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Articles of Confederation

Articles of Confederation

The Articles of Confederation were the first constitution of the United States. During 1776–1777, a congressional committee led by john dickinson of Pennsylvania (who had drafted the Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking up Arms in 1775) wrote the Articles and submitted them to the states for ratification in 1777. Ratification was delayed by disputes between the states with extensive western lands and the "landless" states such as Maryland. On March 1, 1781, after the landed states agreed to cede their lands to Congress, the new government came into existence.

The Articles of Confederation reflected the new nation's fear of centralized power and authority. Under the Articles the states were more powerful than the central government, which consisted only of a Congress. Each state had one vote in Congress, with that vote determined by a delegation of from two to seven representatives. Though the Congress had the authority to regulate foreign affairs, wage war, and maintain the postal system, it had no power to levy and collect taxes or regulate interstate commerce.

Critics of the Articles multiplied until finally, in 1787, Congress summoned a convention to draft a revised constitution. On March 4, 1789, the new U.S. Constitution took effect, superseding the Articles of Confederation.

Articles of Confederation

To all to whom these Presents shall come, we the undersigned Delegates of the States affixed to our Names send greeting

Whereas the Delegates of the United States of America in Congress assembled did on the fifteenth day of November in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy-seven, and in the Second Year of the Independence of America agree to certain articles of Confederation and perpetual Union between the States of Newhampshire, Massachusetts-bay, Rhode-island, and Provi dence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North-Carolina, South-Carolina and Georgia in the Words following, viz.

Articles of Confederation and perpetual Union between the States of New Hampshire, Massachusetts-bay, Rhode-island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New-York, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North-Carolina, South-Carolina and Georgia

Source: Ben Perley Poore, ed., The Federal and State Constitutions, Colonial Charters, and Other Organic Laws of the United States, vol. 1 (1878), pp. 7–12.

ARTICLE I

The stile of this confederacy shall be "The United States of America."

ARTICLE II

Each State retains its sovereignty, freedom and independence, and every power, jurisdiction and right, which is not by this confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.

ARTICLE III

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 pretence whatever.

ARTICLE IV

The better to secure and perpetuate mutual friendship and intercourse among the people of the different States in this Union, the free inhabitants of each of these States, paupers, vagabonds and fugitives from justice excepted, shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of free citizens in the several States; and the people of each State shall have free ingress and regress to and from any other State, and shall enjoy therein all the privileges of trade and commerce, subject to the same duties, impositions and restrictions as the inhabitants thereof respectively, provided that such restrictions shall not exceed so far as to prevent the removal of property imported into any State, to any other State of which the owner is an inhabitant; provided also that no imposition, duties or restriction shall be laid by any State, on the property of the United States, or either of them.

If any person guilty of, or charged with treason, felony, or other high misdemeanor in any State, shall flee from justice, and be found in any of the United States, he shall upon demand of the Governor or Executive power, of the State from which he fled, be delivered up and removed to the State having jurisdiction of his offense.

Full faith and credit shall be given in each of these States to the records, acts and judicial proceedings to the courts and magistrates of every other State.

ARTICLE V

For the more convenient management of the general interests of the United States, delegates shall be annually appointed in such manner as the legislature of each State shall direct, to meet in Congress on the first Monday in November, in every year, with a power reserved to each State, to recall its delegates, or any of them, at any time within the year, and to send others in their stead, for the remainder of the year.

No State shall be represented in Congress by less than two, nor by more than seven members; and no person shall be capable of being a delegate for more than three years in any term of six years; nor shall any person, being a delegate, be capable of holding any office under the United States, for which he, or another for his benefit receives any salary, fees or emolument of any kind.

Each State shall maintain its own delegates in a meeting of the States, and while they act as members of the committee of the States.

In determining questions in the United States, in Congress assembled, each State shall have one vote.

Freedom of speech and debate in Congress shall not be impeached or questioned in any court, or place out of Congress, and the members of Congress shall be protected in their persons from arrests and imprisonments, during the time of their going to and from, and attendance on Congress, except for treason, felony, or breach of the peace.

ARTICLE VI

No State without the consent of the United States in Congress assembled, shall send any embassy to, or receive any embassy from, or enter into any conference, agreement, alliance or treaty with any king, prince or state; nor shall any person holding any office or profit or trust under the United States, or any of them, accept of any present, emolument, office or title of any kind whatever from any king, prince or foreign state; nor shall the United States in Congress assembled or any of them, grant any title of nobility.

No two or more States shall enter into any treaty, confederation or alliance whatever between them, without the consent of the United States in Congress assembled, specifying accurately the purposes for which the same is to be entered into, and how long it shall continue.

No State shall lay any imposts or duties, which may interfere with any stipulations in treaties, entered into by the United States in Congress assembled, with any king, prince or state, in pursuance of any treaties already proposed by Congress, to the courts of France and Spain.

No vessels of war shall be kept up in time of peace by any State, except such number only, as shall be deemed necessary by the United States in Congress assembled, for the defence of such State, or its trade; nor shall any body of forces be kept up by any State, in time of peace, except such number only, as in the judgment of the United States, in Congress assembled, shall be deemed requisite to garrison the forts necessary for the defence of such State; but every State shall always keep up a well regulated and disciplined militia, sufficiently armed and accoutered, and shall provide and constantly have ready for use, in public stores, a due number of field pieces and tents, and a proper quantity of arms, ammunition and camp equipage.

No State shall engage in any way without the consent of the United States in Congress assembled, unless such State be actually invaded by enemies, or shall have received certain advice of a resolution being formed by some nation of Indians to invade such State, and the danger is so imminent as not to admit of a delay, till the United States in Congress assembled can be consulted: nor shall any State grant commissions to any ships or vessels of war, nor letters of marque or reprisal, except it be after a declaration of war by the United States in Congress assembled, and then only against the kingdom or state and the subject thereof, against which war has been so declared and under such regulations as shall be established by the United States in Congress assembled, unless such State be infested by pirates, in which case vessels of war may be fitted out for that occasion, and kept so long as the danger shall continue, or until the United States in Congress assembled shall determine otherwise.

ARTICLE VII

When land-forces are raised by any State for the common defence, all officers of or under the rank of colonel, shall be appointed by the Legislature of each State respectively by whom such forces shall be raised, or in such manner as such State shall direct, and all vacancies shall be filled up by the State which first made the appointment.

ARTICLE VIII

All charges of war, and all other expenses that shall be incurred for the common defence or general welfare, and allowed by the United States in Congress assembled, shall be defrayed out of a common treasury, which shall be supplied by the several States, in proportion to the value of all land within each State, granted to or surveyed for any person, as such land and the buildings and improvements thereon shall be estimated according to such mode as the United States in Congress assembled, shall from time to time direct and appoint.

The taxes for paying that proportion shall be laid and levied by the authority and direction of the Legislatures of the several States within the time agreed upon by the United States in Congress Assembled.

ARTICLE IX

The United States in Congress assembled, shall have the sole and exclusive right and power of determining on peace and war, except in the cases mentioned in the sixth article—of sending and receiving ambassadors—entering into treaties and alliances, provided that no treaty of commerce shall be made whereby the legislative power of the respective States shall be restrained from imposing such imposts and duties on foreigners, as their own people are subjected to, or from prohibiting the exportation or importation of any species of goods or commodities whatsoever—of establishing rules for deciding in all cases, what captures on land or water shall be legal, and in what manner prizes taken by land or naval forces in the service of the United States shall be divided or appropriated—of granting letters of marque and reprisal in times of peace—appointing courts for trial of piracies and felonies committed on the high seas and establishing courts for receiving and determining finally appeals in all cases of captures, provided that no member of Congress shall be appointed a judge of any of the said courts.

The United States in Congress assembled shall also be the last resort on appeal in all disputes and differences now subsisting or that hereafter may arise between two or more States concerning boundary, jurisdiction or any other cause whatever; which authority shall always be exercised in the manner following. Whenever the legislative or executive authority or lawful agent of any State in controversy with another shall present a petition to Congress, stating the matter in question and praying for a hearing, notice thereof shall be given by order of Congress to the legislative or executive authority of the other State in controversy, and a day assigned for the appearance of the parties by their lawful agents, who shall then be directed to appoint by joint consent, commissioners or judges to constitute a court for hearing and determining the matter in question: but if they cannot agree, Congress shall name three persons out of each of the United States, and from the list of such persons each party shall alternately strike out one, the petitioners beginning, until the number shall be reduced to thirteen; and from that number not less than seven, nor more than nine names as Congress shall direct, shall, in the presence of Congress be drawn out by lot, and the persons whose names shall be so drawn or any five of them, shall be commissioners or judges, to hear and finally determine the controversy, so always as a major part of the judges who shall hear the cause shall agree in the determination: and if either party shall neglect to attend at the day appointed, without showing reasons, which Congress shall judge sufficient, or being present shall refuse to strike, the Congress shall proceed to nominate three persons out of each State, and the Secretary of Congress shall strike in behalf of such party absent or refusing; and the judgment and sentence of the court to be appointed, in the manner before prescribed, shall be final and conclusive; and if any of the parties shall refuse to submit to the authority of such court, or to appear or defend their claim or cause, the court shall nevertheless proceed to pronounce sentence, or judgment, which shall in like manner be final and decisive, the judgment or sentence and other proceedings being in either case transmitted to Congress, and lodged among the acts of Congress for the security of the parties concerned: provided that every commissioner, before he sits in judgment, shall take an oath to be administered by one of the judges of the supreme court of the State where the cause shall be tried, "well and truly to hear and determine the matter in question, according to the best of his judgment, without favour, affection or hope of reward:" provided also that no State shall be deprived of territory for the benefit of the United States.

All controversies concerning the private right of soil claimed under different grants of two or more States, whose jurisdiction as they may respect such lands, and the States which passed such grants are adjusted, the said grants or either of them being at the same time claimed to have originated antecedent to such settlement of jurisdiction, shall on the petition of either party to the Congress of the United States, be finally determined as near as may be in the same manner as is before prescribed for deciding disputes respecting territorial jurisdiction between different States.

The United States in Congress assembled shall also have the sole and exclusive right and power of regulating the alloy and value of coin struck by their own authority, or by that of the respective States.—fixing the standard of weights and measures throughout the United States.—regulating the trade and managing all affairs with the Indians, not members of any of the States, provided that the legislative right of any State within its own limits be not infringed or violated—establishing and regulating post-offices from one State to another, throughout all the United States, and exacting such postage on the papers passing thro' the same as may be requisite to defray the expenses of the said office—appointing all officers of the land forces, in the service of the United States, excepting regimental officers—appointing all the officers of the naval forces, and commissioning all officers whatever in the service of the United States—making rules for the government and regulation of the said land and naval forces, and directing their operations.

The United States in Congress assembled shall have authority to appoint a committee, to sit in the recess of Congress, to be denominated "a Committee of the States," and to consist of one delegate from each State; and to appoint such other committees and civil officers as may be necessary for managing the general affairs of the United States under their direction—to appoint one of their number to preside, provided that no person be allowed to serve in the office of president more than one year in any term of three years; to ascertain the necessary sums of money to be raised for the service of the United States, and to appropriate and apply the same for defraying the public expenses—to borrow money or emit bills on the credit of the United States transmitting every half year to the respective States an account of the sums of money so borrowed or emitted,—to build and equip a navy—to agree upon the number of land forces, and to make requisitions from each State for its quota, in proportion to the number of white inhabitants in such State; which requisition shall be binding, and thereupon the Legislature of each State shall appoint the regimental officers, raise the men and cloath, arm and equip them in a soldier like manner, at the expense of the United States; and the officers and men so cloathed, armed and equipped shall march to the place appointed, and within the time agreed on by the United States in Congress assembled: but if the United States in Congress assembled shall, on consideration of circumstances judge proper that any State should not raise men, or should raise a smaller number than its quota, and that any other State should raise a greater number of men than the quota thereof, such extra number shall be raised, officered, cloathed, armed and equipped in the same manner as the quota of such State, unless the legislature of such State shall judge that such extra number cannot be safely spared out of the same, in which case they shall raise officer, cloath, arm and equip as many of such extra number as they judge can be safely spared. And the officers and men so cloathed, armed, and equipped, shall march to the place appointed, and within the time agreed on by the United States in Congress assembled.

The United States in Congress assembled shall never engage in a war, nor grant letters of marque and reprisal in time of peace, nor enter into any treaties or alliances, nor coin money, nor regulate the value thereof, nor ascertain the sums and expenses necessary for the defence and welfare of the United States, or any of them, nor emit bills, nor borrow money on the credit of the United States, nor appropriate money, nor agree upon the number of vessels of war, to be built or purchased, or the number of land or sea forces to be raised, nor appoint a commander in chief of the army or navy, unless nine States assent to the same: nor shall a question on any other point, except for adjourning from day to day be determined, unless by the votes of a majority of the United States in Congress assembled.

The Congress of the United States shall have power to adjourn to any time within the year, and to any place within the United States, so that no period of adjournment be for a longer duration than the space of six months, and shall publish the journal of their proceedings monthly, except such parts thereof relating to treaties, alliances or military operations, as in their judgment require secresy; and the yeas and nays of the delegates of each State on any question shall be entered on the journal, when it is desired by any delegate; and the delegates of a State, or any of them, at his or her request shall be furnished with a transcript of the said journal, except such parts as are above excepted, to lay before the Legislatures of the several States.

ARTICLE X

The committee of the States, or any nine of them, shall be authorized to execute in the recess of Congress, such of the powers of Congress as the United States in Congress assembled, by the consent of nine States, shall from time to time think expedient to vest them with; provided that no power be delegated to the said committee, for the exercise of which, by the articles of confederation, the voice of nine States in the Congress of the United States assembled is requisite.

ARTICLE XI

Canada acceding to this confederation, and joining in the measures of the United States, shall be admitted into, and entitled to all the advantages of this Union: but no other colony shall be admitted into the same, unless such admission be agreed to by nine States.

ARTICLE XII

All bills of credit emitted, monies borrowed and debts contracted by, or under the authority of Congress, before the assembling of the United States, in pursuance of the present confederation, shall be deemed and considered as a charge against the United States, for payment and satisfaction whereof the said United States, and the public faith are hereby solemnly pledged.

ARTICLE XIII

Every State shall abide by the determinations of the United States in Congress assembled, on all questions which by this confederation are submitted to them. And the 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.

And whereas it has pleased the Great Governor of the world to incline the hearts of the Legislatures we respectively represent in Congress, to approve of, and to authorize us to ratify the said articles of confederation and perpetual union. Know ye that we the undersigned delegates, by virtue of the power and authority to us given for that purpose, do by these presents, in the name and in behalf of our respective constituents, fully and entirely ratify and confirm each and every of the said articles of confederation and perpetual union, and all and singular the matters and things therein contained: and we do further solemnly plight and engage the faith of our respective constituents, that they shall abide by the determinations of the United States in Congress assembled, on all questions, which by the said confederation are submitted to them. And that the articles thereof shall be inviolably observed by the States we re[s]pectively represent, and that the Union shall be perpetual.

In witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands in Congress.

Done at Philadelphia in the State of Pennsylvania the ninth day of July in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy-eight, and in the third year of the independence of America.

On the part and behalf of the State of New Hampshire

JOSIAH BARTLETT, August 8th, 1778.
JOHN WENTWORTH, Junr.,

On the part and behalf of the State of Massachusetts Bay

JOHN HANCOCK,     FRANCIS DANA,
SAMUEL ADAMS,     JAMES LOVELL,
ELBRIDGE GERRY,     SAMUEL HOLTEN.

On the part and behalf of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations

WILLIAM ELLERY,     JOHN COLLINS.
HENRY MARCHANT,

On the part and behalf of the State of Connecticut

ROGER SHERMAN,     TITUS HOSMER,
SAMUEL HUNTINGTON,
OLIVER WOLCOTT,     ANDREW ADAMS.

On the part and behalf of the State of New York

JAS. DUANE,     WM. DUER,
FRA. LEWIS,     GOUV. MORRIS.

On the part and in behalf of the State of New Jersey, Novr. 26, 1778

JNO. WITHERSPOON,     NATHL. SCUDDER.

On the part and behalf of the State of Pennsylvania

ROBT. MORRIS,     WILLIAM CLINGAN,
DANIEL ROBERDEAU,     JOSEPH REED,
JONA. BAYARD SMITH,     22d July, 1778.

On the part & behalf of the State of Delaware

THO. M'KEAN, Feby. 12, 1779.
NICHOLAS VAN DYKE.
JOHN DICKINSON, May 5th, 1779

On the part and behalf of the State of Maryland

JOHN HANSON, Mar. 1, 1781.
DANIEL CARROLL, March 1, 1781.

On the part and behalf of the State of Virginia

RICHARD HENRY LEE,     JNO. HARVIE,
JOHN BANISTER,     THOMAS ADAMS,
FRANCIS LIGHTFOOT LEE.

On the part and behalf of the State of No. Carolina

JOHN PENN, July 21st, 1778.
CORNS. HARNETT,     JNO. WILLIAMS.

On the part & behalf of the State of South Carolina

HENRY LAURENS,     RICHD. HUTSON,
WILLIAM HENRY DRAYTON,
JNO. MATHEWS,     THOS. HEYWARD, Junr.

On the part & behalf of the State of Georgia

JNO. WALTON, 24th July, 1778.
EDWD. TELFAIR
EDWD. LANGWORTHY.

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Confederation, Articles of

Articles of Confederation, in U.S. history, ratified in 1781 and superseded by the Constitution of the United States in 1789. The imperative need for unity among the new states created by the American Revolution and the necessity of defining the relative powers of the Continental Congress and the individual states led Congress to entrust the drafting of a federal constitution to a committee headed by John Dickinson. In the Articles of Confederation submitted by the committee to the Second Continental Congress on July 12, 1776, three points provoked much argument—the apportionment of taxes according to population, the granting of one vote to each state, and the right of the federal government to dispose of public lands in the West. After several revisions were made, however, this constitution, comprising a preamble and 13 articles, was adopted by Congress on Nov. 15, 1777. In their final form, the Articles retained the vote by states, but based the apportionment of taxes on the value of buildings and land, and specified that no state should be deprived of territory for the benefit of the United States.

The Articles

The preamble and Article 1 established a perpetual union of the Thirteen Colonies under the style of the United States of America. Article 2 asserted that each state retained its sovereignty and every right not expressly delegated to the central government, while Article 3 characterized the confederation as a "league of friendship," for common defense. In Article 4, the free inhabitants of each state were granted the privileges of free citizens in all the states, extradition was provided for, and it was stipulated that full faith and credit be given the records, acts, and judicial proceedings of the courts of one state by the courts of every other state.

Article 5 provided that each state send annually not less than two nor more than seven delegates to Congress, though each state was to have only one vote. Article 6 left the conduct of war to Congress, and Article 7 empowered the state legislatures to appoint military officers up to and including the rank of colonel. Article 8 provided that the charges of war and other expenses incurred for the common defense should be defrayed out of a common treasury.

Besides placing the conduct of foreign affairs in the hands of Congress, Article 9 authorized a system of settling disputes between states, granted Congress partial control over the currency, sanctioned the establishment of post offices by Congress, and established the Committee of the States, with one delegate from each state, to sit in recess of Congress. The authority of the central government was drastically restricted by this article, which forbade Congress to engage in war, negotiate treaties or alliances, coin money, emit bills of credit, or borrow and appropriate money without obtaining the consent of a majority of the states.

Provisions for the functioning of the Committee of the States and for the possible admission of Canada were made in Articles 10 and 11. Article 12 stated that pecuniary obligations of Congress were to be deemed a charge against the United States. Article 13 stipulated that the Articles of Confederation were to be unanimously ratified by the states before going into effect and that no alteration could be made unless agreed to both by Congress and by the legislature of every state.

By 1779 all the states had ratified the Articles except Maryland, which refused its assent until states claiming territory NW of the Ohio River relinquished their claims, thus guaranteeing the equitable right of all states to the Western lands. When New York, followed by Virginia and Connecticut, offered to cede to Congress its claims to Western territory, Maryland ratified (Mar. 1, 1781) the articles.

Shortcomings

While this constitution was a contribution to the techniques of government and a step toward national unity, most American historians hold that the Articles of Confederation proved wholly unsatisfactory because of the subordinate position occupied by the central government. Congress, dependent upon the states for its funds and for the execution of its decrees, became a legislative-executive body attempting to reconcile the policies of the various states. It could not extend its jurisdiction to individuals, command respect abroad by stabilizing credit, unify foreign and domestic policies, pass navigation regulations, or enforce treaty obligations.

Because of its inherent weaknesses, the government commanded little respect, and its prestige was further diminished by its inability to cope with internal uprisings such as Shays's Rebellion. Many capable statesmen who held key posts—e.g., Robert Morris, John Jay, and Benjamin Lincoln—were thwarted by this organization of government, while others, equally able, shunned service in Congress in favor of state politics. The unanimity rule enabled one state to prevent the passage of a measure desired by all the others. Thus, New York alone blocked the establishment of a vitally important tariff.

When it became apparent that government under the Articles of Confederation was, in the words of George Washington, "little more than the shadow without the substance," agitation for a stronger federal government began. This agitation resulted in the Annapolis Convention of 1786 and the Federal Constitutional Convention of 1787, which drafted the Constitution of the United States. Perhaps the most significant event of the Confederation period was the adoption of the Ordinance of 1787 concerning the Northwest Territory.

Bibliography

See A. Nevins, The American States during and after the Revolution, 1775–1789 (1924, repr. 1971). A more favorable view of the Articles of Confederation is given in the scholarly studies of M. Jensen, The Articles of Confederation (1940, repr. 1963) and The New Nation (1950, repr. 1962). See also study by S. A. Pleasants 3d (1968).

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Articles of Confederation

ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION

ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION. Between September 1774 and June 1776, delegates to the Continental Congress devised and debated several plans for establishing an independent constitutional union among the American colonies. In July 1775, Benjamin Franklin presented Congress with the first written plan for a new national government, the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. Other plans also were introduced during the following year, but it was not until 11 June 1776 that the Continental Congress appointed one committee to draft the Declaration of Independence and a second committee, composed of a single delegate from each colony, to prepare a plan of confederation. A month later, the latter committee presented Congress with a draft constitution known as the Articles of Confederation. The committee's constitution assigned broad powers to the new national government, including the authority to tax, to determine state boundaries, and to dispose of all other unsettled "Lands for the general Benefit." The draft document also placed restrictions upon the authority of the states; divided national expenses proportionally among the states according to their population; and most contentiously, granted each state delegation a single vote within a unicameral national Congress.

Despite general agreement for the Declaration of Independence and a widespread recognition of the need to provision the military resistance against Great Britain, there was no immediate constitutional consensus concerning the terms of a new national government. Rather, during the next year and one-half, state delegates discussed, debated, and periodically attempted to amend the original draft of the Articles of Confederation. A confluence of factors—including the norms of international protocol, wartime economic disruptions, the possibility of military defeat, and several critical changes in the draft constitution that weakened Congress's authority—helped secure Congress's endorsement of the Articles of Confederation on 15 November 1777. Several state legislatures quickly ratified the Articles, but others expressed strong reservations about one or more of its provisions. Indeed, about half of the states had approved the Articles of Confederation by the 10 March 1778 deadline established by Congress, yet unanimous approval was required to make the Articles effective. One of the most vocal state opponents, Maryland, objected to the lack of national control over the vast western territories and the state withheld its consent until Virginia in January 1781 agreed to a conditional cession of part of its western territorial claims. In March 1781, Maryland became the final state to ratify the Articles of Confederation.

Although the Articles remained in force until the new U.S. Constitution took effect in 1788, many provisions of this first national constitution had enduring constitutional effects. Article I, for example, identified the new union as "the United States of America." Article II determined that "each State retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence." Article III bound the states together into a "league of friendship" for their "common defense, the security of their Liberties, and their mutual and general welfare." Article IV guaranteed free inhabitants "all privileges and immunities" of the other states, and the right to travel freely across state boundaries. Article V granted each state a single vote in Congress. Article VI prohibited the states from making treaties with or war upon other countries without the consent of Congress. Article IX empowered Congress to make war and treaties; to borrow, to coin, and to regulate the value of money; and to appoint the commander in chief of the army or navy. That Article's powers, however, required the consent of nine of the thirteen states. Finally, Article XIII determined that the Articles could be amended with the approval of Congress and the unanimous consent of the state legislatures.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Kromkowski, Charles A. Recreating the American Republic: Rules of Apportionment, Constitutional Change, and American Political Development, 1700–1870. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

Matson, Cathy D., and Peter S. Onuf. A Union of Interests: Political and Economic Thought in Revolutionary America. Lawrence: Kansas University Press, 1990.

Rakove, Jack N. The Beginnings of National Politics: An Interpretive History of the Continental Congress. New York: Knopf, 1979.

Charles A.Kromkowski

See alsoConstitution of the United States ; Continental Congress ; andvol. 9:From Annapolis to Philadelphia .

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Articles of Confederation

ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION

The document that set forth the terms under which the original thirteen states agreed to participate in a centralized form of government, in addition to their self-rule, and that was in effect from March 1, 1781, to March 4, 1789, prior to the adoption of the Constitution.

The Articles of Confederation served as the first constitution of the newly formed United States. As it was originally drafted in 1776, the document provided for a strong central government. However, by the time it was ratified in 1781, advocates of states' rights had greatly weakened its provisions. Many of these advocates feared a centralization of power and wished to preserve a great degree of independence and sovereignty for each state. Accordingly, the Articles as they were ratified provided only for a "firm league of friendship," in which, according to article II of the document, "[e]ach State retains its sovereignty, freedom and independence."

The Articles included provisions for military cooperation between the states, freedom of travel, extradition of criminal suspects, and equal privileges and immunities for citizens. They also created a national legislature called the Congress. Each state had one vote in this body, that vote to be determined by a delegation of from two to seven representatives. The Articles called for Congress to conduct foreign relations, maintain a national army and navy, establish and maintain a postal service, and perform a number of other duties. The Articles did not create, as the Constitution later did, executive and judicial branches of government.

The Congress created by the Articles was successful on a number of fronts. In 1783, it negotiated with Great Britain a peace treaty that officially ended the Revolutionary War; it arranged to pay war debts; and it passed the northwest ordinance, which allowed for settlement and statehood in new regions in the western part of the United States. However, with time, it became apparent that the Articles had created an unsatisfactory union of the states, chiefly because they established a weak central government. For example, under the Articles of Confederation, Congress did not have the power to tax or to effectively regulate commerce. The resulting national government did not prove competent at such tasks as raising a military or creating a stable currency. In addition, because amendments to the Articles required a unanimous vote of all thirteen states, the Articles proved to be too inflexible to last.

A series of incidents in the 1780s made it clear to many early U.S. leaders that the Articles of Confederation would not serve as an effective constitution. Among these incidents was shays's rebellion, in 1786–87, an insurrection in which economically depressed farmers demanded debt relief and closed courts of law in western Massachusetts. The Congress of the Confederation was not able to raise a force to respond to this civil unrest, which was later put down by a state militia. george washington and other leaders perceived this as a grievous failure. Therefore, when a constitutional convention assembled in 1787 to amend the Articles, it quickly decided to abandon them altogether in favor of a new constitution. By June 21, 1788, nine states had ratified the new U.S. Constitution and made it effective. It has survived as the basis of U.S. government for over two hundred years.

further readings

Harrigan, John J. 1984. Politics and the American Future. Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley.

Kesavan, Vasan. 2002. "When Did the Articles of Confederation Cease to Be Law? Notre Dame Law Review 78 (December): 35–82.

Levy, Michael B. 1982. Political Thought in America: An Anthology. Homewood, Ill.: Dorsey Press.

cross-references

"Articles of Confederation" (Appendix, Primary Document); Constitution; Constitution of the United States; Federalism; Shays's Rebellion; Washington, George.

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Articles of Confederation

ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION

The Articles of Confederation comprised the governing document that was the forerunner to the Constitution of the United States (1789). Drafted by the Second Continental Congress at York, Pennsylvania, on November 15, 1777, the Articles of Confederation went into effect on March 1, 1781, when the last state (Maryland) ratified the document.

The Articles provided the original thirteen states (Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Virginia) with more power than the central government. Each state was given sovereignty and one vote in Congress. Congress, unable to levy taxes, had to rely on the states to do so. It was also left to the states to carry out the acts of Congress, whose powers were limited to declaring war and peace, managing foreign relations, commanding the military (an army and a navy), and issuing and borrowing money. But Congress had no authority to regulate commerce and each state was free to set up its own taxes, tariffs, and trade policies.

The inadequacies of the Articles of Confederation became clear in the first few years after they went into effect. In particular, as the post-war economy suffered a depression, the non-payment of farm mortgages and of taxes led to courts seizing the property of their citizens. This enraged the farming population, many of whom were veterans of the American Revolution (17751783). Many of these hard pressed farmers decided that the present government was no better than the British had been.

The most significant manifestation of this discontent was Shay's Rebellion (17861787). Daniel Shays, who had been a captain in the Continental Army, led a band of several thousand disgruntled farmers throughout western Massachusetts stopping the courts from seizing land for non-payment of taxes. The money to put down the rebellion had to be loaned to the Continental Congress by Boston bankers. This crisis convinced many of the political leaders of the new nation to conclude that the Articles of Confederation had to be revised. Once the process of revision was underway, the entire document was replaced by the Constitution.

James Madison (17511736) was among those who realized that the Articles made for a weak national government. He and others such as Alexander Hamilton (17551804) led the movement to change that orientation even at the expense of the states. Eventually, Hamilton and Madison won the backing of the other leaders like George Washington (17321799), John Jay (17451829), and Thomas Jefferson (17431836). Thus, political consensus among the political elite of the new nation led to the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention (1787), where the U.S. Constitution was drawn up.

One lasting provision of the Articles of Confederation was the Ordinance of 1787. Adopted early in the era of westward expansion, the ordinance established guidelines for how the nation could enlarge itself. Un-surveyed wilderness would eventually attract settlers. A legislature would be elected as soon as the population included five thousand voting citizens (men only) and the territory would be eligible for statehood once its population had reached sixty thousand.

See also: Constitution, Continental Congress (Second), Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, Shays' Rebellion, George Washington

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"Articles of Confederation." Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History. 1999. Encyclopedia.com. 26 Jul. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Articles of Confederation

Articles of Confederation (1781) First Federal constitution of the USA, drafted by the Continental Congress in 1777. Distrust of central authority and state rivalries produced a weak central government, with Congress dependent on the states and unable to enforce its own legislation. Alexander Hamilton and James Madison analysed the weakness of the Articles in The Federalist, and the Constitutional Convention met in 1787 to draft the Constitution of the United States.

http://www.usconstitution.net/articles.html

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Confederation, Articles of

Confederation, Articles of See Articles of Confederation

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