The New Student's Reference Work/Articles of Confederation

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Ar'ticles of Confederation. In 1776 the Continental Congress appointed a committee to draw up “Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union.” This committee prepared the articles of confederation and submitted them to Congress in 1776. It is not definitely known who wrote them. In the fall of 1777 the articles were sent to the legislatures of all the states for consideration. Within a year and a half all the states, excepting Maryland, had ratified them. Maryland refused to do so until all the states claiming any of the northwestern lands should give up their claims to the Confederation. These claims were finally granted, and Maryland ratified the articles in 1781.

As the provisions of the articles went into effect, their weakness became very apparent. Congress was the governing body, and in it each state had one vote. On all important questions the approval of nine states was necessary to pass an act; thus a few states could easily defeat any measure. The main difficulty with this whole plan of government was that Congress could only recommend to the various states that they collect certain sums of money, or raise an army of a certain size, or perform other acts for the good of the country; but had no means of enforcing its recommendations. There was no well-defined executive department, and no courts were provided. A committee which was appointed by Congress and which contained one member from each state acted during the recess of Congress and performed such duties as Congress directed. The difficulties which at once arose from so loose and incomplete a plan of government soon became so serious that a change was necessary, and so our present federal constitution was prepared and adopted.