Articles of Confederation adopted - HISTORY
Year
1777

Articles of Confederation adopted

After 16 months of debate, the Continental Congress, sitting in its temporary capital of York, Pennsylvania, agrees to adopt the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union on this day in 1777. Not until March 1, 1781, would the last of the 13 states, Maryland, ratify the agreement.

In 1777, Patriot leaders, stinging from British oppression, were reluctant to establish any form of government that might infringe on the right of individual states to govern their own affairs. The Articles of Confederation, then, provided for only a loose federation of American states. Congress was a single house, with each state having one vote, and a president elected to chair the assembly. Although Congress did not have the right to levy taxes, it did have authority over foreign affairs and could regulate a national army and declare war and peace. Amendments to the Articles required approval from all 13 states. On March 2, 1781, following final ratification by the 13th state, the Articles of Confederation became the law of the land.

Less than five years after the ratification of the Articles of Confederation, enough leading Americans decided that the system was inadequate to the task of governance that they peacefully overthrew their second government in just over 20 years. The difference between a collection of sovereign states forming a confederation and a federal government created by a sovereign people lay at the heart of debate as the new American people decided what form their new government would take.

In 1787, an extra-legal body met in seclusion during Philadelphia’s summer heat to create this new government. On March 4, 1789, the modern United States was established when the U.S. Constitution formally replaced the Articles of Confederation.

Between 1776 and 1789, Americans went from living under a sovereign king, to living in sovereign states, to becoming a sovereign people. That transformation defined the American Revolution.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Baby Fae dies

“Baby Fae,” a month-old infant who had received a baboon-heart transplant, dies at Loma Linda University Medical Center in Loma Linda, California. The infant, named Baby Fae by doctors to protect her parents’ anonymity, was born with hypoplastic left-heart syndrome, an almost ...read more

Erwin Rommel is born

Erwin Rommel, the German commander known as the “Desert Fox” for his cunning in North Africa during World War II, is born in Heidenheim, Germany.Rommel’s father and grandfather were teachers, but he chose a military career for himself, enlisting in the German army as an officer ...read more

Brazil’s last emperor deposed

After a 49-year reign, Pedro II, the second and last emperor of Brazil, is deposed in a military coup.The Brazilian monarchy was established in 1822, when Portugal’s crown prince, Dom Pedro, defied his Parliament and proclaimed an independent Brazil under his rule. The Brazilian ...read more

First stock ticker debuts

On this day in 1867, the first stock ticker is unveiled in New York City. The advent of the ticker ultimately revolutionized the stock market by making up-to-the-minute prices available to investors around the country. Prior to this development, information from the New York ...read more

Second moratorium against the war held

Following a symbolic three-day “March Against Death,” the second national “moratorium” opens with mass demonstrations in San Francisco and Washington, D.C.Organized by the New Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam (“New Mobe”), an estimated 500,000 demonstrators ...read more

Craig Breedlove sets new land-speed record

On November 15, 1965 at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, 28-year-old Californian Craig Breedlove sets a new land-speed record–600.601 miles an hour–in his car, the Spirit of America, which cost $250,000 and was powered by a surplus engine from a Navy jet. He actually drove ...read more

President Carter hosts shah of Iran

On this day in 1977, President Jimmy Carter welcomes Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the shah of Iran, and his wife, Empress (or “Shahbanou”) Farrah, to Washington. Over the next two days, Carter and Pahlavi discussed improving relations between the two countries. Two years later, the two ...read more

Zebulon Pike spots an imposing mountain

Approaching the Colorado foothills of the Rocky Mountains during his second exploratory expedition, Lieutenant Zebulon Pike spots a distant mountain peak that looks “like a small blue cloud.” The mountain was later named Pike’s Peak in his honor.Pike’s explorations of the newly ...read more

Elvis makes movie debut in Love Me Tender

On this day in 1956, Love Me Tender, featuring the singer Elvis Presley in his big-screen debut, premieres in New York City at the Paramount Theater. Set in Texas following the American Civil War, the film, which co-starred Richard Egan and Debra Paget, featured Elvis as Clint ...read more

Plane crashes into Sri Lankan plantation

A plane carrying Muslim pilgrims from Mecca to Indonesia crashes in Sri Lanka on this day in 1978, killing 183 people.The Icelandic Airlines DC-8 was chartered by Garuda Indonesian Airways to carry Muslim pilgrims back to Indonesia from their trek to Mecca. The flight was ...read more

The March to the Sea begins

On this day in 1864, Union General William T. Sherman begins his expedition across Georgia by torching the industrial section of Atlanta and pulling away from his supply lines. For the next six weeks, Sherman’s army destroyed most ofthe statebefore capturing the Confederate ...read more

Craig Breedlove sets new land-speed record

On November 15, 1965 at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, 28-year-old Californian Craig Breedlove sets a new land-speed record—600.601 miles per hour—in his car, the Spirit of America, which cost $250,000 and is powered by a surplus engine from a Navy jet. He actually drove ...read more