Articles of Confederation

Articles of Confederation

Members of the Continental Congress recognized that some form of cohesiveness, between the thirteen American colonies, would be needed if the colonies were to break-away from England (their "mother country").

At the same time as Thomas Jefferson was tasked with drafting the Declaration of Independence, another committee was working on a way for the colonies to function together as a country (rather than as a group of loosely affiliated states with differing, or competitive, interests). The Continental Congress resolved:

...that a committee be appointed to prepare and digest the form of a confederation to be entered into between these colonies. (Resolution passed on June 11, 1776.)

The 13-man committee consisted of one person, from each of the thirteen colonies. These individuals would recommend the best form of government to manage the newly formed country after the colonies broke-away from Britain.

Eight days after the Congressional Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence—and one month to the day after they were appointed to think about the country's form of government—the committee members presented their proposed "Articles of Confederation" on July 12, 1776.

Without making substantive changes to the draft Articles, members of the Congressional Congress adopted them on November 15, 1777. It took even more time—until March 1, 1781—for the last of the thirteen states (Maryland) to ratify the Articles of Confederation.

America now had its first constitution.

Six years later—on February 21, 1787—Congress approved a plan to hold a convention in Philadelphia. The focus of that convention was the revision of the Articles of Confederation (because they were not working very well as the basis of a national government).

The Library of Congress briefly describes the Articles of Confederation as follows: 

The Continental Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation, the first constitution of the United States, on November 15, 1777. However, ratification of the Articles of Confederation by all thirteen states did not occur until March 1, 1781. The Articles created a loose confederation of sovereign states and a weak central government, leaving most of the power with the state governments.

The need for a stronger Federal government soon became apparent and eventually led to the Constitutional Convention in 1787. The present United States Constitution replaced the Articles of Confederation on March 4, 1789. (See Library of Congress Web Guide "Primary Documents in American History: The Articles of Confederation.")

Click on the image for a better view of this document which envisioned "A Perpetual Union" between the original thirteen states.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 07, 2013

Updated Last Revision: Feb 26, 2020

Media Credits

Image, quote and information from the Library of Congress.


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"Articles of Confederation" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Feb 25, 2020.
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