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Congress of the Confederation
|3 years in 6 year period|
|Established||March 1, 1781|
|Disbanded||March 3, 1789|
|Preceded by||Continental Congress|
|Succeeded by||United States Congress|
|Committees||Committee of the States|
|Committees||Committee of the Whole|
Length of term
|Pennsylvania State House|
(present-day Independence Hall),
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (first)
City Hall (present-day Federal Hall)
New York, New York (last)
|Articles of Confederation|
|Though there were about 50 members of the Congress at any given time, each state delegation voted en bloc, with each state having a single vote.|
|This article is part of a series on the|
| United States|
|1st Continental Congress|
|2nd Continental Congress|
|Congress of the Confederation|
The Congress of the Confederation, or the Confederation Congress, formally referred to as the United States in Congress Assembled, was the governing body of the United States of America during the Confederation period, March 1, 1781 – March 4, 1789. A unicameral body with legislative and executive function, it was composed of delegates appointed by the legislatures of the several states. Each state delegation had one vote. It was preceded by the Second Continental Congress (1775–1781) and was created by the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union in 1781.
The Congress continued to refer itself as the Continental Congress throughout its eight-year history, although modern historians separate it from the two earlier congresses, which operated under slightly different rules and procedures until the later part of American Revolutionary War.The membership of the Second Continental Congress automatically carried over to the Congress of the Confederation when the latter was created by the ratification of the Articles of Confederation, and had the same secretary as the Second Continental Congress, Charles Thomson.
The Congress of the Confederation was succeeded by the Congress of the United States as provided for in the new United States Constitution, proposed September 17, 1787, in Philadelphia and adopted by the United States in 1788.
On March 1, 1781, the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union were signed by delegates of Maryland at a meeting of the Second Continental Congress, which then declared the Articles ratified. As historian Edmund Burnett wrote, "There was no new organization of any kind, not even the election of a new President." The Congress still called itself the Continental Congress. Nevertheless, despite its being generally the same exact governing body, with some changes in membership over the years as delegates came and went individually according to their own personal reasons and upon instructions of their state governments, some modern historians would later refer to the Continental Congress after the ratification of the Articles as the Congress of the Confederation or the Confederation Congress.
The Congress of the Confederation opened in the last stages of the American Revolution. Combat ended in October 1781, with the surrender of the British after the Siege and Battle of Yorktown. The British, however, continued to occupy New York City, while the American delegates in Paris, named by the Congress, negotiated the terms of peace with Great Britain.Based on preliminary articles with the British negotiators made on November 30, 1782, and approved by the "Congress of the Confederation" on April 15, 1783, the Treaty of Paris was further signed on September 3, 1783, and ratified by the Confederation Congress then sitting at the Maryland State House in Annapolis on January 14, 1784. This formally ended the American Revolutionary War between Great Britain and the thirteen former colonies, which on July 4, 1776, had declared independence. In December 1783, General George Washington, commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, journeyed to Annapolis after saying farewell to his officers (at Fraunces Tavern) and men who had just reoccupied New York City after the departing British Army. On December 23, at the Maryland State House, where the Congress met in the Old Senate Chamber, he addressed the civilian leaders and delegates of Congress and returned to them the signed commission they had voted him back in June 1775, at the beginning of the conflict. With that simple gesture of acknowledging the first civilian power over the military, he took his leave and returned by horseback the next day to his home and family at Mount Vernon near the colonial river port city on the Potomac River at Alexandria in Virginia.
Congress had little power, and without the external threat of a war against the British, it became quite difficult to get enough delegates to meet to form a quorum. Nonetheless, the Congress still managed to pass important laws, most notably the Northwest Ordinance of 1787.
The country incurred a massive debt as a result of the War of Independence. In 1784, the total Confederation debt was nearly $40 million. Of that sum, $8 million was owed to the French and Dutch. Of the domestic debt, government bonds, known as loan-office certificates, composed $11.5 million, certificates on interest indebtedness $3.1 million, and continental certificates $16.7 million.
The certificates were non-interest bearing notes issued for supplies purchased or impressed, and to pay soldiers and officers. To pay the interest and principal of the debt, Congress had twice proposed an amendment to the Articles granting them the power to lay a 5% duty on imports, but amendments to the Articles required the consent of all thirteen states: the 1781 impost plan had been rejected by Rhode Island and Virginia, while the revised plan, discussed in 1783, was rejected by New York.
Without revenue, except for meager voluntary state requisitions, Congress could not even pay the interest on its outstanding debt. Meanwhile, the states regularly failed or refused to meet the requisitions requested of them by Congress.
To that end, in September 1786, after resolving a series of disputes regarding their common border along the Potomac River, delegates of Maryland and Virginia called for a larger assembly to discuss various situations and governing problems to meet at the Maryland state capital on the Chesapeake Bay. The later Annapolis Convention with some additional state representatives joining in the sessions first attempted to look into improving the earlier original Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. There were enough problems to bear further discussion and deliberation that the Convention called for a wider meeting to recommend changes and meet the next year in the late Spring of 1787 in Philadelphia. The Confederation Congress itself endorsed the Call and issued one on its own further inviting the states to send delegates. After meeting in secret all summer in the Old Pennsylvania State House now having acquired the nickname and new title of Independence Hall, from the famous action here eleven years earlier. The Philadelphia Convention, under the presidency of former General George Washington instead of a series of amendments, or altering the old charter, issued a proposed new Constitution for the United States to replace the 1776–1778 Articles. The Confederation Congress received and submitted the new Constitution document to the states, and the Constitution was later ratified by enough states (nine were required) to become operative in June 1788. On September 13, 1788, the Confederation Congress set the date for choosing the new Electors in the Electoral College that was set up for choosing a President as January 7, 1789, the date for the Electors to vote for the President as on February 4, 1789, and the date for the Constitution to become operative as March 4, 1789, when the new Congress of the United States should convene, and that they at a later date set the time and place for the Inauguration of the new first President of the United States.
The Congress of the Confederation continued to conduct business for another month after setting the various dates. On October 10, 1788, Congress formed a quorum for the last time; afterward, although delegates would occasionally appear, there were never enough to officially conduct business. The last meeting of the Continental Congress was held March 2, 1789, two days before the new Constitutional government took over; only one member was present at said meeting, Philip Pell, an ardent Anti-Federalist and opponent of the Constitution, who was accompanied by the Congressional secretary. Pell oversaw the meeting and adjourned the Congress sine die.
The Continental Congress was presided over by a president (referred to in many official records as President of the United States in Congress Assembled ), who was a member of Congress elected by the other delegates to serve as a neutral discussion moderator during meetings. Elected to a non-renewable one-year term, this person also chaired the Committee of the States when Congress was in recess and performed other administrative functions. He was not, however, an executive in the way the later President of the United States is a chief executive since all of the functions he executed were under the direct control of Congress.There were 10 presidents of Congress under the Articles. The first, Samuel Huntington, had been serving as president of the Continental Congress since September 28, 1779.
The Second Continental Congress was meeting at the Old Pennsylvania State House (Independence Hall), in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at the time the Articles of Confederation entered into force on March 1, 1781, but left after an anti-government protest by several hundred soldiers of the Continental Army in June 1783. Congress moved its meeting site successively to Princeton, New Jersey; Annapolis, Maryland; Trenton, New Jersey, and then in January 1785 New York City, which remained the seat of government for several years.
|March 2, 1781 –|
November 3, 1781
|Pennsylvania State House, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania|
|November 5, 1781 –|
November 2, 1782
|Pennsylvania State House, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania|
President: John Hanson
|November 4, 1782 –|
November 1, 1783
|Pennsylvania State House, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania|
(until June 21, 1783)
| Nassau Hall, Princeton, New Jersey |
(from June 30, 1783)
President: Elias Boudinot
|November 3, 1783 –|
June 3, 1784
|Nassau Hall, Princeton, New Jersey|
(until November 4, 1783)
| Maryland State House, Annapolis, Maryland |
(from November 26, 1783)
President: Thomas Mifflin
|November 1, 1784 –|
November 6, 1785
| French Arms Tavern, Trenton, New Jersey |
(until December 24, 1784)
| City Hall, New York, New York |
(from January 11, 1785)
President: Richard Henry Lee (from November 30, 1784)
|November 7, 1785 –|
November 2, 1786
|City Hall, New York, New York|
|November 6, 1786 –|
November 4, 1787
|City Hall, New York, New York|
President: Arthur St. Clair (from February 2, 1787)
|November 5, 1787 –|
October 31, 1788
|City Hall, New York, New York|
(until October 6, 1788)
| Walter Livingston House, New York, New York|
(from October 8, 1788)
President: Cyrus Griffin (from January 22, 1788)
|November 3, 1788 –|
March 3, 1789
|Walter Livingston House, New York, New York|
The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union was an agreement among the 13 original states of the United States of America that served as its first frame of government. It was approved after much debate by the Second Continental Congress on November 15, 1777, and sent to the states for ratification. The Articles of Confederation came into force on March 1, 1781, after ratification by all the states. A guiding principle of the Articles was to establish and preserve the independence and sovereignty of the states. The weak central government established by the Articles received only those powers which the former colonies had recognized as belonging to king and parliament. The document provided clearly written rules for how the states' "league of friendship" would be organized.
John Hanson was an American Founding Father, merchant, and politician from Maryland during the Revolutionary Era. In 1779, Hanson was elected as a delegate to the Continental Congress after serving in a variety of roles for the Patriot cause in Maryland. He signed the Articles of Confederation in 1781 after Maryland joined the other states in ratifying them. In November 1781, he was elected as first President of the Confederation Congress, following ratification of the articles. For this reason, some of Hanson's biographers have argued that he was actually the first holder of the office of President of the United States.
The Continental Congress was a series of legislative bodies, with some executive function, for thirteen of Britain's colonies in North America, and the newly declared United States just before, during, and after the American Revolutionary War. The term "Continental Congress" most specifically refers to the First and Second Congresses of 1774–1781 and, at the time, was also used to refer to the Congress of the Confederation of 1781–1789, which operated as the first national government of the United States until being replaced under the Constitution of the United States. Thus, the term covers the three congressional bodies of the Thirteen Colonies and the new United States that met between 1774 and 1789.
Samuel Huntington was a Founding Father of the United States and a lawyer, jurist, statesman, and Patriot in the American Revolution from Connecticut. As a delegate to the Continental Congress, he signed the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation. He also served as President of the Continental Congress from 1779 to 1781, President of the United States in Congress Assembled in 1781, chief justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court from 1784 to 1785, and the 18th Governor of Connecticut from 1786 until his death. He was the first United States governor to have died while in office.
Between 1776 and 1789 thirteen British colonies emerged as a newly independent nation, the United States of America. Fighting in the American Revolutionary War started between colonial militias and the British Army in 1775. The Second Continental Congress issued the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. The Articles of Confederation were ratified in 1781 to form the Congress of the Confederation. Under the leadership of General George Washington, the Continental Army and Navy defeated the British military, securing the independence of the thirteen colonies. The Confederation period continued until 1789, when the states replaced the Articles of Confederation with the Constitution of the United States, which remains the fundamental governing law of the United States.
The president of the United States in Congress Assembled, known unofficially as the president of the Continental Congress and later as the president of the Congress of the Confederation, was the presiding officer of the Continental Congress, the convention of delegates that emerged as the first (transitional) national government of the United States during the American Revolution. The president was a member of Congress elected by the other delegates to serve as a neutral discussion moderator during meetings of Congress. Designed to be a largely ceremonial position without much influence, the office was unrelated to the later office of President of the United States. Upon the ratification of the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union in March 1781, the Continental Congress became the Congress of the Confederation. The membership of the Second Continental Congress carried over without interruption to the First Congress of the Confederation, as did the office of president.
The Second Continental Congress was a late-18th-century meeting of delegates from the Thirteen Colonies that united in support of the American Revolutionary War. The Congress was creating a new country it first named "United Colonies" and in 1776 renamed "United States of America." It convened in Philadelphia on May 10, 1775, with representatives from 12 of the colonies. This came shortly after the Battles of Lexington and Concord and was in succession to the First Continental Congress which met from September 5 to October 26, 1774. The Second Congress functioned as a de facto national government at the outset of the Revolutionary War by raising armies, directing strategy, appointing diplomats, and writing petitions such as the Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms and the Olive Branch Petition. All thirteen colonies were represented by the time the Congress adopted the Lee Resolution which declared independence from Britain on July 2, 1776, and the congress agreed to the Declaration of Independence two days later.
The United States Constitution has served as the supreme law of the United States since taking effect in 1789. The document was written at the 1787 Philadelphia Convention and was ratified through a series of state conventions held in 1787 and 1788. Since 1789, the Constitution has been amended twenty-seven times; particularly important amendments include the ten amendments of the United States Bill of Rights and the three Reconstruction Amendments.
Daniel Carroll was an American politician and plantation owner from Maryland and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He supported the American Revolution, served in the Confederation Congress, was a delegate to the Philadelphia Convention of 1787 which penned the Constitution of the United States, and was a U.S. Representative in the First Congress. Carroll was one of five men to sign both the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution. He was one of the few Roman Catholics among the Founders.
William Hemsley was an American planter and political leader from Maryland. He represented Maryland in the Continental Congress in 1782 and 1783.
Thomas Sim Lee was an American planter and statesman of Frederick County, Maryland. Although not a signatory to the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation or the U.S. Constitution, he was an important participant in the process of their creation. Thomas Sim Lee was the second State Governor of Maryland, serving twice, from 1779 to 1783 and again from 1792 to 1794. Thomas Sim Lee also served as a delegate of Maryland in the Congress of the Confederation in 1783 and was a member of the House of Delegates in 1787. He worked closely with many of the Founding fathers and himself played an important part in the birth of his state and the nation.
The drafting of the Constitution of the United States began on May 25, 1787, when the Constitutional Convention met for the first time with a quorum at the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to revise the Articles of Confederation. It ended on September 17, 1787, the day the Frame of Government drafted by the convention's delegates to replace the Articles was adopted and signed. The ratification process for the Constitution began that day, and ended when the final state, Rhode Island, ratified it on May 29, 1790.
The Perpetual Union is a feature of the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, which established the United States of America as a political entity. Under modern American constitutional law this means that U.S. states are not permitted to withdraw from the Union.
The Confederation period was the era of United States history in the 1780s after the American Revolution and prior to the ratification of the United States Constitution. In 1781, the United States ratified the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union and prevailed in the Battle of Yorktown, the last major land battle between British and American Continental forces in the American Revolutionary War. American independence was confirmed with the 1783 signing of the Treaty of Paris. The fledgling United States faced several challenges, many of which stemmed from the lack of a strong national government and unified political culture. The period ended in 1789 following the ratification of the United States Constitution, which established a new, more powerful, national government.
The Pennsylvania Mutiny of 1783 was an anti-government protest by nearly 400 soldiers of the Continental Army in June 1783. The mutiny, and the refusal of the Executive Council of Pennsylvania to stop it, ultimately resulted in Congress of the Confederation vacating Philadelphia and the creation of a federal district to serve as the national capital.
Ratification Day in the United States is the anniversary of the congressional proclamation of the ratification of the Treaty of Paris, on January 14, 1784, at the Maryland State House in Annapolis, Maryland, by the Confederation Congress, which marked the official end of the American Revolutionary War.
Events from the year 1783 in the United States. The American Revolution officially ended with the Treaty of Paris.
Events from the year 1788 in the United States.
Then Province of Maryland had been a British / English colony since 1632, when Sir George Calvert, first Baron of Baltimore and Lord Baltimore (1579-1632), received a charter and grant from King Charles I of England and first created a haven for English Roman Catholics in the New World, with his son, Cecilius Calvert (1605-1675), the second Lord Baltimore equipping and sending over the first colonists to the Chesapeake Bay region in March 1634. The first signs of rebellion against the mother country occurred in 1765, when the tax collector Zachariah Hood was injured while landing at the second provincial capital of Annapolis docks, arguably the first violent resistance to British taxation in the colonies. After a decade of bitter argument and internal discord, Maryland declared itself a sovereign state in 1776. The province was one of the Thirteen Colonies of British America to declare independence from Great Britain and joined the others in signing a collective Declaration of Independence that summer in the Second Continental Congress in nearby Philadelphia. Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, and Charles Carroll of Carrollton signed on Maryland's behalf.