Constitution Week: A turning point in our history

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Articles of Confederation was the document that organized a ěperpetual Unionî among the 13 states that had declared independence from Great Britain. The Articles of Confederation was the first constitution of the United States. During 1776-1777, a congressional committee led by John Dickinson of Pennsylvania wrote the Articles and submitted them to the states for ratification in 1777.
The Articles of Confederation reflected the new nationís fear of centralized power and authority. Under the Articles the states were more powerful than the central government, which consisted of only a Congress.
Advocates of reform exchanged correspondence to muster support for a convention to revise the Articles, laying the foundation for interstate conferences and conventions seeking similar goals. Critics of the Articles multiplied until finally, on Feb. 21, 1787, the Confederation congress adopted a resolution authorizing the convention but limited its mandate to revision of the Articles.
The Constitutional convention was the result of a campaign to reform the first charter of government of the United States, the Articles of Confederation. However, the convention discarded the Articles and framed an entirely new constitution, largely the work of James Madison.
Throughout the 1780s, politicians who thought in national terms worried that the Confederation faced problems its government was too weak to solve. The resolutions of the new constitution proposed the creation of a supreme national government with separate legislative, executive and judicial branches.
Although the Articles remained in force until the new U.S. Constitution took effect in 1788, many provisions of the first national constitution had enduring constitutional effects. The fundamental law of the United States, drafted in Philadelphia in 1787, ratified in 1788, and put into effect in 1789, established a strong central government in place of the Articles of Confederation. The Constitution is a document that embodies the fundamental laws and principles by which the U.S. is governed. It was drafted by the Constitutional Convention and later supplemented by the Bill of Rights and other amendments. On March 4, 1789, the new Constitution took effect, superseding the Articles of Confederation.

Submitted by the Elizabeth Maxwell Steele Chapter of the DAR. The chapter encourages everyone to take time during Constitution Week to reflect on our heritage of freedom.