Articles of Confederation

Articles of Confederation American History History Law and Politics Social Studies Government

This image depicts the now highly faded Articles of Confederation which the newly formed country adopted on November 15, 1777.  This document was effectively America's first constitution.

It gave most of the power to the individual States and did not call for a strong central (federal) government.  It was in force between March 1, 1781 until 1789 when the still-used U.S. Constitution went into effect. 

The Library of Congress provides more information about this document (and why it was not particularly effective in establishing a workable central government):

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.

Click on the image for a better view.

Media Credits

Image online, courtesy U.S. National Archives. PD


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