Thursday, November 15, 2018

Articles of Confederation Approved, 1777

There will be little fanfare but today marks the anniversary of the congressional approval of the new United States government under the Articles of Confederation in 1777. The seat of the government was then in York, Pennsylvania, and that’s where the document was drafted and approved.  It was quickly sent to the thirteen states for ratification, which took place over a little more than three years.

Responding to the concerns over what they considered the tyrannical authority of the King George III, these first framers wanted to craft a government with little national authority and strong state autonomy.  In fact, there wasn’t even national coinage or currency. 

There were some achievements with this form of government, but its decentralized nature doomed it to failure.  After some preliminary discussions at Mount Vernon and Annapolis, a call went out for a constitutional convention in Philadelphia to revise the instrument of government.  Of course, this new assembly completely scrapped the existing framework and drafted the more responsive and enduring Constitution. 

Interestingly, under the Articles, ten men served as head of the government during a seven-year period, presiding over the Congress but also called “President of the United States.”  Thus, our first president was Samuel Huntington of Connecticut.  Alas, as with the Articles of Confederation, President Huntington had little power. 

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