Articles of Confederation


On June 11, 1776, the Second Continental Congress appointed three committees in response to the Lee Resolution proposing independence for the American colonies. One of these committees, created to determine the form of a confederation of the colonies, was composed of one representative from each colony. John Dickinson, the delegate from Delaware, was the principal writer. Dickinson’s draft of the Articles of Confederation named the new country "the United States of America." It also provided for a Congress with representation based on population, and gave to the national government all powers not designated to the states. After considerable debate and alteration, Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation on November 15, 1777. Under the articles, each state retained "every Power...which is not by this confederation expressly delegated to the United States." Each state had one vote in Congress. Instead of forming a strong national government, the states entered into "a firm league of friendship with each other." Because of disputes over representation, voting, and western lands claimed by some states, ratification by all 13 states, necessary to bring the confederation into being, was not completed until March 1, 1781, when Maryland became the last state to ratify.

Last updated: January 8, 2018