members of the Committee met, several plans were presented, but after consultation the preference was given to Franklin's, which was reported to the Convention on the 28th of June. The debates on the various topics embraced in the plan continued for twelve days. It was considered a question of moment, whether an act of Parliament was not necessary to establish such a union. This question was decided in the affirmative. The Convention dissolved on the 11th of July, and the Plan of Union was adopted on that day or the day preceding.
"It is a singular fact, that Franklin and Hutchinson, who were members of the Convention, and Pownall, who was in Albany at the time, all say that the Plan was unanimously agreed to. Hutchinson's History of Massachusetts, Vol. III. p. 23. Whereas it is affirmed by Dr. Trumbull, that the "Commissioners from Connecticut were wholly opposed to the plan; they imagined that it was dangerous to the liberties of the Colonies, and that such a government would not act with that despatch and energy, which might be reasonably expected by his Majesty." History of Connecticut, Vol. II. p. 355. The same assertion is contained in a paper published by the Assembly of Connecticut, assigning reasons for not acceding to the Albany Plan of Union. It is not easy to explain this discrepancy. As the Connecticut delegates voted at first, with the others, that some plan of union was necessary, perhaps they did not
openly oppose the one that was adopted, but acquiesced, and hence it was inferred that they approved it. *
"But whatever unanimity there was in the convention, the Plan of Union met with very little favor abroad. It was rejected by all the Colonial Assemblies before which it was brought. In England it was so unacceptable to the Board of Trade, that they 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." Considering this rejection by the two parties for opposite reasons, it was his opinion thirty years afterwards, that his plan was near the true medium. The British Government had another scheme, by which the governors of the Provinces, and certain members of the councils, were to assemble at stated times and transact affairs relating to war and to general defence. This was carried into partial effect in the case of General Braddock, and on one or two other occasions.
"The governor of Virginia did not send delegates to the Albany Convention. He was so much occupied with the French on the frontiers of that Province, and with projects for Indian alliances, that he had no leisure for other undertakings In a letter to Lieutenant-Governor Delancey, dated March 21st, he says; "As to the concerting of measures with the other governments, the time will not admit of it, as what is to be done must be done immediately. I hope to see at least two of the Chiefs of the Six Nations at Winchester in May, as the design of that meeting is to make a peace between the Northern and Southern Indians; after which to make a strict alliance between them and all the British sub
jects on this continent." Dinwiddie's MS. Letter-Books. The governor failed, however, in this vast project. The meeting at Winchester was attended by a few Indians only, of subordinate rank, who came chiefly to receive his presents, and nothing was done. In truth he had a scheme of his own, which stood in the way of his joining in a general union. The year before he had recommended to the Board of Trade, that the colonies should be divided into two parts, constituting a northern and southern district, in each of which some kind of supervising power was to be established. Similar views were entertained by other persons, and were discussed in the Albany Convention.
"There are evidences that Franklin's thoughts had been for some time turned to a union of the Colonies. He had thrown out hints to this
[* Gov. Livingston, (1 Hist. Coll. VII. 77) says that the Plan " was approved at the time by every member of the Congress except Mr. Delancey ;" and Smith, in his History of New York, II., 183, says, except Mr. Delancey, every member consented to this Plan, and he made no great opposition."-Publisking Committee.]
effect in his newspaper. The Pennsylvania Gazette for May 9th, 1754, contains an account 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. The article was undoubtedly written by the editor. 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 great advantage of being under one direction, with one council, and one purse." At the end of the article is a wood-cut, 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 well known, that this device was adopted with considerable effect at the beginning of the Revolution. In some of the newspapers of that day the mutilated snake makes a conspicuous head-piece, running across the page, and accompanied with the same significant motto."
[As the Plan of Union which has been inserted in the 7th volume of the Collections above referred to, is imperfect, it is thought advisable to reprint this document in an authentic form from the Writings of Franklin. It will be found at the end of the Journal.-Publishing Committee.]