Articles of Confederation

The Second Continental Congress created the Articles of Confederation (1781-1789) in order to promote their common defense (Article 3) and bind them more tightly together.  These Articles were the beginning of what would eventually become our system of federal government.

The Articles of Confederation were meant to preserve the autonomy of the states (Article 2).  The Articles, therefore, lacked any powers to overrule any kinds of policies by individual states. The Articles did not include any central executive authority.1 There was no authority to levy taxes or regulate commerce. Congress could ask the states for money but, after the War of Independence, few were willing to comply.  Without tax revenue, the Confederation accumulated debt and could not pay the Revolutionary soldiers for their service.

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1. The Congress annually elected an individual who served as the President of the Congress.  The President of the Congress chaired the Committee of the States when Congress was in recess, and performed other administrative functions. All executive powers were controlled by Congress.  The full text of the Articles are here: flash=true&doc=3&page=transcript

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