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The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union was an agreement among the 13 original states of the
United States of America The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country in . It consists of 50 , a , five major , 326 , and some . At , it is the world's . The United States shares significan ...

United States of America
that served as its first constitution. It was approved after much debate (between July 1776 and November 1777) by the
Second Continental Congress The Second Continental Congress was a meeting of delegates from the Thirteen Colonies The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colonies or the Thirteen American Colonies, were a group of Kingdom of Great Britain, British c ...
on November 15, 1777 and sent to the states for
ratification Ratification is a principal Principal may refer to: Title or rank * Principal (academia) The principal is the chief executive and the chief academic officer of a university A university ( la, universitas, 'a whole') is an educational insti ...

ratification
. The Articles of Confederation
came into force In law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its bo ...
on March 1, 1781, after ratification by all the states. A guiding principle of the Articles was to preserve the
independence upright=1.0, Pedro surrounded by a crowd in Brazil's independence on September 7, 1822.">Independence of Brazil">Brazil's independence on September 7, 1822. Independence is a condition of a person, nation, country, or state State may ref ...

independence
and
sovereignty Sovereignty is the supreme authority within a territory. Sovereignty entails hierarchy within the state, as well as external autonomy for states. In any state, sovereignty is assigned to the person, body, or institution that has the ultimate au ...
of the states. The weak
central government A central government is the government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthl ...
established by the Articles received only those powers which the former colonies had recognized as belonging to king and parliament. The document provided clearly written rules for how the states' "league of friendship" would be organized. During the ratification process, the Congress looked to the Articles for guidance as it conducted business, directing the
war effort In politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions In psychology, decision-making (also spelled decision making and decisionmaking) is regarded as the Cognition, cognitive process resulting in ...
, conducting diplomacy with foreign states, addressing territorial issues and dealing with Native American relations. Little changed politically once the Articles of Confederation went into effect, as ratification did little more than legalize what the Continental Congress had been doing. That body was renamed the Congress of the Confederation; but most Americans continued to call it the ''Continental Congress'', since its organization remained the same. As the Confederation Congress attempted to govern the continually growing American states, delegates discovered that the limitations placed upon the central government rendered it ineffective at doing so. As the government's weaknesses became apparent, especially after
Shays' Rebellion Shays Rebellion was an armed uprising in Western Massachusetts and Worcester, Massachusetts, Worcester in response to a debt crisis among the citizenry and in opposition to the state government's increased efforts to collect taxes both on individu ...

Shays' Rebellion
, some prominent political thinkers in the fledgling union began asking for changes to the Articles. Their hope was to create a stronger government. Initially, some states met to deal with their trade and economic problems. However, as more states became interested in meeting to change the Articles, a meeting was set in Philadelphia on May 25, 1787. This became the Constitutional Convention. It was quickly agreed that changes would not work, and instead the entire Articles needed to be replaced. On March 4, 1789, the government under the Articles was replaced with the
federal government A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized ...
under the
Constitution A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law, it is a rule Rule or ruling may refer to: Human activity * The exercise of political ...

Constitution
. The new Constitution provided for a much stronger federal government by establishing a chief executive (the
President President most commonly refers to: *President (corporate title) A president is a leader of an organization, company, community, club, trade union, university or other group. The relationship between a president and a Chief Executive Officer, chi ...

President
), courts, and taxing powers.


Background and context

The political push to increase cooperation among the then-loyal colonies began with the
Albany Congress ) Albany, New York The Albany Congress (June 19 – July 11, 1754), also known as the Albany Convention of 1754, was a meeting of representatives sent by the legislatures of seven of the thirteen British colonies in British America Briti ...
in 1754 and
Benjamin Franklin Benjamin Franklin ( April 17, 1790) was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States that was negotiated on behalf of the United States by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and John Jay The Founding Fathers of the United States, or simp ...

Benjamin Franklin
's proposed
Albany Plan The Albany Plan of Union was a plan to create a unified government for the Thirteen Colonies The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colonies or the Thirteen American Colonies, were a group of Kingdom of Great Britain, Britis ...
, an inter-colonial collaboration to help solve mutual local problems. Over the next two decades, some of the basic concepts it addressed would strengthen; others would weaken, especially in the degree of loyalty (or lack thereof) owed the Crown.
Civil disobedience Civil disobedience is the active, professed refusal of a citizen Citizenship is a relationship between an individual and a state to which the individual owes allegiance and in turn is entitled to its protection. Each state determines the co ...

Civil disobedience
resulted in coercive and quelling measures, such as the passage of what the colonials referred to as the
Intolerable Acts The Intolerable Acts were punitive laws passed by the British Parliament The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the Parliamentary sovereignty in the United Kingdom, supreme Legislature, legislative body of the United Kingdom, the Crown dep ...
in the British Parliament, and armed skirmishes which resulted in dissidents being proclaimed rebels. These actions eroded the number of Crown Loyalists (
Tories A Tory () is a person who holds a political philosophy Political philosophy is the philosophical study of government, addressing questions about the nature, scope, and legitimacy of public agents and institutions and the relationships between ...
) among the colonials and, together with the highly effective propaganda campaign of the Patriot leaders, caused an increasing number of colonists to begin agitating for independence from the mother country. In 1775, with events outpacing communications, the
Second Continental Congress The Second Continental Congress was a meeting of delegates from the Thirteen Colonies The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colonies or the Thirteen American Colonies, were a group of Kingdom of Great Britain, British c ...
began acting as the
provisional government A provisional government, also called an interim government, an emergency government, or a transitional government, is an emergency government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a S ...
. It was an era of constitution writing—most states were busy at the task—and leaders felt the new nation must have a written constitution; a "rulebook" for how the new nation should function. During the war, Congress exercised an unprecedented level of political, diplomatic, military and economic authority. It adopted trade restrictions, established and maintained an army, issued
fiat money Fiat money (from la, fiat, ) is a type of money that is not backed by any commodity such as gold or silver, and typically declared by a decree A decree is a rule of law usually issued by a head of state A head of state (or chief of sta ...
, created a military code and negotiated with foreign governments. To transform themselves from outlaws into a legitimate nation, the colonists needed international recognition for their cause and foreign allies to support it. In early 1776,
Thomas Paine Thomas Paine (born Thomas Pain; – In the contemporary record as noted by Conway, Paine's birth date is given as January 29, 1736–37. Common practice was to use a dash or a slash to separate the old-style year from the new-style year. In the ...

Thomas Paine
argued in the closing pages of the first edition of ''
Common Sense Common sense (often just known as sense) is sound, practical judgment concerning everyday matters, or a basic ability to Perception, perceive, Nous, understand, and Phronesis, judge in a manner that is shared by (i.e. ''common to'') nearly all ...
'' that the "custom of nations" demanded a formal declaration of American independence if any European power were to mediate a peace between the Americans and Great Britain. The monarchies of France and Spain, in particular, could not be expected to aid those they considered rebels against another legitimate monarch. Foreign courts needed to have American grievances laid before them persuasively in a "manifesto" which could also reassure them that the Americans would be reliable trading partners. Without such a declaration, Paine concluded, " e custom of all courts is against us, and will be so, until, by an independence, we take rank with other nations." Beyond improving their existing
association Association may refer to: *Club (organization), an association of two or more people united by a common interest or goal *Trade association, an organization founded and funded by businesses that operate in a specific industry *Voluntary association ...
, the records of the
Second Continental Congress The Second Continental Congress was a meeting of delegates from the Thirteen Colonies The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colonies or the Thirteen American Colonies, were a group of Kingdom of Great Britain, British c ...
show that the need for a declaration of independence was intimately linked with the demands of international relations. On June 7, 1776,
Richard Henry Lee Richard Henry Lee (January 20, 1732June 19, 1794) was an American statesman and Founding Father The following list of national founding figures is a record, by country, of people who were credited with establishing a state. National founder ...

Richard Henry Lee
introduced
a resolution
a resolution
before the Continental Congress declaring the colonies independent; at the same time, he also urged Congress to resolve "to take the most effectual measures for forming foreign Alliances" and to prepare a plan of confederation for the newly independent states. Congress then created three overlapping committees to draft the
Declaration Declaration may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''Declaration'' (book), a self-published electronic pamphlet by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri * ''The Declaration'' (novel), a 2008 children's novel by Gemma Malley Music ...

Declaration
, a model treaty, and the Articles of Confederation. The Declaration announced the states' entry into the international system; the model treaty was designed to establish amity and commerce with other states; and the Articles of Confederation, which established "a firm league" among the thirteen free and independent states, constituted an international agreement to set up central institutions for the conduct of vital domestic and foreign affairs.


Drafting

On June 12, 1776, a day after appointing a committee to prepare a draft of the
Declaration of Independence#REDIRECT Declaration of independence {{Redirect category shell, {{R from other capitalisation ...

Declaration of Independence
, the Second Continental Congress resolved to appoint a committee of 13 to prepare a draft of a constitution for a union of the states. The committee met frequently, and chairman
John Dickinson John Dickinson (November 13 Julian_calendar">/nowiki> Julian_calendar">/nowiki>Julian_calendar_November_2">Julian_calendar.html"_;"title="/nowiki>Julian_calendar">/nowiki>Julian_calendar_November_2_1732_–_February_14,_1808),_a_Founding_Fathe ...
presented their results to the Congress on July 12, 1776. Afterward, there were long debates on such issues as state
sovereignty Sovereignty is the supreme authority within a territory. Sovereignty entails hierarchy within the state, as well as external autonomy for states. In any state, sovereignty is assigned to the person, body, or institution that has the ultimate au ...
, the exact powers to be given to Congress, whether to have a judiciary,
western land claims The state cessions are those areas of the United States that the separate states ceded to the Federal government of the United States, federal government in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The cession of these lands, which for the most p ...
and voting procedures. To further complicate work on the constitution, Congress was forced to leave Philadelphia twice, for
Baltimore Baltimore ( , locally: ) is the most populous city The United Nations uses three definitions for what constitutes a city, as not all cities in all jurisdictions are classified using the same criteria. Cities may be defined as the city prop ...

Baltimore
, Maryland, in the winter of 1776, and later for
LancasterLancaster may refer to: Lands and titles *The County Palatine of Lancaster, a synonym for Lancashire *Duchy of Lancaster, one of only two British royal duchies *Duke of Lancaster *Earl of Lancaster *House of Lancaster, a British royal dynasty ...
then
York, Pennsylvania York (: ''Yarrick''), known as the White Rose City (after the ), is the of , United States, located in the region of the state. The population within York's city limits was 43,718 at the , a 7.0% increase from the 2000 census count of 40,862. ...

York, Pennsylvania
, in the fall of 1777, to evade advancing
British troops British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people The British people, or Britons, are the citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the British Overseas Territories, and the Crown dependenc ...
. Even so, the committee continued with its work. The final draft of the ''Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union'' was completed on November 15, 1777. Consensus was achieved by: including language guaranteeing that each state retained its sovereignty, leaving the matter of western land claims in the hands of the individual states, including language stating that votes in Congress would be ''en bloc'' by state, and establishing a
unicameral In government, unicameralism (Latin , "one" and , "chamber") is the practice of having a single legislative or legislative chamber, parliamentary chamber. Thus, a ''unicameral parliament'' or ''unicameral legislature'' is a legislature which co ...
legislature with limited and clearly delineated powers.


Ratification

The Articles of Confederation was submitted to the states for ratification in late November 1777. The first state to ratify was
Virginia Virginia (), officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a in the and regions of the , between the and the . The geography and climate of the are shaped by the and the , which provide habitat for much of its flora and fauna. The capit ...

Virginia
on December 16, 1777; 12 states had ratified the Articles by February 1779, 14 months into the process. The lone holdout, Maryland, refused to go along until the landed states, especially
Virginia Virginia (), officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a in the and regions of the , between the and the . The geography and climate of the are shaped by the and the , which provide habitat for much of its flora and fauna. The capit ...

Virginia
, had indicated they were prepared to cede their claims west of the
Ohio River The Ohio River is a long river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course wi ...

Ohio River
to the Union. It would be two years before the
Maryland General Assembly The Maryland General Assembly is the state legislature (United States), state legislature of the U.S. state of Maryland that convenes within the Maryland State House, State House in Annapolis. It is a bicameral body: the upper house, upper chambe ...
became satisfied that the various states would follow through, and voted to ratify. During this time, Congress observed the Articles as its
de facto ''De facto'' ( ; , "in fact") describes practices that exist in reality, even though they are not officially recognized by laws. It is commonly used to refer to what happens in practice, in contrast with ''de jure'' ("by law"), which refers to th ...
frame of government. Maryland finally ratified the Articles on February 2, 1781. Congress was informed of Maryland's assent on March 1, and officially proclaimed the Articles of Confederation to be the law of the land. The several states ratified the Articles of Confederation on the following dates:


Article summaries

The Articles of Confederation contain a
preamble A preamble is an introductory and expressionary statement in a document that explains the document's purpose and underlying philosophy. When applied to the opening paragraphs of a statute, it may recite historical facts pertinent to the subje ...

preamble
, thirteen articles, a conclusion, and a signatory section. The individual articles set the rules for current and future operations of the confederation's central government. Under the Articles, the states retained sovereignty over all governmental functions not specifically relinquished to the national Congress, which was empowered to make war and peace, negotiate diplomatic and commercial agreements with foreign countries, and to resolve disputes between the states. The document also stipulates that its provisions "shall be inviolably observed by every state" and that " the Union shall be perpetual". Summary of the purpose and content of each of the 13 articles: # Establishes the name of the confederation with these words: "The stile of this confederacy shall be 'The United States of America.'" # Asserts the sovereignty of each state, except for the specific powers delegated to the confederation government: "Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated." # Declares the purpose of the confederation: "The said States hereby severally enter into a firm league of friendship with each other, for their common defense, the security of their liberties, and their mutual and general welfare, binding themselves to assist each other, against all force offered to, or attacks made upon them, or any of them, on account of religion, sovereignty, trade, or any other pretense whatever." # Elaborates upon the intent "to secure and perpetuate mutual friendship and intercourse among the people of the different States in this union," and to establish
equal treatment Equal opportunity is a state of fairness in which individuals are treated similarly, unhampered by artificial barriers or prejudices or preferences, except when particular distinctions can be explicitly justified. The intent is that the important jo ...
and
freedom of movement Freedom of movement, mobility rights, or the right to travel is a human rights concept encompassing the right of individuals to travel from place to place within the territory of a country,Jérémiee Gilbert, ''Nomadic Peoples and Human Rights'' ...
for the free inhabitants of each state to pass unhindered between the states, excluding "
pauper ''Pauperism'' (Lat. ''pauper'', poor) is a term meaning poverty Poverty is the state of not having enough material possessions or income for a person's basic needs. Poverty may include social, economic, and political elements. ''Absolute pover ...
s, vagabonds, and
fugitive Image:John Walsh filming a segment for America's Most Wanted.jpg, Fugitives are often profiled in the media in order to be apprehended, such as in the TV show ''America's Most Wanted''. A fugitive (or runaway) is a person who is fleeing from pol ...
s from justice." All these people are entitled to equal rights established by the state into which they travel. If a crime is committed in one state and the perpetrator flees to another state, he will be
extradited Extradition is an action wherein one jurisdiction delivers a person accused or convicted of committing a crime In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state or other authority. The term ''crime'' does not, in moder ...
to and tried in the state in which the crime was committed. # Allocates one vote in the
Congress of the Confederation The Congress of the Confederation, or the Confederation Congress, formally referred to as the United States in Congress Assembled, was the governing body of the United States of America The United States of America (USA), commonly kno ...
(the "United States in Congress Assembled") to each state, which is entitled to a delegation of between two and seven members. Members of Congress are to be appointed by state legislatures. No congressman may serve more than three out of any six years. # Only the central government may declare war, or conduct foreign political or commercial relations. No state or official may accept foreign gifts or titles, and granting any title of nobility is forbidden to all. No states may form any sub-national groups. No state may tax or interfere with treaty stipulations already proposed. No state may wage war without permission of Congress, unless invaded or under imminent attack on the frontier; no state may maintain a peacetime standing army or navy, unless infested by pirates, but every State is required to keep ready, a well-trained, disciplined, and equipped
militia A militia () is generally an army An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via Old French ''armée'', "armed" eminine, ground force or land force is a fighting force that fights primarily on land. In the broadest sense, it is the land-b ...
. # Whenever an army is raised for common defense, the state legislatures shall assign military ranks of colonel and below. # Expenditures by the United States of America will be paid with funds raised by state legislatures, and apportioned to the states in proportion to the real property values of each. # Powers and functions of the United States in Congress Assembled. #* Grants to the United States in Congress assembled the sole and exclusive right and power to determine peace and war; to exchange ambassadors; to enter into treaties and alliances, with some provisos; to establish rules for deciding all cases of captures or prizes on land or water; to grant letters of marque and reprisal (documents authorizing
privateer A privateer is a private person or ship that engages in maritime warfare under a commission of war. Since robbery under arms was a common aspect of seaborne trade, until the early 19th century all merchant ships carried arms. A sovereign or deleg ...
s) in times of peace; to appoint courts for the trial of pirates and crimes committed on the high seas; to establish courts for appeals in all cases of captures, but no member of Congress may be appointed a judge; to set weights and measures (including coins), and for Congress to serve as a final court for disputes between states. #* The court will be composed of jointly appointed commissioners or Congress shall appoint them. Each commissioner is bound by oath to be impartial. The court's decision is final. #* Congress shall regulate the
post office A post office is a public facility that provides mail The mail or post is a system for physically transporting postcard A postcard or post card is a piece of thick paper or thin Card stock, cardboard, typically rectangular, intended fo ...

post office
s; appoint officers in the military; and regulate the armed forces. #* The United States in Congress assembled may appoint a president who shall not serve longer than one year per three-year term of the Congress. #* Congress may request requisitions (demands for payments or supplies) from the states in proportion with their population, or take credit. #* Congress may not declare war, enter into treaties and alliances, appropriate money, or appoint a
commander in chief A commander-in-chief or supreme commander is the person who exercises supreme command and control Command and control is a "set of organizational and technical attributes and processes ... hat A collection of 18th and 19th century men' ...
without nine states assented. Congress shall keep a journal of proceedings and adjourn for periods not to exceed six months. # When Congress is in recess, any of the powers of Congress may be executed by "The committee of the states, or any nine of them", except for those powers of Congress which require nine states ''in'' Congress to execute. # If Canada
Province of Quebec ) , image_shield=Armoiries du Québec.svg , image_flag=Flag of Quebec.svg , coordinates= , AdmittanceDate=July 1, 1867 , AdmittanceOrder=1st, with New Brunswick ("Hope restored") , image_map = New Brunswick in Canada 2.svg , ...
] accedes to this confederation, it will be admitted. No other colony could be admitted without the consent of nine states. #Affirms that the Confederation will honor all Engagements Clause#The precursor in the Articles of Confederation, bills of credit incurred, monies borrowed, and debts contracted by Congress before the existence of the Articles. # Declares that the Articles shall be perpetual, and may be altered only with the approval of Congress and the ratification of all the state legislatures.


Congress under the Articles


The army

Under the Articles, Congress had the authority to regulate and fund the
Continental Army The Continental Army was the army of the Thirteen Colonies and the Revolutionary-era United States. It was formed by the Second Continental Congress after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War, and was established by a resolution of ...
, but it lacked the power to compel the States to comply with requests for either troops or funding. This left the military vulnerable to inadequate funding, supplies, and even food. Further, although the Articles enabled the states to present a unified front when dealing with the European powers, as a tool to build a centralized war-making government, they were largely a failure; Historian Bruce Chadwick wrote: Phelps wrote: The Continental Congress, before the Articles were approved, had promised soldiers a pension of half pay for life. However Congress had no power to compel the states to fund this obligation, and as the war wound down after the victory at Yorktown the sense of urgency to support the military was no longer a factor. No progress was made in Congress during the winter of 1783–84. General
Henry Knox Henry Knox (July 25, 1750 – October 25, 1806) was an American military officer who was a senior general of the Continental Army The Continental Army was the army of the Thirteen Colonies and the Revolutionary-era United States. It was fo ...

Henry Knox
, who would later become the first
Secretary of War The secretary of war was a member of the U.S. president The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state (polity), state#Foak ...
under the Constitution, blamed the weaknesses of the Articles for the inability of the government to fund the army. The army had long been supportive of a strong union.Knox wrote: As Congress failed to act on the petitions, Knox wrote to Gouverneur Morris, four years before the Philadelphia Convention was convened, "As the present Constitution is so defective, why do not you great men call the people together and tell them so; that is, to have a convention of the States to form a better Constitution." Once the war had been won, the
Continental Army The Continental Army was the army of the Thirteen Colonies and the Revolutionary-era United States. It was formed by the Second Continental Congress after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War, and was established by a resolution of ...
was largely disbanded. A very small
national force The National Force is a fictional organization appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics Marvel Comics is the brand name and primary imprint of Marvel Worldwide Inc., formerly Marvel Publishing, Inc. and Marvel Comics Gro ...
was maintained to man the frontier forts and to protect against
Native American Native Americans may refer to: Ethnic groups * Indigenous peoples of the Americas, the pre-Columbian peoples of North and South America and their descendants * Native Americans in the United States * Indigenous peoples in Canada, the indigenous p ...
attacks. Meanwhile, each of the states had an army (or militia), and 11 of them had navies. The wartime promises of bounties and land grants to be paid for service were not being met. In 1783,
George Washington George Washington (February 22, 1732, 1799) was an American soldier, statesman, and Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father who served as the first President of the United States from 1789 to 1797. Appointed by the Continenta ...

George Washington
defused the Newburgh conspiracy, but riots by unpaid
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania ( , elsewhere ; pdc, Pennsilfaani), officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a landlocked A landlocked country is a country that does not have territory connected to an ocean or whose coastlines lie on endorheic basi ...

Pennsylvania
veterans forced Congress to leave Philadelphia temporarily. The Congress from time to time during the Revolutionary War requisitioned troops from the states. Any contributions were voluntary, and in the debates of 1788, the Federalists (who supported the proposed new Constitution) claimed that state politicians acted unilaterally, and contributed when the Continental army protected their state's interests. The Anti-Federalists claimed that state politicians understood their duty to the Union and contributed to advance its needs. Dougherty (2009) concludes that generally the States' behavior validated the Federalist analysis. This helps explain why the Articles of Confederation needed reforms.


Foreign policy

The 1783 Treaty of Paris, which ended hostilities with Great Britain, languished in Congress for several months because too few delegates were present at any one time to constitute a
quorum A quorum is the minimum number of members of a deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who use parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure is the body of ethics, Procedural law, ...
so that it could be ratified. Afterward, the problem only got worse as Congress had no power to enforce attendance. Rarely did more than half of the roughly sixty delegates attend a session of Congress at the time, causing difficulties in raising a
quorum A quorum is the minimum number of members of a deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who use parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure is the body of ethics, Procedural law, ...
. The resulting paralysis embarrassed and frustrated many American nationalists, including George Washington. Many of the most prominent national leaders, such as Washington,
John Adams John Adams (October 30, 1735 – July 4, 1826) was an American statesman, attorney, diplomat A diplomat (from grc, δίπλωμα; romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific stud ...

John Adams
,
John Hancock John Hancock ( – October 8, 1793) was an American Founding Father The following list of national founding figures is a record, by country, of people who were credited with establishing a state. National founders are typically those w ...

John Hancock
, and
Benjamin Franklin Benjamin Franklin ( April 17, 1790) was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States that was negotiated on behalf of the United States by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and John Jay The Founding Fathers of the United States, or simp ...

Benjamin Franklin
, retired from public life, served as foreign delegates, or held office in state governments; and for the general public, local government and self-rule seemed quite satisfactory. This served to exacerbate Congress's impotence. Inherent weaknesses in the confederation's frame of government also frustrated the ability of the government to conduct foreign policy. In 1786,
Thomas Jefferson Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826) was an American statesman, diplomat, lawyer, architect, philosopher, and who served as the third from 1801 to 1809. He had previously served as the second under and as the first under ...

Thomas Jefferson
, concerned over the failure of Congress to fund an American naval force to confront the
Barbary pirates 1650 The Barbary pirates, or Barbary corsairs or Ottoman corsairs, were Muslims, Muslim privateers who operated from North Africa, based primarily in the ports of Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli. This area was known in Europe as the Barbary Coast ...
, wrote in a
diplomatic correspondence Diplomatic correspondence is correspondence between one state and another and is usually of a formal character. It follows several widely observed customs and style in composition, substance, presentation, and delivery and can generally be categoriz ...
to
James Monroe James Monroe (; April 28, 1758July 4, 1831) was an American statesman, lawyer, diplomat and Founding Father The following list of national founding figures is a record, by country, of people who were credited with establishing a state. ...
that, "It will be said there is no money in the treasury. There never will be money in the treasury till the Confederacy shows its teeth." Furthermore, the 1786 Jay–Gardoqui Treaty with
Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_anthem = , image_map = , map_caption = , image_map2 ...

Spain
also showed weakness in foreign policy. In this treaty, which was never ratified, the United States was to give up rights to use the
Mississippi River The Mississippi River is the second-longest river and chief river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and b ...

Mississippi River
for 25 years, which would have economically strangled the settlers west of the
Appalachian Mountains The Appalachian Mountains, often called the Appalachians, are a mountain range, system of mountains in eastern North America. The Appalachians first formed roughly 480 million years ago during the Ordovician, Ordovician Period. They once reache ...

Appalachian Mountains
. Finally, due to the Confederation's military weakness, it could not compel the
British army The British Army is the principal Army, land warfare force of the United Kingdom, a part of the British Armed Forces. , the British Army comprises 80,040 regular full-time personnel and 30,020 Army Reserve (United Kingdom), reserve personnel ...
to leave frontier forts which were on American soil — forts which, in 1783, the British promised to leave, but which they delayed leaving pending U.S. implementation of other provisions such as ending action against
Loyalist Loyalism, in the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. ...
s and allowing them to seek compensation. This incomplete British implementation of the Treaty of Paris would later be resolved by the implementation of
Jay's Treaty The Treaty of Amity, Commerce, and Navigation, Between His Britannic Majesty and the United States of America, commonly known as the Jay Treaty, and also as Jay's Treaty, was a 1794 treaty between the United States and Great Britain that averted ...
in 1795 after the federal Constitution came into force.


Taxation and commerce

Under the Articles of Confederation, the central government's power was kept quite limited. The Confederation Congress could make decisions but lacked enforcement powers. Implementation of most decisions, including modifications to the Articles, required unanimous approval of all thirteen state legislatures. Congress was denied any powers of
taxation A tax is a compulsory financial charge or some other type of levy imposed on a taxpayer (an individual or Legal person, legal entity) by a governmental organization in order to fund government spending and various public expenditures (regional, ...
: it could only request money from the states. The states often failed to meet these requests in full, leaving both Congress and the Continental Army chronically short of money. As more money was printed by Congress, the continental dollars depreciated. In 1779, George Washington wrote to
John Jay John Jay (December 12, 1745 – May 17, 1829) was an American statesman, patriot, diplomat A diplomat (from grc, δίπλωμα; romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of ...

John Jay
, who was serving as the president of the Continental Congress, "that a wagon load of money will scarcely purchase a wagon load of provisions." Mr. Jay and the Congress responded in May by requesting $45 million from the States. In an appeal to the States to comply, Jay wrote that the taxes were "the price of liberty, the peace, and the safety of yourselves and posterity." He argued that Americans should avoid having it said "that America had no sooner become independent than she became insolvent" or that "her infant glories and growing fame were obscured and tarnished by broken contracts and violated faith." The States did not respond with any of the money requested from them. Congress had also been denied the power to regulate either foreign trade or
interstate commerce The Commerce Clause describes an enumerated powerThe enumerated powers (also called expressed powers, explicit powers or delegated powers) of the United States Congress The United States Congress or U.S. Congress is the bicameral legisl ...
and, as a result, all of the States maintained control over their own trade policies. The states and the Confederation Congress both incurred large debts during the Revolutionary War, and how to repay those debts became a major issue of debate following the War. Some States paid off their war debts and others did not. Federal assumption of the states' war debts became a major issue in the deliberations of the Constitutional Convention.


Accomplishments

Nevertheless, the Confederation Congress did take two actions with long-lasting impact. The
Land Ordinance of 1785 #REDIRECT Land Ordinance of 1785#REDIRECT Land Ordinance of 1785The Land Ordinance of 1785 was adopted by the United States Congress of the Confederation on May 20, 1785. It set up a standardized system whereby settlers could purchase title to farm ...
and
Northwest Ordinance The Northwest Ordinance (formally An Ordinance for the Government of the Territory of the United States, North-West of the River Ohio and also known as the Ordinance of 1787), enacted July 13, 1787, was an organic act of the Congress of the Conf ...
created territorial government, set up protocols for the admission of new states and the division of land into useful units, and set aside land in each township for
public use Public use is a legal requirement under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution#Eminent domain, Takings Clause ("nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation") of the Fifth Amendment to the United States ...
. This system represented a sharp break from imperial colonization, as in Europe, and it established the precedent by which the national (later, federal) government would be sovereign and expand westward—as opposed to the existing states doing so under their sovereignty. The
Land Ordinance of 1785 #REDIRECT Land Ordinance of 1785#REDIRECT Land Ordinance of 1785The Land Ordinance of 1785 was adopted by the United States Congress of the Confederation on May 20, 1785. It set up a standardized system whereby settlers could purchase title to farm ...
established both the general practices of land surveying in the west and northwest and the land ownership provisions used throughout the later westward expansion beyond the
Mississippi River The Mississippi River is the second-longest river and chief river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and b ...

Mississippi River
. Frontier lands were surveyed into the now-familiar squares of land called the
township A township is a kind of human settlement In geography, statistics and archaeology, a settlement, locality or populated place is a community in which people live. The complexity of a settlement can range from a small number of dwellings g ...

township
(36 square miles), the
section Section, Sectioning or Sectioned may refer to: Arts, entertainment and media * Section (music), a complete, but not independent, musical idea * Section (typography), a subdivision, especially of a chapter, in books and documents ** Section sign ...
(one square mile), and the quarter section (160
acre The acre is a of land area used in the and systems. It is traditionally defined as the area of one by one (66 by 660 feet), which is exactly equal to 10 square chains, of a square mile, or 43,560 square feet, and approximately 4,047 m ...

acre
s). This system was carried forward to most of the States west of the Mississippi (excluding areas of
Texas Texas (, ; Spanish language, Spanish: ''Texas'', ''Tejas'') is a state in the South Central United States, South Central region of the United States. At 268,596 square miles (695,662 km2), and with more than 29.1 million residents in 2020, ...

Texas
and
California California is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States. With over 39.3million residents across a total area of approximately , it is the List of states and territories of the United States by population, most populous and the List of ...

California
that had already been surveyed and divided up by the
Spanish Empire The Spanish Empire ( es, link=no, Imperio Español), also known as the Hispanic Monarchy ( es, link=no, Monarquía Hispánica) or the Catholic Monarchy ( es, link=no, Monarquía Católica) during the Early Modern period, was a colonial empire ...

Spanish Empire
). Then, when the
Homestead Act The Homestead Acts were several laws in the United States by which an applicant could acquire ownership of government land or the public domain The public domain consists of all the creative workA creative work is a manifestation of c ...
was enacted in 1867, the quarter section became the basic unit of land that was granted to new settler-farmers. The
Northwest Ordinance The Northwest Ordinance (formally An Ordinance for the Government of the Territory of the United States, North-West of the River Ohio and also known as the Ordinance of 1787), enacted July 13, 1787, was an organic act of the Congress of the Conf ...
of 1787 noted the agreement of the original states to give up northwestern land claims, organized the
Northwest Territory The Northwest Territory, also known as the Old Northwest and formally known as the Territory Northwest of the River Ohio, was formed from unorganized western territory of the United States after the . Established in 1787 by the through the , ...

Northwest Territory
and laid the groundwork for the eventual creation of new states. While it didn't happen under the articles, the land north of the
Ohio River The Ohio River is a long river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course wi ...

Ohio River
and west of the (present) western border of Pennsylvania ceded by
Massachusetts Massachusetts (, ), officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * T ...

Massachusetts
,
Connecticut Connecticut () is the southernmost state in the New England region of the United States. As of the 2010 United States census, 2010 Census, it has the highest per-capita income, second-highest level of List of U.S. states and territories by H ...
,
New York New York most commonly refers to: * New York City, the most populous city in the United States, located in the state of New York * New York (state), a state in the northeastern United States New York may also refer to: Film and television * New ...
,
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania ( , elsewhere ; pdc, Pennsilfaani), officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a landlocked A landlocked country is a country that does not have territory connected to an ocean or whose coastlines lie on endorheic basi ...

Pennsylvania
, and
Virginia Virginia (), officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a in the and regions of the , between the and the . The geography and climate of the are shaped by the and the , which provide habitat for much of its flora and fauna. The capit ...

Virginia
, eventually became the states of:
Ohio Ohio () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Co ...

Ohio
,
Indiana Indiana () is a U.S. state in the Midwestern United States, Midwestern United States. It is the List of U.S. states and territories by area, 38th-largest by area and the List of U.S. states and territories by population, 17th-most populous o ...

Indiana
,
Illinois Illinois ( ) is a in the region of the . Of the fifty U.S. states, it has the , population, and the . is the state's largest city and the fifth with the capital in , located in the center of the state; other major metropolitan areas in ...

Illinois
,
Michigan Michigan () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper ...

Michigan
, and
Wisconsin Wisconsin () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper ...

Wisconsin
, and the part of
Minnesota Minnesota () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper ...

Minnesota
east of the Mississippi River. The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 also made great advances in the abolition of slavery. New states admitted to the union in this territory would never be slave states. No new states were admitted to the Union under the Articles of Confederation. The Articles provided for a blanket acceptance of the
Province of Quebec ) , image_shield=Armoiries du Québec.svg , image_flag=Flag of Quebec.svg , coordinates= , AdmittanceDate=July 1, 1867 , AdmittanceOrder=1st, with New Brunswick ("Hope restored") , image_map = New Brunswick in Canada 2.svg , ...
(referred to as "Canada" in the Articles) into the United States if it chose to do so. It did not, and the subsequent Constitution carried no such special provision of admission. Additionally, ordinances to admit Frankland (later modified to Franklin),
Kentucky Kentucky ( , ), officially the Commonwealth of Kentucky, is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ...
, and
Vermont Vermont () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in ...
to the Union were considered, but none were approved.


Presidents of Congress

Under the Articles of Confederation, the presiding officer of Congress—referred to in many official records as ''President of the United States in Congress Assembled''—chaired the Committee of the States when Congress was in recess, and performed other administrative functions. He was not, however, an executive in the way the later
President of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president directs the Federal government of the United States#Executive branch, executive branch of the Federal gover ...

President of the United States
is a chief executive, since all of the functions he executed were under the direct control of Congress. There were 10 presidents of Congress under the Articles. The first,
Samuel HuntingtonSamuel Huntington may refer to: * Samuel Huntington (Connecticut politician) (1731–1796), American jurist, statesman, and revolutionary leader * Samuel H. Huntington (1765–1817), American jurist, Governor of Ohio * Samuel P. Huntington (1927– ...
, had been serving as president of the Continental Congress since September 28, 1779.


The U.S. under the Articles

The peace treaty left the United States independent and at peace but with an unsettled governmental structure. The Articles envisioned a permanent confederation but granted to the Congress—the only federal institution—little power to finance itself or to ensure that its resolutions were enforced. There was no president, no executive agencies, no judiciary, and no tax base. The absence of a tax base meant that there was no way to pay off state and national debts from the war years except by requesting money from the states, which seldom arrived. Although historians generally agree that the Articles were too weak to hold the fast-growing nation together, they do give credit to the settlement of the western issue, as the states voluntarily turned over their lands to national control. By 1783, with the end of the British blockade, the new nation was regaining its prosperity. However, trade opportunities were restricted by the mercantilism of the British and French empires. The ports of the British West Indies were closed to all staple products which were not carried in British ships. France and Spain established similar policies. Simultaneously, new manufacturers faced sharp competition from British products which were suddenly available again. Political unrest in several states and efforts by debtors to use popular government to erase their debts increased the anxiety of the political and economic elites which had led the Revolution. The apparent inability of the Congress to redeem the public obligations (debts) incurred during the war, or to become a forum for productive cooperation among the states to encourage commerce and economic development, only aggravated a gloomy situation. In 1786–87,
Shays' Rebellion Shays Rebellion was an armed uprising in Western Massachusetts and Worcester, Massachusetts, Worcester in response to a debt crisis among the citizenry and in opposition to the state government's increased efforts to collect taxes both on individu ...

Shays' Rebellion
, an uprising of dissidents in western Massachusetts against the state court system, threatened the stability of state government. The Continental Congress printed paper money which was so depreciated that it ceased to pass as currency, spawning the expression "not worth a continental". Congress could not levy taxes and could only make requisitions upon the States. Less than a million and a half dollars came into the treasury between 1781 and 1784, although the governors had been asked for two million in 1783 alone. When
John Adams John Adams (October 30, 1735 – July 4, 1826) was an American statesman, attorney, diplomat A diplomat (from grc, δίπλωμα; romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific stud ...

John Adams
went to London in 1785 as the first representative of the United States, he found it impossible to secure a treaty for unrestricted commerce. Demands were made for favors and there was no assurance that individual states would agree to a treaty. Adams stated it was necessary for the States to confer the power of passing navigation laws to Congress, or that the States themselves pass retaliatory acts against Great Britain. Congress had already requested and failed to get power over navigation laws. Meanwhile, each State acted individually against Great Britain to little effect. When other New England states closed their ports to British shipping, Connecticut hastened to profit by opening its ports. By 1787 Congress was unable to protect manufacturing and shipping. State legislatures were unable or unwilling to resist attacks upon private contracts and public credit. Land speculators expected no rise in values when the government could not defend its borders nor protect its frontier population. The idea of a convention to revise the Articles of Confederation grew in favor.
Alexander Hamilton Alexander Hamilton (January 11, 1755 or 1757July 12, 1804) was an American statesman, politician, legal scholar, military commander, lawyer, banker, and economist. He was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States The Founding Fa ...

Alexander Hamilton
realized while serving as Washington's top aide that a strong central government was necessary to avoid foreign intervention and allay the frustrations due to an ineffectual Congress. Hamilton led a group of like-minded nationalists, won Washington's endorsement, and convened the Annapolis Convention in 1786 to petition Congress to call a constitutional convention to meet in Philadelphia to remedy the long-term crisis.


Signatures

The Second Continental Congress approved the Articles for distribution to the states on November 15, 1777. A copy was made for each state and one was kept by the
Congress Congresses are formal meetings of the representatives of different countries A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, ...
. On November 28, the copies sent to the states for ratification were unsigned, and the cover letter, dated November 17, had only the signatures of
Henry Laurens in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. Henry Laurens (December 8, 1792) was an Americans, American merchant, slave trader, and rice planter from South Carolina South Carolina () is a state in the Southeastern region of ...
and
Charles Thomson Charles Thomson (November 29, 1729 – August 16, 1824) was an Irish-born Patriot leader in Philadelphia Philadelphia, colloquially Philly, is a city in the state of Pennsylvania in the United States. It is the sixth-most populous city in ...
, who were the
President President most commonly refers to: *President (corporate title) A president is a leader of an organization, company, community, club, trade union, university or other group. The relationship between a president and a Chief Executive Officer, chi ...
and Secretary to the Congress. The Articles, however, were unsigned, and the date was blank. Congress began the signing process by examining their copy of the Articles on June 27, 1778. They ordered a final copy prepared (the one in the National Archives), and that delegates should inform the secretary of their authority for ratification. On July 9, 1778, the prepared copy was ready. They dated it and began to sign. They also requested each of the remaining states to notify its delegation when ratification was completed. On that date, delegates present from
New Hampshire New Hampshire ( ) is a U.S. state, state in the New England region of the United States. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Gulf of Maine to the east, and the Canadian province of Quebec to the nor ...

New Hampshire
,
Massachusetts Massachusetts (, ), officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * T ...

Massachusetts
,
Rhode Island Rhode Island (, like ''road''), officially the State of Rhode Island, is a state in the New England New England is a region comprising six states in the Northeastern United States The Northeastern United States (also referred to as t ...
,
Connecticut Connecticut () is the southernmost state in the New England region of the United States. As of the 2010 United States census, 2010 Census, it has the highest per-capita income, second-highest level of List of U.S. states and territories by H ...
,
New York New York most commonly refers to: * New York City, the most populous city in the United States, located in the state of New York * New York (state), a state in the northeastern United States New York may also refer to: Film and television * New ...
,
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania ( , elsewhere ; pdc, Pennsilfaani), officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a landlocked A landlocked country is a country that does not have territory connected to an ocean or whose coastlines lie on endorheic basi ...

Pennsylvania
,
Virginia Virginia (), officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a in the and regions of the , between the and the . The geography and climate of the are shaped by the and the , which provide habitat for much of its flora and fauna. The capit ...

Virginia
and
South Carolina South Carolina () is a U.S. state, state in the coastal Southeastern United States, Southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered to the north by North Carolina, to the southeast by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the southwest by Georgia ...

South Carolina
signed the Articles to indicate that their states had ratified.
New Jersey New Jersey is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic States, Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States, Northeastern regions of the United States. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York (state), New York; on the ea ...
,
Delaware Delaware ( ) is a state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Maryland to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and New Jersey and the Atlantic Ocean to its east. The state takes i ...
and
Maryland Maryland ( ) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper ...

Maryland
could not, since their states had not ratified.
North Carolina North Carolina () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily news ...

North Carolina
and
Georgia Georgia usually refers to: * Georgia (country), a country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia * Georgia (U.S. state), one of the states of the United States of America Georgia may also refer to: Historical states and entities * Democratic Republ ...
also were unable to sign that day, since their delegations were absent. After the first signing, some delegates signed at the next meeting they attended. For example, John Wentworth of New Hampshire added his name on August 8. John Penn was the first of North Carolina's delegates to arrive (on July 10), and the delegation signed the Articles on July 21, 1778. The other states had to wait until they ratified the Articles and notified their Congressional delegation. Georgia signed on July 24, New Jersey on November 26, and Delaware on February 12, 1779. Maryland refused to ratify the Articles until every state had ceded its western land claims. Anne-César, Chevalier de la Luzerne, Chevalier de La Luzerne, French Diplomatic rank, Minister to the United States, felt that the Articles would help strengthen the American government. In 1780 when Maryland requested France provide naval forces in the Chesapeake Bay for protection from the British (who were conducting raids in the lower part of the bay), he indicated that French Admiral Charles René Dominique Sochet, Chevalier Destouches, Destouches would do what he could but La Luzerne also “sharply pressed” Maryland to ratify the Articles, thus suggesting the two issues were related. On February 2, 1781, the much-awaited decision was taken by the
Maryland General Assembly The Maryland General Assembly is the state legislature (United States), state legislature of the U.S. state of Maryland that convenes within the Maryland State House, State House in Annapolis. It is a bicameral body: the upper house, upper chambe ...
in Annapolis. As the last piece of business during the afternoon Session, "among engrossed Bills" was "signed and sealed by Governor Thomas Sim Lee in the Senate Chamber, in the presence of the members of both Houses... an Act to empower the delegates of this state in Congress to subscribe and ratify the articles of confederation" and perpetual union among the states. The Senate then adjourned "to the first Monday in August next." The decision of Maryland to ratify the Articles was reported to the Continental Congress on February 12. The confirmation signing of the Articles by the two Maryland delegates took place in Philadelphia at noon time on March 1, 1781, and was celebrated in the afternoon. With these events, the Articles were entered into force and the United States of America came into being as a sovereign federal state. Congress had debated the Articles for over a year and a half, and the ratification process had taken nearly three and a half years. Many participants in the original debates were no longer delegates, and some of the signers had only recently arrived. The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union were signed by a group of men who were never present in the Congress at the same time.


Signers

The signers and the states they represented were: ;
Connecticut Connecticut () is the southernmost state in the New England region of the United States. As of the 2010 United States census, 2010 Census, it has the highest per-capita income, second-highest level of List of U.S. states and territories by H ...
* Roger Sherman *
Samuel HuntingtonSamuel Huntington may refer to: * Samuel Huntington (Connecticut politician) (1731–1796), American jurist, statesman, and revolutionary leader * Samuel H. Huntington (1765–1817), American jurist, Governor of Ohio * Samuel P. Huntington (1927– ...
* Oliver Wolcott * Titus Hosmer * Andrew Adams (congressman), Andrew Adams ;
Delaware Delaware ( ) is a state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Maryland to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and New Jersey and the Atlantic Ocean to its east. The state takes i ...
* Thomas McKean * John Dickinson (delegate), John Dickinson * Nicholas Van Dyke (governor), Nicholas Van Dyke ;
Georgia Georgia usually refers to: * Georgia (country), a country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia * Georgia (U.S. state), one of the states of the United States of America Georgia may also refer to: Historical states and entities * Democratic Republ ...
* John Walton (1738–1783), John Walton * Edward Telfair * Edward Langworthy ;
Maryland Maryland ( ) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper ...

Maryland
* John Hanson * Daniel Carroll ;Massachusetts, Massachusetts Bay *
John Hancock John Hancock ( – October 8, 1793) was an American Founding Father The following list of national founding figures is a record, by country, of people who were credited with establishing a state. National founders are typically those w ...

John Hancock
* Samuel Adams * Elbridge Gerry * Francis Dana * James Lovell (delegate), James Lovell * Samuel Holten ;
New Hampshire New Hampshire ( ) is a U.S. state, state in the New England region of the United States. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Gulf of Maine to the east, and the Canadian province of Quebec to the nor ...

New Hampshire
* Josiah Bartlett * John Wentworth Jr. ;
New Jersey New Jersey is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic States, Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States, Northeastern regions of the United States. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York (state), New York; on the ea ...
* John Witherspoon * Nathaniel Scudder ;
New York New York most commonly refers to: * New York City, the most populous city in the United States, located in the state of New York * New York (state), a state in the northeastern United States New York may also refer to: Film and television * New ...
* James Duane * Francis Lewis * William Duer (delegate), William Duer * Gouverneur Morris ;
North Carolina North Carolina () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily news ...

North Carolina
* John Penn (delegate), John Penn * Cornelius Harnett * John Williams (delegate), John Williams ;
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania ( , elsewhere ; pdc, Pennsilfaani), officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a landlocked A landlocked country is a country that does not have territory connected to an ocean or whose coastlines lie on endorheic basi ...

Pennsylvania
* Robert Morris (merchant), Robert Morris * Daniel Roberdeau * Jonathan Bayard Smith * William Clingan * Joseph Reed (politician), Joseph Reed ;Rhode Island, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations * William Ellery * Henry Marchant * John Collins (delegate), John Collins ;
South Carolina South Carolina () is a U.S. state, state in the coastal Southeastern United States, Southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered to the north by North Carolina, to the southeast by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the southwest by Georgia ...

South Carolina
*
Henry Laurens in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. Henry Laurens (December 8, 1792) was an Americans, American merchant, slave trader, and rice planter from South Carolina South Carolina () is a state in the Southeastern region of ...
* William Henry Drayton * John Mathews (lawyer), John Mathews * Richard Hutson * Thomas Heyward Jr. ;
Virginia Virginia (), officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a in the and regions of the , between the and the . The geography and climate of the are shaped by the and the , which provide habitat for much of its flora and fauna. The capit ...

Virginia
*
Richard Henry Lee Richard Henry Lee (January 20, 1732June 19, 1794) was an American statesman and Founding Father The following list of national founding figures is a record, by country, of people who were credited with establishing a state. National founder ...

Richard Henry Lee
* John Banister (lawyer), John Banister * Thomas Adams (politician), Thomas Adams * John Harvie * Francis Lightfoot Lee Roger Sherman (Connecticut) was the only person to sign all four great state papers of the United States: the Continental Association, the United States Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and the United States Constitution. Robert Morris (Pennsylvania) signed three of the great state papers of the United States: the United States Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and the United States Constitution. John Dickinson (Delaware), Daniel Carroll (Maryland) and Gouverneur Morris (New York), along with Sherman and Robert Morris, were the only five people to sign both the Articles of Confederation and the United States Constitution (Gouverneur Morris represented Pennsylvania when signing the Constitution).


Parchment pages

Original parchment pages of the Articles of Confederation, National Archives and Records Administration. File:Articles of Confederation 1-5.jpg, Preamble to Art. V, Sec. 1 File:Articles of Confederation 5-6.jpg, Art. V, Sec. 2 to Art. VI File:Articles of Confederation 7-9.jpg, Art. VII to Art. IX, Sec. 2 File:Articles of Confederation 9-9.jpg, Art. IX, Sec. 2 to Sec. 5 File:Articles of Confederation 9-13.jpg, Art. IX, Sec. 5 to Art. XIII, Sec. 2 File:Articles of Confederation 13.jpg, Art. XIII, Sec. 2 to signatures


Revision and replacement

On January 21, 1786, the Virginia Legislature, following James Madison's recommendation, invited all the states to send delegates to Annapolis, Maryland, to discuss ways to reduce interstate conflict. At what came to be known as the Annapolis Convention, the few state delegates in attendance endorsed a motion that called for all states to meet in Philadelphia in May 1787 to discuss ways to improve the Articles of Confederation in a "Grand Convention." Although the states' representatives to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia were only authorized to amend the Articles, the representatives held secret, closed-door sessions and wrote a new constitution. The new Constitution gave much more power to the central government, but characterization of the result is disputed. The general goal of the authors was to get close to a republic as defined by the philosophers of the Age of Enlightenment, while trying to address the many difficulties of the interstate relationships. Historian Forrest McDonald, using the ideas of James Madison from ''Federalist 39'', described the change this way: In May 1786, Charles Pinckney (governor), Charles Pinckney of
South Carolina South Carolina () is a U.S. state, state in the coastal Southeastern United States, Southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered to the north by North Carolina, to the southeast by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the southwest by Georgia ...

South Carolina
proposed that Congress revise the Articles of Confederation. Recommended changes included granting United States Congress, Congress power over foreign and domestic commerce, and providing means for Congress to collect money from state treasuries. Unanimous approval was necessary to make the alterations, however, and Congress failed to reach a consensus. The weakness of the Articles in establishing an effective unifying government was underscored by the threat of internal conflict both within and between the states, especially after
Shays' Rebellion Shays Rebellion was an armed uprising in Western Massachusetts and Worcester, Massachusetts, Worcester in response to a debt crisis among the citizenry and in opposition to the state government's increased efforts to collect taxes both on individu ...

Shays' Rebellion
threatened to topple the state government of Massachusetts. Historian Ralph Ketcham commented on the opinions of Patrick Henry, George Mason, and other Anti-Federalism, Anti-Federalists who were not so eager to give up the local autonomy won by the revolution: Historians have given many reasons for the perceived need to replace the articles in 1787. Jillson and Wilson (1994) point to the financial weakness as well as the norms, rules and institutional structures of the Congress, and the propensity to divide along sectional lines. Rakove identifies several factors that explain the collapse of the Confederation. The lack of compulsory direct taxation power was objectionable to those wanting a strong centralized state or expecting to benefit from such power. It could not collect customs after the war because tariffs were vetoed by
Rhode Island Rhode Island (, like ''road''), officially the State of Rhode Island, is a state in the New England New England is a region comprising six states in the Northeastern United States The Northeastern United States (also referred to as t ...
. Rakove concludes that their failure to implement national measures "stemmed not from a heady sense of independence but rather from the enormous difficulties that all the states encountered in collecting taxes, mustering men, and gathering supplies from a war-weary populace." The second group of factors Rakove identified derived from the substantive nature of the problems the Continental Congress confronted after 1783, especially the inability to create a strong foreign policy. Finally, the Confederation's lack of coercive power reduced the likelihood for profit to be made by political means, thus potential rulers were uninspired to seek power. When the war ended in 1783, certain special interests had incentives to create a new "merchant state," much like the British state people had rebelled against. In particular, holders of war scrip and land speculators wanted a central government to pay off scrip at face value and to legalize western land holdings with disputed claims. Also, manufacturers wanted a high tariff as a barrier to foreign goods, but competition among states made this impossible without a central government.


Legitimacy of closing down

Two prominent political leaders in the Confederation,
John Jay John Jay (December 12, 1745 – May 17, 1829) was an American statesman, patriot, diplomat A diplomat (from grc, δίπλωμα; romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of ...

John Jay
of New York and Thomas Burke (governor), Thomas Burke of North Carolina believed that "the authority of the congress rested on the prior acts of the several states, to which the states gave their voluntary consent, and until those obligations were fulfilled, neither nullification of the authority of congress, exercising its due powers, nor secession from the compact itself was consistent with the terms of their original pledges." According to Article XIII of the Confederation, any alteration had to be approved unanimously:
[T]he Articles of this Confederation shall be inviolably observed by every State, and the Union shall be perpetual; nor shall any alteration at any time hereafter be made in any of them; unless such alteration be agreed to in a Congress of the United States, and be afterwards confirmed by the legislatures of every State.
On the other hand, Article VII of the proposed Constitution stated that it would become effective after ratification by a mere nine states, without unanimity:
The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same.
The apparent tension between these two provisions was addressed at the time, and remains a topic of scholarly discussion. In 1788, James Madison remarked (in ''Federalist No. 40'') that the issue had become moot: "As this objection… has been in a manner waived by those who have criticised the powers of the convention, I dismiss it without further observation." Nevertheless, it is a historical and legal question whether opponents of the Constitution could have plausibly attacked the Constitution on that ground. At the time, there were state legislators who argued that the Constitution was not an alteration of the Articles of Confederation, but rather would be a complete replacement so the unanimity rule did not apply. Moreover, the Confederation had proven woefully inadequate and therefore was supposedly no longer binding. Modern scholars such as Francisco Forrest Martin agree that the Articles of Confederation had lost its binding force because many states had violated it, and thus "other states-parties did not have to comply with the Articles' unanimous consent rule". In contrast, law professor Akhil Amar suggests that there may not have really been any conflict between the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution on this point; Article VI of the Confederation specifically allowed side deals among states, and the Constitution could be viewed as a side deal until all states ratified it.


Final months

On July 3, 1788, the Congress received
New Hampshire New Hampshire ( ) is a U.S. state, state in the New England region of the United States. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Gulf of Maine to the east, and the Canadian province of Quebec to the nor ...

New Hampshire
's all-important ninth ratification of the proposed Constitution, thus, according to its terms, establishing it as the new framework of governance for the ratifying states. The following day delegates considered a bill to admit Kentucky into the Union as a sovereign state. The discussion ended with Congress making the determination that, in light of this development, it would be "unadvisable" to admit Kentucky into the Union, as it could do so "under the Articles of Confederation" only, but not "under the Constitution". By the end of July 1788, 11 of the 13 states had ratified the new Constitution. Congress continued to convene under the Articles with a quorum until October. On Saturday, September 13, 1788, the Confederation Congress voted the resolve to implement the new Constitution, and on Monday, September 15 published an announcement that the new Constitution had been ratified by the necessary nine states, set the first Wednesday in January 1789 for appointing electors, set the first Wednesday in February 1789 for the presidential electors to meet and vote for a new president, and set the first Wednesday of March 1789 as the day "for commencing proceedings" under the new Constitution. On that same September 13, it determined that New York would remain the national capital.


See also

* Court of Appeals in Cases of Capture * History of the United States (1776–1789) * Perpetual Union * Vetocracy


References


Further reading

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External links


Text version of the Articles of Confederation




Library of Congress
Today in History: November 15
Library of Congress
United States Constitution Online—The Articles of Confederation

Free Download of Articles of Confederation Audio
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