The Revolutionary Era: Primary Documents on Events from 1776 to 1800

By Carol Sue Humphrey | Go to book overview
Save to active project

CHAPTER 6

The Articles of Confederation, 1777–1781

Once the fighting started in 1775, the British colonial governments slowly ceased to function. The Continental Congress had to take charge and function as a government. On the same day the Congress appointed the committee to write the Declaration of Independence, it also appointed a committee to write a document laying out a form of government for the new nation.

The chair of the committee, John Dickinson, presented the results on July 12, 1776. Following debate and revisions by the Continental Congress, the final version of the Articles of Confederation was approved in November 1777. The government Congress approved addressed many of the concerns that had sparked the American Revolution in the first place. Fearing the power of a strong central government, the Articles proposed a decentralized system with much of the power remaining at the state level. The United States would be ruled by a one-house legislature, with each state having one vote. There would be no independent executive or president, but there was also no prime minister as existed in the British system. The national Congress would concentrate its work and attention primarily in the area of foreign affairs. Congress could request support from the states, financial or otherwise, but there was no mechanism to force state support of the national government.

By and large, the states were supportive of the Articles of Confederation and many approved them fairly quickly. However, there was one major stumbling block. The issue of western lands threatened to derail the entire process. A number of states, especially Virginia, had claims to large areas west of the Appalachian Mountains because of their original sea-to-sea grants from the king of England. Other states, like Pennsylvania and Maryland, had very clearly defined boundaries in their original charters and thus could claim no additional territory.

-93-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Revolutionary Era: Primary Documents on Events from 1776 to 1800
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 359

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?