The American colonies fought for independence from Great Britain during the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783). After winning their freedom, the former colonies needed to create a new system of government. The first system created was known as the Articles of Confederation and was adopted on November 15, 1777; they were finally ratified, or officially approved, by the last of the 13 American states, Maryland, in 1781 and became the ruling document of the new nation.

The Articles of Confederation represented the first example of a shared system of government made between the 13 former colonies that were now free American states. The powers of the individual states and the Continental Congress needed to be defined for the new country; there was a need for unity among the new states that were created as a result of the American Revolution. This need led Congress to give the task of drafting a Federal constitution to John Dickinson, a politician who was active in Pennsylvania and Delaware.

This Federal constitution was called the Articles of Confederation and was submitted to the Second Continental Congress on July 12, 1776. Several revisions were made, and the document was adopted by the Congress on November 15, 1777. In its final form, the Articles of Confederation consisted of a preamble and 13 articles. The document kept the feature of voting by states, but taxes were based on the value of buildings and land and not by a state’s population. The Articles also specified that no state would lose territory for the benefit of the country and that all 13 states had to agree to any changes of the Federal Government’s power.