‘Join, Or Die': How The Albany Congress Tried to Unify America
The deeper I dig, the more history I find about the Capital Region, and the role that Albany played in the formation of modern-day America.
Named the capital of New York in 1797, the Empire State's capital was a central trading post for the state, and the Northeast, for many years, and is still acts as a central location for those coming from downstate, further upstate, Massachusetts and Connecticut.
Not only that, but back in 1754, Albany was the namesake for "The Albany Plan", a proposal that would eventually lead to monumental changes in the New World, and the popularization of one of the most famous political cartoons of all time.
What Was The Albany Plan?
Simply put, The Albany Plan was the first known formal plan presented to Congress, with the goal of unifying the colonies as one, sovereign nation.
Benjamin Franklin was the one that originally suggested the plan, which he had created partially as a strategy to help defend the colonies in the Seven Years' War, being fought by Great Britain and France. The northern colonies, including those in New England, had been weakened by attacks from the north, and Franklin saw that weakening as the possible downfall of the New World.
So, he proposed a plan, the details of which are very similar to what Congress would end up approving in the years to come. He proposed one nation, with a "President General", and a government consisting of representatives from each colony. Each colony would get a certain number of representatives, relative to colony size.
Sounds familiar, right?
Another interesting byproduct of The Albany Plan, was the publication of the "Join, or Die" cartoon snake.
If you haven't seen it, here's a bit on its creation:
The cartoon has since become synonymous with democracy in America, and was used in other contexts following The Albany Plan to promote unity against the opposition.
What Would Happen After The Albany Plan?
Though it was discussed by the Albany Congress, the plan was ultimately shot down. It did, however, become the catalyst for a number of other plans. There were multiple that were proposed to Congress, preaching the unification of the colonies, that were shot down.
Ultimately, however, it was the Articles of Confederation, penned 23 years after The Albany Plan, that would lead to the unification of the colonies, the eventual ratification of the Constitution, and the formation of modern-day America.
Without The Albany Plan, however, we may never have officially come together.