The United States of America constitute a union of States, "a more perfect Union," to use the language of the preamble to the Constitution, than that under the Articles of Confederation which the Constitution was devised to supplant. On July 4, 1776, the thirteen British colonies lying between the Gulf of Mexico and Canada, to the east of the Mississippi, abjured allegiance to the British Crown and solemnly published and declared themselves to be "Free and Independent States" possessing, as the Declaration of Independence stated, "full power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do." Availing themselves of their right to contract alliances, they entered into "a firm league of friendship with each other, for their common defence, the security of their liberties, and their mutual and general welfare, binding themselves to assist each other, against all force offered to, or attacks made upon them, or any of them, on account of religion, sovereignty, trade, or any other pretence whatever." "Stiling" this confederation "The United States of America," and declaring in explicit terms that "each State retains its sovereignty, freedom and independence, and every power, jurisdiction and right, which is not by this confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled," the Articles of Confederation creating this union of the States were approved by their delegates in Congress November 15, 1777, and ratified by the last of the thirteen States on March 1, 1781.
The firm league of friendship failing of the purposes for which it was created by the delegates of the States in Congress assembled and ratified by the States themselves, the Congress on February 21, 1787, resolved it to be expedient that "on the second Monday in May next, a Convention of Delegates, who shall have been appointed by the several States, be held at Philadelphia, for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation, and reporting to Congress and the several Legislatures, such alterations and provisions therein, as shall, when agreed to in Congress, and confirmed by the States, render the federal Constitution adequate to the exigencies of Government, and the preservation of the Union." In pursuance of this resolution the delegates of twelve of the States met in convention in the month of May and adjourned on September 17, 1787, having drafted a constitution for a more perfect Union of the United States which, ratified by the thirteen original States in the course of the ensuing three years, today controls the conduct of forty-eight States and . . .