The American colonies fought for independence from Great Britain during the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783). The colonies needed to create a new government. The first system was called the Articles of Confederation. It was adopted on November 15, 1777.

State governments had most of the power under the Articles. The central government could not get much done because it had limited powers over states or individuals in America. People needed a stronger central or Federal Government, so leaders from the states got together to decide how to create it. The leaders met at the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and wrote the Constitution of the United States. This document replaced the Articles of Confederation in 1789 and created a stronger central government.

Articles of Confederation facts and figures:

  • The Articles of Confederation called the newly freed colonies “The United States of America.”
  • Official approval of the Articles of Confederation took four years.
  • The Province of Quebec could have joined the United States if they had agreed to the terms of the Articles of Confederation, but they did not.

To learn more, see the 100 Milestone Documents site from the National Archives.