The Original United States Constitution: The Articles of Confederation



“To all to whom these Presents shall come, we the undersigned Delegates of the States affixed to our Names send greeting.

Articles of Confederation and perpetual Union between the states of New Hampshire, Massachusetts-bay Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.”

The Articles of Confederation was the original United States Constitution ratified by Congress in 1781. In need of stronger government, the Articles were later replaced by the United States Constitution in 1788.

In 1775, the American Revolutionary War began, then in 1776, the Colonies declared their independence with the Declaration of independence. However, they needed a constitution with their own set of laws. So, a committee comprised of thirteen men was appointed by the Second Continental Congress to draft a constitution.



John Dickinson, the chairman of the committee, presented their draft of the country’s new constitution on July 12, 1776, not long after the Declaration of Independence. After many long days spent debating and discussing the document, preparations for the final began the following summer. Then, on November 15, 1777, the Second Continental Congress approved the Articles of Confederation for ratification.

Virginia became the first state to ratify the Articles on December 16, 1777. For it to be passed though, all thirteen states had to ratify it though. South Carolina came next on February 5, 1778 followed by New York (February 6), Rhode Island (February 9), Connecticut (February 12), Georgia (February 26), New Hampshire (March 4), Pennsylvania (March 5), Massachusetts (March 10), North Carolina (April 5), and New Jersey (November 19) all in 1778. Delaware ratified it next on February 2, 1779 and Maryland became the final state the two years later on February 2, 1781. Once the states had all ratified the document, the Articles of Confederation became effective.

In all, the Articles of Confederation consisted of a preamble, thirteen articles, a conclusion, and a space for signatures. Forty-eight delegates from all thirteen states signed the Articles, among them being John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Gouverneur Morris, and many other political figures. 

The Articles stated things such as the country would be called The United States of America, if Canada (Province of Quebec) wanted to ratify the document then they would be apart of the country too, and each state would be independent. It also stated that only the federal government had the right to declare war and each state had one vote in the Congress of the Confederation.

Not enough power was given to the federal government though, making it weak. They needed a stronger government and set of laws. Because of the weakness of the Articles of Confederation, the Constitutional Convention took place six years after the ratification of the Articles beginning on May 25, 1787. The Articles were eventually replaced by the Constitution, making for a much stronger and more stable government for the new country. You can read the document here.