When the Second Continental Congress was considering independence from Great Britain and forming the Committee of Five to write a declaration they also formed a committee to write a set of rules for governing the new nation. Since 1774 when the First Continental Congress met in Carpenters Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania the congress had operated by the Articles of Association, a set of policies by which the thirteen colonies agreed to abide. But with independence they would no longer do.
A committee was formed on June 12, 1776 with 13 members led by John Dickinson. Their task was to write what would be a constitution for the new country. Their first draft was presented to congress exactly one month later but many revisions were required. The final draft was not complete until a year later in the summer of 1777. Once approved by the members of congress the Articles of Confederation were sent out to the states for ratification. This was not completed until 1781 though the Articles were put in effect as soon as congress approved them.
Having struggled so long with an over powering central government distanced from the people, the writers of the Articles deliberately made it weak, so much so that it ended up not lasting much past the end of the Revolution. Under the Articles the states retained their sovereignty over the operations of government within their own borders. Very few powers were given over to the Continental Congress. Specifically that body could make war and negotiate peace, make treaties with foreign powers, and decide disputes between the states. In reality the government created by the Articles was so dependent on the states that it could not do much of anything.
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Today some people look to that as preferable to what we have today. But were they better? In order to compare them with the Constitution we must first know what is in them. That is what we will be doing over the next two weeks.