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Articles of Confederation

Articles Of Confederation

The Articles of Confederation were the first constitution of the United States. During 1776–1777, a congressional committee led by JOHN DICKINSON of Pennsylvania (who had drafted the Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking up Arms in 1775) wrote the Articles and submitted them to the states for ratification in 1777. Ratification was delayed by disputes between the states with extensive western lands and the "landless" states such as Maryland. On March 1, 1781, after the landed states agreed to cede their lands to Congress, the new government came into existence.

The Articles of Confederation reflected the new nation's fear of centralized power and authority. Under the Articles the states were more powerful than the central government, which consisted only of a Congress. Each state had one vote in Congress, with that vote determined by a delegation of from two to seven representatives. Though the Congress had the authority to regulate foreign affairs, wage war, and maintain the postal system, it had no power to levy and collect taxes or regulate interstate commerce.

Critics of the Articles multiplied until finally, in 1787, Congress summoned a convention to draft a revised constitution. On March 4, 1789, the new U.S. Constitution took effect, superseding the Articles of Confederation.

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