The reason behind Franklin's Albany Plan of Union is the French and Indian War. The French and Indian War started because British colonists were said to be moving in on territory that the French had claimed for themselves. Then, in 1753, the French started constructing a chain of forts connecting Lake Erie with the Ohio River. This caused the governor of Virginia to send George Washington, who was a 21-year-old surveyor from Virginia, to warn the French in the Ohio Valley that the land belonged to the British. As it turns out, the land was originally granted to Virginia by the charter of 1609. The French decided to ignore the warning from Washington.

In early 1754, the Virginians were considering military measures in the country to the west, and requesting aid from the Pennsylvania province. Quaker reluctance toward involvement in "aggressive action," and a feeling by the proprietary party of "let's wait and see if anything beyond Virginian interests are threatened," resulted in no aid being extended.

The following year, Washington went back to the Ohio Valley as a major who was leading a company of militia. A few miles south of the French Fort Duquesne, he built Fort Necessity. Fort Duquesne was located where the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers join to form the Ohio River. There was a battle fought at Fort Necessity on July 4, 1754 in which a small force of French and Indian Troops defeated Washington and his troops.

The French were now securely established along a line of spread out points from the Great Lakes south to the Ohio River. They also had camps in the Allegheny Mountains. The whole northern frontier of the British colonies was exposed to attack from the Indian allies of the French. In addition, the western country was closed to British traders and British settlers.

It was then that the Lords of Trade ordered that a congress of commissioners from the different colonies were assembled in Albany to consult with the chiefs of the Six Nations concerning the method of defending both their country and ours. Governor Hamilton received the order and introduced it to the house. He requested that there be proper representation for the Indians on this occasion. He also named the speaker, Mr. Norris, and Benjamin Franklin to join Mr. Thomas Penn and Mr. Secretary Peters as commissioners to act on behalf of Pennsylvania. The House approved the nominations and they met the other commissioners at Albany in the middle of June of 1754.

When Franklin left for Albany, his natural son William took over Franklin's position as clerk for the Pennsylvania Assembly. He was almost twenty-three at this time. It was not easy for William to be Benjamin Franklin's son. Franklin loved his son. He affectionately called him Billy. Franklin also enjoyed having Billy join him as a companion on journeys. Like his father had, Billy ran away at fifteen. He was found and brought home before he could get out of Philadelphia. Next, Billy enlisted with the troops and spent a winter in camp at Albany, fighting in King George's War. At nineteen, Billy had traveled with Conrad Weiser and a group out to Logstown on the Ohio River for the purpose of negotiating with the Iroquois, Delawares, and Shawnees. He was not very different from his father.

Part of the reason that Franklin went was because of his May 9 plea for a continental union of the kind he had been pondering for the last three years. His chance to achieve it was when he got the invitation from the Board of Trade for a meeting in Albany. Also called to Albany were Isaac Norris, at fifty-three, served as Speaker of the House and leader of the Quaker party, Richard Peters, private secretary to the Penn family in England, and John Penn, who did not have much experience in politics.

The slogan "JOIN OR DIE" was printed in the Pennsylvania Gazette. Franklin is also credited with the first American newspaper cartoon. It was a drawing of a snake cut into eight sections, each labeled with the initials of one of the colonies, and had the caption, "JOIN OR DIE."

Everyone had his own agenda in Albany. For Franklin, it was, of course, his plan of union. He also actively opposed the Penn interests. John