The Articles of Confederation, formally the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, was an agreement among all thirteen original states in the United States of America that served as its first constitution. Its drafting by a committee appointed by the Second Continental Congress began on July 12, 1776, and an approved version was sent to the states for ratification in late 1777. The formal ratification by all thirteen states was completed in early 1781. Government under the Articles was superseded by a new constitution and federal form of government in 1789.
Even unratified, the Articles provided a system for the Continental Congress to direct the American Revolutionary War, conduct diplomacy with Europe and deal with territorial issues and Native American relations. Nevertheless, the weakness of the government created by the Articles became a matter of concern for key nationalists. On March 4, 1789, the general government under the Articles was replaced with the federal government under the United States Constitution.
- The Artifact: The document contained a lot of leftovers from the American Revolution, including assumptions Canada would eventually join the Confederation.
- Badass on Paper: The only time the document gave the government any real authority was during a time of war. Otherwise, it was a Paper Tiger.
- The Federation: Was designed to be a very loose one by design, preserving the autonomy of the individual states.
- Gone Horribly Right: It was designed to prevent the tyranny of a strong central government. It did this so well it was toothless to handle any issue the states could not resolve themselves, of which there were many.
- Obvious Beta: It lacked a lot of features that would have made it a better governing document, essentially being the United States Constitution 1.0.
- Zeerust: It was an incredibly dated document barely a few years after its creation since it was written to address conditions at the time instead of being able to handle evolving political and social changes. Part of the reasons the Constitution was written was to avoid this.