Articles of Confederation | Primary Source Essentials
Why did the Articles of Confederation fail? In this rapid-fire episode of BRI’s Primary Source Essentials and Article of Confederation summary, learn why the first U.S. national government plan contain critical flaws that prevent its success and how they were addressed when drafting the Constitution.
Articles of Confederation (1781)
This was the first governing document of the United States of America. It was adopted by the Second Continental Congress in November 1777 and ratified by the states in 1781.
The Articles of Confederation
In 1777, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation, the first government of the independent United States. The Articles created a "confederacy," an association of sovereign states. Every state was its own country, except with respect to those powers expressly delegated to the U.S. Congress, and it agreed to do certain things for and with the other states in the confederacy. But by the mid-1780s, more and more people were becoming concerned about problems with the Articles.
The Constitutional Convention
During the “critical period” after the American Revolution, many were concerned that the Articles of Confederation were inadequate for the states to grow commercially and economically. The Confederation Congress announced a meeting to revise the Articles of Confederation, but not everyone was convinced that the Articles needed revision—or even that the goals of the Convention were admirable. Divisions emerged among the delegates regarding centralized power, executive power, representation, and slavery.