After the Ratification of the Declaration of Independence

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After the ratification of the Declaration of Independence, establishing the "united colonies" as Free and Independent States, the Continental Congress set to work on the task of drawing up a document that would provide a legal framework for that Union, and which would be enforceable as the law of the new land.

The Articles were written during the early part of the American Revolution by a committee of the Second Continental Congress of the now independent thirteen sovereign states. The head of the committee, John Dickinson, who had refused to sign the Declaration of Independence, nevertheless adhering to the will of the majority of the members of the Continental Congress, presented a report on the proposed articles to the Congress on July 12, 1776, eight days after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Dickinson initially proposed a strong central government, with control over the western lands, equal representation for the states, and the power to levy taxes.

Because of their experience with Great Britain, the 13 states feared a powerful central government. Consequently, they changed Dickinson's proposed articles drastically before they sent them to all the states for ratification in November 1777. The Continental Congress had been careful to give the states as much independence as possible. The Articles deliberately established a confederation of sovereign states, carefully specifying the limited functions of the federal government. Despite these precautions, several years passed before all the states ratified the articles. The delay resulted from preoccupation with the revolution and from disagreements among the states. These disagreements included quarrels over boundary lines, conflicting decisions by state courts, differing tariff laws, and trade restrictions between states.

The small states wanted equal representation with the large states in Congress, and the large states were afraid they would have to pay an excessive amount of money...
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