LA California Riots Begin

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Articles of Confederation (1777)

The Articles of Confederation were adopted by the Continental Congress on November 15, 1777. This document served as the United States’ first constitution. It was in force from March 1, 1781, until 1789 when the present-day Constitution went into effect.

After the Lee Resolution proposed independence for the American colonies, the Second Continental Congress appointed three committees on June 11, 1776. One of the committees was tasked with determining what form the confederation of the colonies should take. This committee was composed of one representative from each colony. John Dickinson, a delegate from Delaware, was the principal writer.

The Dickinson Draft of the Articles of Confederation named the confederation “the United States of America.” After considerable debate and revision, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation on November 15, 1777. 

The document seen here is the engrossed and corrected version that was adopted on November 15. It consists of six sheets of parchment stitched together. The last sheet bears the signatures of delegates from all 13 states.

This “first constitution of the United States” established a “league of friendship” for the 13 sovereign and independent states. Each state retained “every Power…which is not by this confederation expressly delegated to the United States.” The Articles of Confederation also outlined a Congress with representation based on population – each state would have one vote in Congress.

Ratification by all 13 states was necessary to set the Confederation into motion. Because of disputes over representation, voting, and the western lands claimed by some states, ratification was delayed. When Maryland ratified it on March 1, 1781, the Congress of the Confederation came into being.

Just a few years after the Revolutionary War, however, James Madison and George Washington were among those who feared their young country was on the brink of collapse. With the states retaining considerable power, the central government had insufficient power to regulate commerce. It could not tax and was generally impotent in setting commercial policy. Nor could it effectively support a war effort. Congress was attempting to function with a depleted treasury; and paper money was flooding the country, creating extraordinary inflation.

The states were on the brink of economic disaster; and the central government had little power to settle quarrels between states. Disputes over territory, war pensions, taxation, and trade threatened to tear the country apart.

In May of 1787, the Constitutional Convention assembled in Philadelphia to revise the Articles of Confederation. They shuttered the windows of the State House (Independence Hall) and swore secrecy so they could speak freely. By mid-June the delegates had decided to completely redesign the government. After three hot, summer months of highly charged debate, the new Constitution was signed, which remains in effect today.

The Articles of Confederation were adopted by the Continental Congress on November 15, 1777. This document served as the United States’ first constitution. It was in force from March 1, 1781, until 1789 when the present-day Constitution went into effect.

After the Lee Resolution proposed independence for the American colonies, the Second Continental Congress appointed three committees on June 11, 1776. One of the committees was tasked with determining what form the confederation of the colonies should take. This committee was composed of one representative from each colony. John Dickinson, a delegate from Delaware, was the principal writer.

The Dickinson Draft of the Articles of Confederation named the confederation “the United States of America.” After considerable debate and revision, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation on November 15, 1777. 

The document seen here is the engrossed and corrected version that was adopted on November 15. It consists of six sheets of parchment stitched together. The last sheet bears the signatures of delegates from all 13 states.

This “first constitution of the United States” established a “league of friendship” for the 13 sovereign and independent states. Each state retained “every Power…which is not by this confederation expressly delegated to the United States.” The Articles of Confederation also outlined a Congress with representation based on population – each state would have one vote in Congress.

Ratification by all 13 states was necessary to set the Confederation into motion. Because of disputes over representation, voting, and the western lands claimed by some states, ratification was delayed. When Maryland ratified it on March 1, 1781, the Congress of the Confederation came into being.

Just a few years after the Revolutionary War, however, James Madison and George Washington were among those who feared their young country was on the brink of collapse. With the states retaining considerable power, the central government had insufficient power to regulate commerce. It could not tax and was generally impotent in setting commercial policy. Nor could it effectively support a war effort. Congress was attempting to function with a depleted treasury; and paper money was flooding the country, creating extraordinary inflation.

The states were on the brink of economic disaster; and the central government had little power to settle quarrels between states. Disputes over territory, war pensions, taxation, and trade threatened to tear the country apart.

In May of 1787, the Constitutional Convention assembled in Philadelphia to revise the Articles of Confederation. They shuttered the windows of the State House (Independence Hall) and swore secrecy so they could speak freely. By mid-June the delegates had decided to completely redesign the government. After three hot, summer months of highly charged debate, the new Constitution was signed, which remains in effect today.

The questions Congress should — but didn’t — ask about UFOs