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The Articles of Confederation

After the Revolutionary War, the American states were independent from Great Britain. They needed to create a system of government to run this new nation. The first system created was known as the Articles of Confederation and was adopted by the Congress on November 15, 1777. In its final form, the Articles of Confederation were comprised of a preamble and 13 articles.

The Articles of Confederation were finally ratified by the last of the 13 American states, Maryland, in 1781 and became the ruling document in the new nation. The Articles created a nation that was "a league of friendship and perpetual union."

The Articles of Confederation
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The state governments retained most of the power under the Articles, with little power given to the central government. Congress, for example, had to rely upon the states for its funds and for the execution of its decrees. The central government received little respect and was not able to accomplish much because it had little authority over states or individuals in America.

In the words of George Washington, the government created by the Articles of the Confederation was "little more than the shadow without the substance." As the need for a stronger federal government began to be realized, leaders from throughout the states got together to decide how to create it. The Federal Constitutional Convention of 1787 was responsible for drafting the Constitution of the United States, the document which took the place of the Articles of Confederation in 1789 and created a stronger central government.

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Last updated: February 26, 2003
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