• The Articles of Confederation

     |  Articles of Confederation

    The Articles of Confederation The Articles of Confederation Pennsylvanian John Dickinson—who declined to sign the Declaration of Independence because he believed that the states should be organized politically before declaring independence—wrote the first draft of the Articles of Confederation in 1777. Signed into effect that year and ratified in 1781, the Articles provided the structure of government for the states until the Constitution was ratified in 1788. During that period, the Articles' deficiencies became increasingly obvious, and by the time of the Constitutional Convention, few Founders, including Dickinson, defended its continuation. March 1, 1781 To all to whom these Presents shall come, we the undersigned Delegates of the States affixed ...
  • Circular Letter to the States

     |  Articles of Confederation

    Circular Letter to the States Circular Letter to the States 1 George Washington As Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, overseen by a national legislature that struggled to fund the War for Independence, General Washington was as familiar as anyone with the defects of the Articles of Confederation. In this, his last circular letter to the states, which he sent to the thirteen governors, Washington emphasizes the need for unity in the maintenance of the nation's independence. June 8, 1783 Sir: The great object for which I had the honor to hold an appointment in the Service of my Country, being accomplished, I am now preparing to resign it into the hands of Congress, and to return to that domestic retirement, which, it is well known ...
  • Query XIII: Constitution

     |  Articles of Confederation

    Query XIII: Constitution Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XIII: Constitution 1 Thomas Jefferson Virginia, the most populous state, adopted its state constitution in 1776, a month before the Declaration of Independence passed Congress. Jefferson, Virginia's governor from 1779 to 1781, addressed the problems that plagued the state's first attempt at self-government in his 1784 book, Notes on the State of Virginia. 1784 The Constitution of the State and its Several Charters ...This constitution was formed when we were new and unexperienced in the science of government. It was the first, too, which was formed in the whole United States. No wonder then that time and trial have discovered very capital defects in it. 1. The majority of the men in the ...
  • Letter to John Jay

     |  Articles of Confederation

    Letter to John Jay Letter to John Jay 1 George Washington Washington writes here as a private citizen to Jay, who as Secretary of Foreign Affairs under the Articles of Confederation witnessed firsthand the Articles' shortcomings, as each state pursued a different foreign policy. August 15, 1786 Dear Sir: I have to thank you very sincerely for your interesting letter of the twenty-seventh of June, as well as for the other communications you had the goodness to make at the same time. I am sorry to be assured, of what indeed I had little doubt before, that we have been guilty of violating the treaty in some instances. What a misfortune it is the British should have so well grounded a pretext for their palpable infractions? —and what a ...
  • Letter to James Madison

     |  Articles of Confederation

    Letter to James Madison Letter to James Madison 1 George Washington Washington writes here to Madison, two months before the Constitutional Convention was set to start in Philadelphia. A year earlier, only twelve men from five states attended a gathering held in Annapolis, Maryland, to amend the Articles of Confederation. Both men feared the consequences should this convention similarly fail. March 31, 1787 My dear Sir: At the same time that I acknowledge the receipt of your obliging favor of the 21st. Ult. from New York, I promise to avail myself of your indulgence of writing only when it is convenient to me. If this should not occasion a relaxation on your part, I shall become very much your debtor—and possibly like others in similar ...
  • Vices of the Political System of the United States

     |  Articles of Confederation

    Vices of the Political System of the United States Vices of the Political System of the United States 1 James Madison In this essay, Madison outlines the main issues that the Constitutional Convention should address. His early arrival in Philadelphia allowed him to incorporate his ideas into a recommended plan for the Convention—what came to be called the Virginia Plan—representing no mere revision of the Articles of Confederation, but the adoption of an entirely new Constitution. April 1787 1. Failure of the States to comply with the Constitutional requisitions. This evil has been so fully experienced both during the war and since the peace, results so naturally from the number and independent authority of the States and has been so uniformly ...
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