The Articles of Confederation was the first constitution of the United States. It was first created in the middle of the American Revolution, in 1777. Thus, the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union was an agreement among 13 original states of the United States of America. Each state maintains its sovereignty and all rights to the government except the rights that are specifically granted to congress.
However, after much debate, it was first approved on 15th November of 1777 by the Second Continental Congress. As a result, the Articles of Confederation came into force on 1st March of 1781.
The document provided the rules for how the state’s “league of friendship” would be organized. However, there are standards that the state should follow to help maintain good relationships among them.
Article of Confederation timeline
- January 1776: Publication of Article of Confederation and Perpetual Union.
- June 7, 1776: Richard Henry Lee proposes Independence in Congress.
- June 12, 1776: Committee appointed to draft Article of Confederation.
- July 2, 1776: Draft of the Articles submitted to Congress.
- July 4, 1776: the U.S declares Independence.
- November 15, 1777: Congress completes the Articles of Confederation.
- July 9, 1778: Eight among the thirteen states officially ratify the Articles.
- March 1, 1781: The Articles of Confederation take influence (Establishment of the U.S Government)
- September 3, 1783: Signing of the Treaty of Paris.
- January 25, 1787: Shay’s Rebellion
- September 11-14,1786: The Annapolis Convention asked for amending the Article of Confederation
- September 17, 1987: Draft of Constitution submitted to the states for ratification.
Article of Confederation: description of articles
Articles 1-2 of the Article of Confederation
- State Sovereignty:
By signing the document, each state agrees to the form of government described in the Articles of Confederation and their state permanently will be called the United States.
Articles 3-4 of the Article of Confederation
- Interstate relations:
Each of the thirteen states of the United States commits to a firm “friendship” with each of the other states. Hence, they are united to defend their independence and ensure a good relationship between them. However, any person living in one state has the same rights as the person living in any other state of the United States.
Article 5 of the Article of Confederation
- Representation in Congress:
Each state can decide how it wants to select its delegates but it has to do once a year before the annual meeting. However, the annual meeting is conducted on the first Monday of November.
- States can send between two to seven delegates to Congress.
- Delegates have protected freedom of speech while they are serving in Congress.
- Delegates may not be arrested or put in prison while they are in Congress.
Article 6 of the Article of Confederation
- Powers denied to states:
States are denied certain powers under the Article of Confederation.
- States can not send ambassadors to foreign countries. Moreover, they can’t receive foreign ambassadors or make any meeting or treaty with any king, prince, or state.
- Any person or any state can not accept any gift (including titles of nobility) from a foreign state.
- A state does not have the power to make war without the permission of Congress unless it is a surprise attack and can not wait for the permission.
Articles 7-8 of the Article of Confederation
- War preparation:
When raising an army to defend the United States, each state legislature has the authority to name all the colonels and lesser officers.
- At the time of war, the common treasury will supply any money needed to pay for war or to defend the country when allowed by Congress.
Article 9 of the Article of Confederation
- Powers of Congress:
The only congress has the right to make peace and make war(except those cases described in article 6). However, Congress also has the exclusive right to permit private ships to attack enemy ships.
Article 10 of the Article of Confederation
- The Committee of the States:
When Congress is not in session, a committee called the Committee of the States has the full authority to act in its place. Thus, they can even take on additional powers if necessary. However, it is only applicable when the nine of all States agree.
Article 11 of the Article of Confederation
If Canada chooses to declare its independence and agrees to the terms of the Articles of Confederation, it can join the union and become a fully sovereign State like all the other States.
Article 12 of the Article of Confederation
- Debts of Congress:
The United States takes full financial responsibility for all the debts accrued and money borrowed under the authority of the Second Continental Congress. It was done during the American Revolution. However, the United States solemnly pledges to repay all the debts.
Article 13 of the Article of Confederation
- Pledge of Perpetual Union:
Each state must accept and agree to follow the decisions of the United States in Congress assembled. Equally important, the State must follow all the rules stated in the Article of Confederation.Read Also:Differences between Heterochromatin and Euchromatin
Article of Confederation: Strengths and Weaknesses
Though the Articles of Confederation had few points of strength, the numbers of weaknesses are more.
Strengths of Articles of Confederation:
- 1st constitution.
- Central Government.
- Congress could: Declare war. They can make peace. Further, they can sign treaties with other nations. However, they can deliver mail and can create money.
- Ran country during the revolutionary war.
- Passed the land Northwest Ordinance to regulate Western lands.
Weaknesses of Articles of Confederation:
- The weak national government and too strong state government.
- Unicameral legislature (congress).
- However, states only have one representative and one vote in congress.
- Further, no executive branch or president.
- However, Congress had no power to lay or collect taxes.
- They had no power to regulate interstate or foreign trade.
- Congress had no power to enforce its laws.
- Further, approval of nine states was needed to enact laws.
- Amendments to the Articles required the consent of all thirteen states.
- Additionally, there was no national court system.
Some frequently asked questions about the Article of Confederation
Q. What are the Articles of Confederation and why are they important?
Ans. The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union was an agreement among the 13 original states of the United States of America. However, the Confederation provided the new nation with instructive experience in self-government under a written document.
Q. What were the 4 major problems of the Articles of Confederation?
Ans. Congress had no power to lay or collect taxes. Thus, they had no power to regulate interstate or foreign trade. However, Congress had no power to enforce its laws. Approval of nine states was needed to enact laws. Amendments to the Articles required the consent of all thirteen states.
Q. Why did the Articles of Confederation fail?
Ans. The articles made the national government weak which is the only reason for the failure finally.
Q. Who signed the Articles of Confederation?
Ans. 84 official peoples of 13 states of USA.
Q. What are the similarities between the Articles of Confederation and the United States Constitution?
Ans. Both allow states to levy their militias, but they fall under the command of the Federal Government when deployed in times of war.