Articles of Confederation: Primary Documents in American History
Ratified on March 1, 1781, the Articles of Confederation served as the United States' first constitution. This guide provides access to digital materials at the Library of Congress, links to related external websites, and a selected print bibliography.
Ken Drexler, Reference Specialist, Researcher and Reference Services Division
Created: December 15, 2018
Last Updated: January 8, 2019
The Continental Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation, the first constitution of the United States, on November 15, 1777. However, ratification of the Articles of Confederation by all thirteen states did not occur until March 1, 1781. The Articles created a loose confederation of sovereign states and a weak central government, leaving most of the power with the state governments. The need for a stronger Federal government soon became apparent and eventually led to the Constitutional Convention in 1787. The present United States Constitution replaced the Articles of Confederation on March 4, 1789.