Historical Documents

of the United States of America

The Plan Of Union By William Penn ~ 1697

Enacted 08 February 1697


William Penn wanted to initiate the unification of the English colonies in North America. To that end, he proposed this Plan Of Union to the Board Of Trade. Apparently, the Board Of Trade proposed consolidating the colonies; this plan opposed that by simply providing for the individual colonies to function together. It should be noted that in the preface, the name, Boston, referred to the entire Massachusetts-Bay colony.


     A Briefe and Plaine Scheam how the English Collonies in the North Parts of America viz.: Boston, Conetticut, Road Island, New York, New Jerseys, Pensilvania, Maryland, Virginia and Carolina may be made more usefull to the Crowne, and one anothers Peace and safty with an Universall Concurrence.
     1st. That the severall Collonies before mentioned, do meet once a year, and oftner if need be, dureing the Warr, and at least once in two yeares in times of Peace, by their Stated and Appointed Deputies, to Debate and Resolve of such Measures, as are most adviseable for their better understanding, and their Publick Tranquillity and Safety.
     2dly. That in Order to it two persons, well Qualified, for Sence Sobriety and Substance, be appointed by each Province, as their Representatives or Deputies; which in the whole make the Congresse to Consist of Twenty persons.
     3dly. That the Kings Comr, for that purpose specially appointed, shall have the Chaire, and Preside in the said Congresse.
     4thly. That they shall meet as neer as Conveniently may be, to the most Centrall Colony for ease of the Deputies.
     5thly. Since that may, in all Probability, be New Yorke, both because it is neer the Center of the Collonys, and for that it is a Fronteir, and in the Kings Nomination, the Governour of that Colony may therefore also be the Kings high Comr during the Session, after the manner of Scotland.
     6thly. That their businesse shall be {to} hear and Adjust all matters of Complaint or difference Betweene Province and Province; as 1st where Persons quit their own province and go to another, that they may avoid their Just debts, tho' able to Pay them. 2dly where Offenders fly Justice, or Justice cannot well be had upon such offenders in the Provinces that entertaine them, 3dly to prevent or cure Injuries in point of Commerce. 4thly To Consider of wayes and meanes to support the Union and safety of these Provinces against the Publick Enemies; In which Congress the Quota's of Men and Charges will be much easier, and more equally sett, then it is Possible for any Establishment made here to do: for the Provinces knowing their own Condition and one anothers, can debate that matter with more freedome and satisfaction, and better adjust and ballance their affaires in all respects for their Common safety.
     7thly. That in times of War the Kings high Comr shall be Genll or Cheife Comander of the severall Quota's upon service against the Common Enemy, as he shall be advised, for the good and benefitt of the whole.
From The Papers Of William Penn, Volume Three 1685-1700, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1986, pages 482-483.