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Articles of Confederation

Articles of Confederation
Articles page1.jpg
Page I of the Articles of Confederation
Created November 15, 1777
Ratified March 1, 1781
Location National Archives
Author(s) Continental Congress
Signatories Continental Congress
Purpose First constitution for the United States; replaced by the current United States Constitution on September 13, 1788

The Articles of Confederation, formally the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, was an agreement among all thirteen original states in the United States of America that served as its first constitution. Its drafting by a committee appointed by the Second Continental Congress began on July 12, 1776, and an approved version was sent to the states for ratification in late 1777. The formal ratification by all thirteen states was completed in early 1781. Government under the Articles was superseded by a new constitution and federal form of government in 1789.

Even unratified, the Articles provided a system for the Continental Congress to direct the American Revolutionary War, conduct diplomacy with Europe and deal with territorial issues and Native American relations. Nevertheless, the weakness of the government created by the Articles became a matter of concern for key nationalists. On March 4, 1789, the general government under the Articles was replaced with the federal government under the United States Constitution. The new Constitution provided for a much stronger federal government by establishing a chief executive (the President), courts, and taxing powers.

The political push to increase cooperation among the then-loyal colonies began with the Albany Congress in 1754 and Benjamin Franklin's proposed Albany Plan of Union, an inter-colonial collaboration to help solve mutual local problems. The Articles of Confederation would bear some resemblance to it. Over the next two decades, some of the basic concepts it addressed would strengthen and others would weaken, particularly the degree of deserved loyalty to the crown. With civil disobedience resulting in coercive, and what the colonials perceived as intolerable acts of Parliament, and armed conflict resulting in dissidents being proclaimed rebels and outside the King's protection, any loyalty remaining shifted toward independence and how to achieve it. In 1775, with events outpacing communications, the Second Continental Congress began acting as the provisional government to run the American Revolutionary War and gain the colonies their collective independence.


# State Date
1 Virginia December 16, 1777
2 South Carolina February 5, 1778
3 New York February 6, 1778
4 Rhode Island February 9, 1778
5 Connecticut February 12, 1778
6 Georgia February 26, 1778
7 New Hampshire March 4, 1778
8 Pennsylvania March 5, 1778
9 Massachusetts March 10, 1778
10 North Carolina April 5, 1778
11 New Jersey November 19, 1778
12 Delaware February 1, 1779
13 Maryland February 2, 1781
President of Congress Office Start Office Exit
Samuel Huntington March 1, 1781 July 9, 1781
Thomas McKean July 10, 1781 November 4, 1781
John Hanson November 5, 1781 November 3, 1782
Elias Boudinot November 4, 1782 November 2, 1783
Thomas Mifflin November 3, 1783 October 31, 1784
Richard Henry Lee November 30, 1784 November 6, 1785
John Hancock November 23, 1785 May 29, 1786
Nathaniel Gorham June 6, 1786 November 5, 1786
Arthur St. Clair February 2, 1787 November 4, 1787
Cyrus Griffin January 22, 1788 November 2, 1788

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