The United States of America, as of 2020, has operated under the same constitution for 231 years. The Constitution of the United States (COTUS), with its familiar House, Senate, and President, has been amended 27 times, litigated thousands of times, and analyzed in hundreds of books, articles, documentaries, and podcasts. American students are required to pass a test on the COTUS in order to graduate high school.
The COTUS, however, is our second constitution, not our first. Before the COTUS, there were the Articles of Confederation. They lasted for just eight years, from 1781 to 1789, not for 231. They have been but little analyzed, seldom litigated, and mostly forgotten. But, they are full of interesting stories. This site seeks to keep their memory alive. Click on the links to enter the world of the Articles of Confederation, the first constitution of the United States.
Why care about the Articles of Confederation? Some introductory thoughts.
How did the Articles work? Confederation basics, how elections took place, and how Congress voted.
How were the Articles created? Learn who wrote the Articles, how they were ratified, and why the process took almost five years.
What did Congress do? The many and surprising accomplishments of the government under the Articles.
Was the government as broke as historians say? Click here to learn about finances under the Articles.
Interesting things about the Articles: The infamous 3/5 clause, the "perpetual" in Perpetual Union, and more.
Ending Government under the Articles: The transition to the COTUS in 1789.
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