What are the Articles of Confederation?

1 Answer
Dec 3, 2015

The Articles of Confederation were an agreement among the original 13 states that gave structure to the government until the U.S. Constitution replaced them in 1789.


After the United States declared their independence from Great Britain in 1776, they needed to agree on a new system under which they could operate and collaborate on thing like:

  • the war for independence
  • international diplomacy
  • disputes with Native Americans

It helps to understand the Articles of Confederation if you think of the 13 states as 13 individual countries, all agreeing to try to cooperate in certain ways. This sufficed during the war for independence, in which a common enemy helped to unify the states. But after the war was won, some argued that the Articles of Confederation were too weak and that if they remained as the governing principles, any loyalty among the states would eventually evaporate and America would become a continent of numerous small countries (like Europe).

This led some founding fathers (namely Hamilton, Madison, Jay, and Washington, among others) to support a stronger central government, which was ultimately realized in the U.S. Constitution that replaced the Articles.