Our First Constitution
To all to whom these Presents shall come, we, the undersigned Delegates of the States affixed to our Names send greeting. Whereas the Delegates of the United States of America in Congress assembled did on the fifteenth day of November in the year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy seven, and in the Second Year of the Independence of America agree to certain articles of Confederation and perpetual Union between the States of New Hampshire, Massachusetts-bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia in the Words following, viz. “Articles of Confederation and perpetual Union between the States of New Hampshire, Massachusetts-bay, Rhode island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia."
- The Style of this Confederacy shall be "The United States of America".
- Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence.
- The said States hereby severally enter into a firm league of friendship with each other
- The free inhabitants of each of these States shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of free citizens in the several States; and shall enjoy therein all the privileges of trade and commerce.
- Delegates shall be annually appointed in such manner as the legislatures of each State shall direct with a power reserved to each State to recall its delegates. Each State shall have one vote.
- No State, without the consent of the United States in Congress assembled, shall send any embassy to, or receive any embassy from, or enter into any conference, agreement, alliance or treaty with any King, Prince or State; Nor shall any person holding any office of profit or trust under the United States, or any of them, accept any present, emolument, office or title of any kind whatever from any King, Prince or foreign State, [Like the original 13th Amendment]; Every State shall always keep up a well-regulated and disciplined militia (like the second Amendment); No State shall engage in any war without the consent of the United States in Congress assembled, unless such State be actually invaded by enemies.
- When land forces are raised by any State for the common defense, all officers of or under the rank of colonel, shall be appointed by the legislature of each State respectively.
- All charges of war, and all other expenses that shall be incurred for the common defense or general welfare, and allowed by the United States in Congress assembled, shall be defrayed out of a common treasury. The taxes for paying that proportion shall be laid and levied by the authority and direction of the legislatures of the several States.
- The United States in Congress assembled, shall have the sole and exclusive right and power of determining on peace and war. The United States in Congress assembled shall also be the last resort on appeal in all disputes and differences now subsisting or that hereafter may arise between two or more States. The United States in Congress assembled shall also have the sole and exclusive right and power of regulating the alloy and value of coin struck by their own authority, or by that of the respective States -- fixing the standards of weights and measures throughout the United States; to agree upon the number of land forces, and to make requisitions from each State for its quota, in proportion to the number of white inhabitants (can you say no blacks allowed?) in such State; The United States in Congress assembled shall never appoint a commander in chief of the army or navy, unless nine (of thirteen) States assent to the same:
- The Committee of the States, or any nine of them, shall be authorized to execute, in the recess of Congress, such of the powers of Congress as the United States in Congress assembled, by the consent of the nine States, shall from time to time think expedient to vest them with; provided that no power be delegated to the said Committee, for the exercise of which, by the Articles of Confederation, the voice of nine States in the Congress of the United States assembled be requisite.
- Canada shall be admitted into and entitled to all the advantages of this Union;
- All bills of credit emitted, monies borrowed, and debts contracted by, or under the authority of Congress, are hereby solemnly pledged.
- Every State shall abide by the determination of the United States in Congress assembled; And the Articles of this Confederation shall be inviolably observed by every State, and the Union shall be perpetual; nor shall any alteration at any time hereafter be made in any of them; unless such alteration be agreed to in a Congress of the United States, and be afterwards confirmed by the legislatures of every State. (This clause is the origin of our current Amendment process).
And Whereas, it hath pleased the Great Governor of the World (God?) to incline the hearts of the legislatures we respectively represent in Congress, to approve of, and to authorize us to ratify the said Articles of Confederation and perpetual Union.
And that the Articles thereof shall be inviolably observed by the States we respectively represent, and that the Union shall be perpetual.
In Witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands in Congress.
Done at Philadelphia in the State of Pennsylvania the ninth day of July in the Year of our Lord, (1778), One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy-Eight, and in the Third Year of the independence of America.
(Finalized by the Continental Congress, 15 November 1777)
(In force after ratification by Maryland, 1 March 1781)
If you look at this closely you can see some of the reasons they tried to improve upon these articles. They were not perfect enough, eh? Or were they?
You decide. Comments?