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Outlines of the plan of confederacy submitted to congress by Dr. Franklin, July, 1775
-Not acted upon-June 11th, 1776, congress appoint a committee of one from a state to prepare a plan of confederation-Plan reported July following—Is debated in congress at various times until the 15th of November, 1777, when it is adopted -Outlines of the system-Congress divided as to terms of union-Particularly the mode of voting in congress, the rule of apportioning expenses among the states, and the disposition of the western lands—Articles sent to the several states with a circular letter-Adopted by some states without amendment-Principal amendments proposed by several states All the states except New Jersey, Delaware and Mary. land, instruct their delegates to ratify and sign the articles, if their amendments should be rejected by congress Objections of New Jersey-Congress nearly equally divided on the amendment proposed about the western lands—Articles ratified by New Jersey and Delaware—Maryland gives special instructions to her delegates not to ratify them, without an amendment securing the western lands for the benefit of the union—These instructions laid before congress States of Virginia and Connecticut empower their delegates to agree to the confederacy, exclusive of Maryland -Other states unwilling to do this—Compromise about the westem lands—New York cedes for the benefit of the union her claim to lands west of a certain lineCongress recommend to the other states to make liberal cessions for the same purpose-Virginia cedes her right to the country north west of the Ohio-Maryland accedes to the union, and the articles signed by her delegates March first, 1781— the union then completed.
It will be remembered, that in the summer of 1775, Dr. Franklin submitted to congress, articles of confederation and perpetual union among the colonies, but which were not finally acted upon. A majority in that body were not then prepared for so decisive a step. The purport of his plan was, that the colonies
entered " into a firm league of friendship with each other, binding on themselves and their posterity, for the common defense against their enemies, for the security of their liberties and properties, Vol. II.
the safety of their persons and families, and their mutual and general welfare."
Each colony was to retain its own laws, customs, rights, privileges and peculiar jurisdiction ; delegates to be chosen from each colony annually, to meet in congress; and their sessions were to be held in each colony by rotation; congress to have the power of determining on war and peace; sending and receiving ambassadors, and entering into alliances (the reconciliation with Great Britain;) settling disputes and differences between colony and colony about limits or any other cause; and the planting of new colonies, when proper. To have power " to make such general ordinances as, though necessary to the general welfare, particular assemblies cannot be competent to use; those that may relate to general commerce, or general currency; the establishment of posts; and the regulation of the common forces : And the appointment of all general officers, civil and military, appertaining to the general confederacy."
The charges of war, and all other general expenses incurred for the common welfare, to be defrayed out of a common treasury, to be supplied by each colony, in proportion to its number of male polls between sixteen and sixty years of age; the taxes for paying such proportion to be laid and levied by each colony.
The number of delegates from each colony was to be regulated, from time to time, by the number of such polls returned, one delegate to be allowed for every five thousand polls, and the number to be taken triennially. One half of the members, “inclusive of proxies,” to be necessary for a quorum, and each delcgate to have a vote in all cases, and if ausent, might appoint any other delegate from the same colony, his proxy, to vote for him.
An executive council was to be appointed by congress out of their own body, to consist of twelve persons; of whom in the first appointment, one third, viz. “ four shall be for one year, four for two years, and four for three years; and as the said terms expire, the vacancies shall be filled by appointments for three years ; whereby one third of the members will be changed annually.”
“ This council, (two thirds to be a quorum in the recess of congress,) are to execute what shall have been enjoined by that body;
to manage the general continental business, and interests; to receive applications from foreign countries ; to prepare matters for the consideration of congress; to fill up, pro tempore, continental offices that fall vacant; and to draw on the general treasurer for such moneys as may be necessary for general services, and appropriated by the congress to such services."
No colony to engage in offensive war with any nation of Indians without the consent of congress. A perpetual alliance, offensive and defensive, was to be entered into with the six nations of Indians; their limits to be ascertained and their lands secured to them, not encroached upon, nor any purchases made of them by any colony. The boundaries and lands of all the other Indians to be ascertained and secured in the same manner; and persons to be appointed to reside among them, and prevent injustice in the trade with them, and to relieve at the general expense, “by occasional and small supplies,” their personal wants and distresses. And all purchases from them to be by congress, for the general advantage and benefit of the United States. Congress was empowered from time to time, to propose amendments, which, if approved by a majority of the colony assemblies, to be binding
The other British colonies upon the continent of North America, were permitted to join the confederacy. These articles, if approved by the several provincial conventions or assemblies, were “ to continue firm till the terms of reconciliation proposed in the petition of the last congress to the king are agreed to; till the acts since made, restraining the American commerce and fisheries are repealed ; till reparation is made for the injury done to Boston, by shutting up its port; for the burning of Charlestown; and for the expense of this unjust war, and till all the British troops are withdrawn from America. On the arrival of these events, the colonies will return to their former connexion and friendship with Britain, but on failure thereof, this confederation to be perpetual."
The subject of a compact between the colonies, remained in this situation, until June, 1776. A majority of congress having