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Articles of Confederation

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Articles of Confederation

On 12 June 1776, Congress named John Dickinson to chair a committee for drafting a plan of national union. On 12 July, Dickinson transmitted the first US constitution, the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. Congress sent them to the states for ratification on 17 November 1777, but official adoption did not come until 1 March 1781, due to efforts by small states to force the cession of land claims north of the Ohio River.
The articles established a government in which the states kept their sovereignty. National government consisted of a unicameral Congress, but no chief executive and no judicial system. Diplomacy, warfare, and finance were supervised by congressional committees. Major issues required the approval of nine states in Congress, and no tax could be levied without unanimous consent. The Ordinance of 1785 and Northwest Ordinance were the articles' most important accomplishments. The articles functioned poorly after peace came in 1783, and their weaknesses—especially in financial affairs—led to the Constitutional Convention's calling.