Articles of Confederation

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The Articles of Confederation were the first written plan of government for the United States of America. This lasted from 1776 to 1787. A confederation is a group of states who cooperate for a common purpose.

Contents[change | edit source]

Even though the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution were established by many of the same people, the two documents were very different. The original five-paged Articles contained thirteen articles, a conclusion, and a signatory section. The following list contains short summaries of each of the thirteen articles.

  1. Establishes the name of the confederation as "The United States of America."
  2. Asserts the precedence of the separate states over the confederation government, i.e. "Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated."
  3. Establishes the United States as a league of states united ". . . 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 . . . ."
  4. Establishes freedom of movement–anyone can pass freely between states, excluding "paupers, vagabonds, and fugitives from justice." All people are entitled to the rights established by the state into which he travels. If a crime is committed in one state and the perpetrator flees to another state, he will be extradited to and tried in the state in which the crime was committed.
  5. Allocates one vote in the Congress of the Confederation (United States in Congress Assembled) to each state, which was entitled to a delegation of between two and seven members. Members of Congress were appointed by state legislatures; individuals could not serve more than three out of any six years.
  6. Only the central government is allowed to conduct foreign relations and to declare war. No states have navies or standing armies, or engage in war, without permission of Congress (although the state militias are encouraged).
  7. When an army is raised for common defense, colonels and military ranks below colonel will be named by the state legislatures.
  8. Expenditures by the United States will be paid by funds raised by state legislatures, and apportioned to the states based on the real property values of each.
  9. Defines the powers of the central government: to declare war, to set weights and measures (including coins), and for Congress to serve as a final court for disputes between states.
  10. Defines a Committee of the States to be a government when Congress is not in session.
  11. Requires nine states to approve the admission of a new state into the confederacy; pre-approves Canada, if it applies for membership.
  12. Reaffirms that the Confederation accepts war debt incurred by Congress before the Articles.
  13. Declares that the Articles are perpetual, and can only be altered by approval of Congress with ratification by all the state legislatures.

Gallery[change | edit source]

References[change | edit source]

  • R. B. Bernstein, "Parliamentary Principles, American Realities: The Continental and Confederation Congresses, 1774-1789," in Inventing Congress: Origins & Establishment Of First Federal Congress ed by Kenneth R. Bowling and Donald R. Kennon (1999) pp 76–108
  • Burnett, Edmund Cody. The Continental Congress: A Definitive History of the Continental Congress From Its Inception in 1774 to March, 1789 (1941)
  • Barbara Feinberg, The Articles Of Confederation (2002). [for middle school children.]
  • Robert W. Hoffert, A Politics of Tensions: The Articles of Confederation and American Political Ideas (1992).
  • Lucille E. Horgan. Forged in War: The Continental Congress and the Origin of Military Supply and Acquisition Policy (2002)
  • Merrill Jensen, The Articles of Confederation: An Interpretation of the Social-Constitutional History of the American Revolution, 1774-1781 (1959).
  • Merrill Jensen: "The Idea of a National Government During the American Revolution", Political Science Quarterly, 58 (1943), 356-79. online at JSTOR
  • Calvin Jillson and Rick K. Wilson. Congressional Dynamics: Structure, Coordination, and Choice in the First American Congress, 1774-1789. (1994)
  • Forest McDonald.Novus Ordo Seclorum: The Intellectual Origins of the Constitution. (1985)
  • Andrew C. Mclaughlin, A Constitutional History of the United States (1935) online version
  • Pauline Maier, American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence (1998).
  • Jackson T. Main, Political Parties before the Constitution. University of North Carolina Press, 1974
  • Jack N. Rakove, The Beginnings of National Politics: An Interpretive History of the Continental Congress (1982).
  • Jack N. Rakove, “The Collapse of the Articles of Confederation,” in The American Founding: Essays on the Formation of the Constitution. Ed by J. Jackson Barlow, Leonard W. Levy and Ken Masugi. Greenwood Press. 1988. pp 225–45 ISBN 0-313-25610-1

Further reading[change | edit source]

  • Klos, Stanley L. (2004). President Who? Forgotten Founders. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Evisum, Inc.. pp. 261. ISBN 0-9752627-5-0.

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