The Continental Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation. the first constitution of the United States, on November 15, 1777. However, ratification of the Articles of Confederation by all thirteen states did not occur until March 1, 1781. The Articles created a loose confederation of sovereign states and a weak central government, leaving most of the power with the state governments. The need for a stronger Federal government soon became apparent and eventually led to the Constitutional Convention in 1787. The present United States Constitution replaced the Articles of Confederation on March 4, 1789.
Important milestones related to the Articles of Confederation include the following references in the Journals of the Continental Congress :
- June 11, 1776 – The Continental Congress resolved that a committee be appointed to prepare and digest the form of a confederation to be entered into between these colonies.
- June 12, 1776 – The committee members were appointed to prepare and digest the form of a confederation to be entered into between these colonies.
- July 12, 1776 – The first draft of the Articles of Confederation was presented to the Continental Congress.
- November 15, 1777 – The Continental Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation.
- November 17, 1777 – The Articles of Confederation were submitted to the states with a request for immediate action.
- June 25, 1778 – A committee of three was appointed to prepare the form of a ratification of the Articles of Confederation.
- June 26, 1778 – The Articles of Confederation were ordered to be engrossed.
- June 27, 1778 – The first engrossed copy was found to be incorrect, and a second engrossed copy was ordered.
- July 9, 1778 – The second engrossed copy of the Articles of Confederation was signed and ratified by the delegates from eight states: New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and South Carolina.
- July 21, 1778 – North Carolina delegates signed the ratification of the Articles of Confederation.
- July 24, 1778 – Georgia delegates signed the ratification of the Articles of Confederation.
- November 26, 1778 – New Jersey delegates signed the ratification of the Articles of Confederation.
- May 5, 1779 – Delaware delegates signed the ratification of the Articles of Confederation.
- March 1, 1781 – Maryland delegates signed the ratification of the Articles of Confederation. The Articles were finally ratified by all thirteen states.
- February 21, 1787 – Congress approved a plan to hold a convention in Philadelphia to revise the Articles of Confederation.
Search the Journals of the Continental Congress using the word confederation or the phrase Articles of Confederation to locate additional information on this topic.
The Letters of Delegates to Congress contains drafts of the Articles of Confederation by Josiah Bartlett and John Dickinson from late June 1776. Both Bartlett and Dickinson were members of the committee responsible for writing the draft of the Articles of Confederation. This publication also includes a few notes on the plan of Confederation written by Bartlett.
Elliot’s Debates provides a summary of the ratification process for the Articles of Confederation, a transcript of Thomas Jefferson’s notes of debate on confederation, and another copy of the Articles .
The Printed Ephemera collection comprises 28,000 primary-source items dating from the seventeenth century to the present and encompasses key events and eras in American history.
This collection contains 277 documents relating to the work of Congress and the drafting and ratification of the Constitution. It includes the essay To Form a More Perfect Union. which provides background information on the weaknesses in the Articles of Confederation and the call for a new Constitution.
The Madison Papers consist of approximately 12,000 items, spanning the period 1723-1859, captured in some 72,000 digital images.
- James Madison’s Vices of the Political System of the U. States outlined the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation.
Search Madison’s papers using the word confederation to locate additional documents related to the Articles of Confederation and the Confederation Government.
The complete Thomas Jefferson Papers from the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress consists of approximately 27,000 documents.
Search this collection to find additional documents that mention the Articles of Confederation.
This online exhibition offers insights into how the nation’s founding documents were forged and the role that imagination and vision played in the unprecedented creative act of forming a selfgoverning country. The section of the exhibition Road to the Constitution contains a number of documents related to the Articles of Confederation.
The Teachers Page
Provides an overview of the Confederation Government and links to related documents.
Today in History
On November 15, 1777, the second Continental Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union.
Members of the Constitutional Convention signed the final draft of the Constitution on September 17, 1787.
External Web Sites
Hoffert, Robert W. A Politics of Tensions: The Articles of Confederation and American Political Ideas. Niwot: University Press of Colorado, 1992. [Catalog Record ]
Jensen, Merrill. The Articles of Confederation: An Interpretation of the Social-Constitutional History of the American Revolution 1774-1781. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1970. [Catalog Record ]
—–. The New Nation: A History of the United States during the Confederation, 1781-1789. New York: Knopf, 1950. [Catalog Record ]
Wood, Gordon S. The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1969. [Catalog Record ]
Callahan, Kerry P. The Articles of Confederation: A Primary Source Investigation into the Document that Preceded the U.S. Constitution. New York: Rosen Primary Source, 2003. [Catalog Record ]
Feinberg, Barbara Silberdick. The Articles of Confederation: The First Constitution of the United States. Brookfield, Conn. Twenty-First Century Books, 2002. [Catalog Record ]
Price Hossell, Karen. The Articles of Confederation. Chicago: Heinemann Library, 2004. [Catalog Record ]
Roza, Greg. Evaluating the Articles of Confederation: Determining the Validity of Information and Arguments. New York: Rosen Pub. 2006. [Catalog Record ]