What follows is one of the earliest known plans for union among the Colonies as proposed by William Penn before the London Board of Trade in 1697.
A brief and plain scheme how the English colonies in the North parts of America, – viz., Boston, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jerseys, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and Carolina, – may be made more useful to the crown and one another’s peace and safety with an universal concurrence.
That the several colonies before mentioned do meet once a year, and oftener if need be during the war, and at least once in two years in times of peace, by their stated and appointed deputies, to debate and resolve of such measures as are most advisable for their better understanding and the public tranquility and safety.
That, in order to it, two persons, well qualified for sense, sobriety, and substance, be appointed by each province as their representatives or deputies, which in the whole make the congress to consist of twenty persons.
That the king’s commissioner, for that purpose specially appointed, shall have the chair and preside in the said congress.
That they shall meet as near as conveniently may be to the most central colony for ease of the deputies.
Since that may in all probability be New York, both because it is near the center of the colonies and for that it is a frontier and in the king’s nomination, the governor of that colony may therefore also be the king’s high commissioner during the session, after the manner of Scotland.
That their business shall be to hear and adjust all matters of complaint or difference between province and province. As, 1st, where persons quit their own province and go to another, that they may avoid their just debts, though they be able to pay them; 2nd, where offenders fly justice, or justice cannot well be had upon such offenders in the provinces that entertain them; 3rd, to prevent or cure injuries in point of commerce; 4th, to consider the ways and means to support the union and safety of these provinces against the public enemies. In which congress the quotas of men and charges will be much easier and more equally set than it is possible for any establishment made here to do; for the provinces, knowing their own condition and one another’s, can debate that matter with more freedom and satisfaction, and better adjust and balance their affairs in all respects for their common safety.
That, in times of war, the king’s high commissioner shall be general or chief commander of the several quotas upon service against the common enemy, as he shall be advised, for the good and benefit of the whole.