From 1775 to 1781 the Second Continental Congress governed without a constitution and with a make-shift organization. The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union were agreed to by the Congress in 1777 but not finally ratified by the states until 1781. Even before this constitution went into effect there was a considerable amount of dissatisfaction with its principles, and that feeling developed rapidly after 1781. The weakness of the central government, state jealousies of each other and of the federal government, intensified by the period of economic unrest which followed the Revolution, resulted in an increasing desire for a stronger political system. During the next few years many private letters and a number of pamphlets, notably those of Peletiah and Noah Webster, show how widespread was the belief that stability, prosperity, and the respect of other nations could be secured only by radical changes in the Articles of Confederation.
At the suggestion of Madison the Virginia legislature proposed an interstate convention at Annapolis in September, 1786, to adopt a uniform system of commercial regulations. Delegates from five states appeared. Hamilton persuaded his colleagues to propose a convention of all the states to consider the broader problem of securing a more adequate central government. Several states proceeded to appoint delegates to such a convention, and, in February, 1787, the Congress issued a call for a convention, its function to be that of revising the Articles of Confederation in such a way as to