Today In History
The Second Continental Congress approves the Articles of Confederation and submits it to the states for ratification on November 15, 1777.
The full title of what was the United States’ first constitution was “Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union.” Time and time again in history, the word “perpetual” and its synonyms get would-be statesmen into trouble. The government formed under the Articles lasted less a dozen years or so and there was a little problem with holding everybody together in the 1860s (though maybe if the U.S. had stuck with the Articles of Confederation, the Civil War would have been avoided; it’s almost certainly not true, but there’s no way of knowing one way or the other).
The Articles created a congress with each state having one vote, the delegates to which were appointed by state legislatures. It was a weak central government — in fact, the Articles didn’t explicitly create a nation, but instead “a firm league of friendship.” The best part of the whole thing, really, is the promise to let Canada join up if they wanted. There was no executive or judicial branch. Congress couldn’t tax or regulate commerce and there was no common currency. So hard to believe this didn’t work out.
Anyway, the center could not hold, because the center was made of straw and by the late 1780s, it was apparent some changes needed to be made.
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