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fore, on the same day that the committee was appointed to draft the Declaration of Independence, another was selected, with Samuel Adams as its chairman, "to prepare and digest the form of a confederation to be entered into between these colonies." This committee made its report on July 12, 1776, but it was not until November, 1777, that a form of government was agreed upon. Further delay was occasioned by the examination of the proposed plan by the state governments, and it was not until July 9, 1778, that the Articles of Confederation were formally adopted. Then they were signed by the delegates of eight States-New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia and South Carolina. The North Carolina delegates signed on the 21st, and three days later, those from Georgia. New Jersey ratified November 26, 1778; Delaware, May 5, 1779; and Maryland, March 1, 1781.
Land Claims Delay Ratification.-The cause of the delay on the part of New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland grew out of a state of affairs which became of the greatest moment to the future history of government in the United States. Along the western frontier of the States lay great tracts of unoccupied lands. On the separation of the colonies from England, the States whose charters had extended their territory indefinitely west claimed, as the successor of the British Crown, the sovereignty of these vacant lands as far as the Mississippi River. Against these claims Maryland in particular vigorously protested, refusing to enter the Confederacy unless the sovereignty over these lands was made general, and de
claring that if independence was secured it would be by the efforts of all the States, and, therefore, this territory should become the common property of the Confederacy.
New York's Action.-Affairs were in this condition when New York, in September, 1780, ceded to the Confederacy all its claims to the lands lying westward of its present boundary. Induced by the sacrifice of New York, and fearing that England would be encouraged by the apparent dissensions among the States, the Maryland Legislature ratified the Articles in January, 1781, and in the same month Virginia ceded to the Confederacy all her claims to any part of the lands which are known as "The North-West Territory." The formal act of subscribing to the Articles by the Maryland delegates in Congress occurred March 1, 1781, and the following day the Congress assembled under the Confederation.
DATES OF PRINCIPAL EVENTS RELATING TO ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION.
1776 June 11, Committee appointed on Plan of Government. July 12, First Report of Committee.
Aug. 20, Second Report of Committee.
1777 Nov. 17, Circular Letter sent to States.
1778 July 9, Articles of Confederation signed by New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia and South Carolina.
July 21, Articles signed by North Carolina.
OUTLINE OF THE ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION.
1. Form and Purposes of the Union.-The form of the union was a confederacy, in which each State retained its sovereignty and every power not expressly delegated to the United States. The purposes of the Union were the common defense, the security of liberty and mutual and general welfare.
2. The System of Government Established. All the functions of government were to be exercised by a Congress of delegates, each State being represented by not more than seven or less than two (delegates) appointed annually; but in the proceedings of the Congress each State could cast only one vote, regardless of the number of its delegates. There was no provision for executive and judicial branches apart from the legislative.
During a recess of Congress, which could not exceed six months, "The Committee of the States," consisting of one delegate from each State, was empowered to exercise certain of the powers of Congress, but no power which required the assent of nine States could be so exercised.
3. The Powers of the Government. The most important legislative powers were to declare war, appropriate money, borrow money and issue bills of credit, agree on
the number of land forces and make requisition upon each State for its proportion, determine the number of naval forces, and build and equip a navy. These powers could only be exercised by the assent of nine States. Besides the foregoing, the Congress, by a majority of the States, could make peace, establish rules concerning captures on land and sea, regulate coinage, fix a standard of weights and measures, make rules for the government of the army and navy, ascertain the money necessary for public expenses and apportion among the States the amounts which they must pay into the common treasury.
The most important executive powers of Congress were to appoint a commander-in-chief of the army and to enter into treaties with foreign nations, provided no treaty of commerce should interfere with the right of each State to fix duties and imposts; and to exercise these powers the assent of nine States was required. Congress could also, by a majority of the States, send and receive ambassadors, establish post-offices and exact postage, appoint civil officers and officers of the army and navy except regimental officers, direct the operations of the army and navy, and organize and conduct the common treasury of the Confederacy.
The powers of the Congress relating to judicial matters were limited to the establishment of courts for the trial of piracy and felonies committed upon the high seas and to the determination of questions of boundary and jurisdiction between two or more States.
4. Restrictions upon the Government.-Besides the limitation of the government to those powers conferred upon it by the Articles, Congress was prohibited from granting
any titles of nobility, and its officers were forbidden to receive a reward, office or title from a foreign ruler or state.
5. The Restrictions upon and Requirements of the States. -Without the consent of the United States no State could send or receive ambassadors or enter into any agreement or treaty with a foreign state, lay any imposts or duties which would interfere with any treaty previously made by the United States, have land or naval forces in time of peace, engage in war unless actually invaded or to prevent an Indian outbreak, and grant letters of marque and reprisal except after a declaration of war by the United States or when a State was infested by pirates.
Each State was required to grant to the people of every other State the same privileges as those possessed by its own, to surrender fugitives from justice upon proper requisition, to give full faith and credit to the records, acts and judicial proceedings of the other States, to levy and collect the taxes apportioned to it by the Congress for the purposes of the union and pay the same into the common treasury.
6. Other Provisions.-The Articles also provided for the admission of Canada into the Union, pledged the public faith to the payment of money borrowed and debts contracted by the revolutionary government, declared that the union so formed should be perpetual and that the Articles could only be amended by an agreement of the Congress and the confirmation of the amendment by the legislature of every State.