History Brief: The Albany Plan of Union and Committees of Correspondence

One important element that led to the War
for Independence was a growing sense of unity among the thirteen colonies. In the decades prior to the Revolutionary
War, a series of meetings and agreements between colonial leaders laid the foundation for a
framework that led to American independence. The Albany Plan of Union was a 1754 proposal
aimed at building a union of the colonies under a single government. The French and Indian War had just begun,
and many argued that the Albany Union was justified to coordinate a defense against
the alliance of French and Indian forces threatening the American colonies. The Union was proposed by Benjamin Franklin,
and it marked the first time in the 1700s that colonial representatives met to discuss
a plan for creating a formal union. Eleven colonies sent delegates, with Georgia
and Delaware opting not to attend. The delegates agreed to Franklin’s proposal
and copies of the Albany Plan were sent to colonial assemblies and the British Board
of Trade in London. The plan was rejected by colonial leaders
and the British Government, who, weary of their colonies’ growing independent drive,
told them to concentrate on raising armies and constructing forts to defend their territory. Although the Albany Plan of Union did not
go into effect, many of Franklin’s ideas were revived and later implemented into the
Articles of Confederation and even the U.S. Constitution. Once the French and Indian War concluded,
the relationship between Britain and its colonies quickly soured. The Albany Plan had included a system in which
the American colonies could have funded the war through a series of taxes, but Parliament
instead chose to fund the war through the British Treasury. At the conclusion of the conflict, the British
intended to raise the funds from the colonies through a new series of direct taxation. Americans resented the efforts by King George
III and Parliament to exert authority over the colonies. Committees of Correspondence were organized
by colonial leaders, and they coordinated resistance to British policies, enforcing
colonial boycotts against British goods and informing one another of British abuses of
power in each American colony. The intricate network of communication went
even further in creating a partnership and camaraderie that stretched from Georgia to
Massachusetts. The Committees of Correspondence helped in
setting up the First Continental Congress and served vital roles in the Revolutionary
War by rallying opposition to British maneuvers, establishing a far-reaching spy network, and
maintaining political union among the colonies. An estimated 8,000 colonists served on these
committees at the colonial and local levels, becoming the true leaders of the American
resistance by encouraging patriotism and resistance to British imperialism.


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