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the British empire with the whole, of the members with the head, and to induce greater care and circumspection in making of the laws, that they be good in themselves and for the general benefit.
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.
It might be better, perhaps, as was said before, if the crown appointed a vice-president, to take place on the death or absence of the president-general; for so we should be more sure of a suitable person at the head of the colonies. On the death or absence of both, the speaker to take place (or rather the eldest King's governor) till his Majesty'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.
It was thought it might be very prejudicial to the service, to have officers appointed unknown to the people, or unacceptable, the generality of Americans serving willingly under officers they know; and not caring to engage in the service under strangers, or such as are often appointed by governors through favor or interest. The service here meant, is not the stated, settled service in standing troops; but any sudden and short service, either for defence of our colonies, or invading the enemy's country; (such as the expedition to Cape Breton in the last war; in which many substantial farmers and tradesmen engaged as common soldiers, under officers of their own country, for whom they had an esteem and affection; who would not have engaged in a standing army, or under officers from England.) It was therefore thought best to give the council the power of approving the officers, which the people will look upon as a great security of their being good men. And without some such provision as this, it was thought the expense of engaging men in the service on any emergency would be much greater, and the number who could be induced to engage much less; and that therefore it would be most for the King's service and general benefit of the nation, that the prerogative should relax a little in this particular throughout all the colonies in America; as it had already done much more in the charters of some particular colonies, viz. Connecticut and Rhode Island.
The civil officers will be chiefly treasurers and collectors of taxes; and the suitable persons are most likely to be known by the council.
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.
The vacancies were thought best supplied by the governors in each province, till a new appointment can be regularly made; otherwise the service might suffer before the meeting of the president-general and grand council.
EACH COLONY MAY DEFEND ITSELF ON EMER
GENCY, &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.
Otherwise the union of the whole would weaken the parts, contrary to the design of the union. The accounts are to be judged of by the president-general and grand council, and allowed if found reasonable. This was thought necessary to encourage colonies to defend themselves, as the expense would be light when borne by the whole; and also to check imprudent and lavish expense in such defences.
THREE LETTERS TO GOVERNOR SHIRLEY.
It is stated by Mr. Vaughan, that these letters first appeared in the London Chronicle for February 6th and 8th, 1766, with prefatory remarks signed “A LOVER OF BRITAIN."
• The Albany Plan of Union,” says this writer, was sent to the government here for approbation. Had it been approved and established by the authority from hence, English America thought itself sufficiently able to cope with the French, without other assistance; several of the colonies having alone, in former wars, withstood the whole power of the enemy, unassisted not only by the mother country, but by any of the neighbouring provinces. The plan, however, was not approved here; but a new one was formed instead of it; by which it was proposed, that the governors of all the colonies, attended by one or two members of their respective councils, should assemble, and concert measures for the defence of the whole, erect forts where they judged proper, and raise what troops they thought necessary, with power to draw on the treasury here for the sums that should be wanted, and the treasury to be reimbursed by a tax laid on the colonies by act of Parliament.' This new plan, being communicated by Governor Shirley to a gentleman of Philadelphia (Dr. Franklin) then in Boston (who has very eminently distinguished himself, before and since that time, in the literary world, and whose judgment, penetration, and candor, as well as his readiness and ability to suggest, forward, or carry into execution, every scheme of public utility, hath most deservedly endeared him, not only to our fellow-subjects throughout the continent of North America, but to his numberless friends on this side the Atlantic), occasioned the following remarks from him, which perhaps may contribute in some degree to its being laid aside. As they very particularly show the then sentiments of the Americans on the subject of a parliamentary tax, before the French power in that country was subjected, and before the late restraints on their commerce; they satisfy me, and I hope they will convince your readers, contrary to what has been advanced by some of your correspondents, that those particulars have had no share in producing the present opposition to such a tax, nor in disturbances occasioned by it, which these papers indeed do almost prophetically foretell."
In the beginning of the year 1776, these letters were republished in Almon's Remembrancer, preceded by a long introductory article, in which it is said, “that the great importance of the subject, the arguments of the letters, the wisdom of the writer, the correspondence of facts with his conjectures, and the early time at which they appeared,” were the inducements for then bringing them to the notice of the government. It is true, indeed, that the principles of colonial taxation, so much insisted on eleven years afterwards in the affair of the Stamp Act, are most clearly and ably stated in these letters, as also the reasons for a colonial representation in Parliament. They afford convincing proof, that, even at so early a day, the author had thought profoundly on the political condition of his country, and the relations in which it stood to the government of Great Britain; and that he had examined with an almost prophetic sagacity the habits, wants, temper, and other characteristics of the people. Governor Hutchinson, says; “This correspondence was carried on with great privacy.” Although he does not approve the sentiments advanced in the Letters, yet he allows they are
very ingenious." What impression they made on Governor Shirley, is not known; but he was so strong an advocate for the prerogative of the King and the power of Parliament, that it cannot be supposed his mind was in a state to be easily influenced by arguments of a contrary tendency. It is probable, however, that he was not particularly hostile to the Albany Plan, for he was looked upon by many persons, if that plan should go into operation, as the most prominent candidate for the high post of President-General. He soon discovered that the Massachusetts legislature was not inclined to favor the plan, and he kept aloof from all public measures in regard to it. — EDITOR.
LET TER I.
CONCERNING THE VOICE OF THE PEOPLE IN CHOOSING THE
Tuesday Morning, (December 17th, 1754.)
I return you the loose sheets of the plan, with thanks to your Excellency for communicating them.
I apprehend, that excluding the people of the colo