Articles of Confederation

(1777)

The Articles of Confederation, sometimes called the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, was the first constitution of the United States and the American colonies' first successful attempt to form a unified government. The colonies' different interests and Great Britain's hesitance to see a unified colonial structure had sabotaged previous attempts for union. The Declaration of Independence made it imperative that some type of union be created, not only to coordinate the Revolutionary War but also to create a single state to deal with foreign nations whose assistance the country needed.

The Articles of Confederation set up a government that united the states through a confederate legislature—the Congress of the Confederation (the successor to the Second Continental Congress). The Confederation, however, had only certain powers given to it; all other powers were reserved for the states. Individual colonies wanted to retain their sovereignty and looked suspiciously...

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The Articles of Confederation (National Archives and Records Administration)

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