The Articles of Confederation

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Common Sense Government eBook: The Articles of Confederation, Shays’ Rebellion, and the Call for a Constitutional Convention

The Articles of Confederation

Careful readers of the Declaration of Independence will have noticed that there is a fundamental tension evident within the document. The Declaration is titled “The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America,” and in begins with the words, “When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people … (emphasis added). …
The end of the document, however, tells a different tale. There we see the united States (notice the capitalization) referenced. We also find that the colonies “are, and as of right ought to be Free and Independent States.”
So was the United States one country, with a singular people? Or were the United States 13 countries, with thirteen peoples?

  1. Imagine the Articles of Confederation was still the governing document of the “united States.” What would be different?
  2. Much of Europe, today, is governed by a “confederation,” called the European Union. In 2016, the United Kingdom decided to “secede” from the EU. Can you imagine a European “Civil War” in the coming years? How would that come about?

This reading is an excerpt from Certell’s Common Sense Government eBook.  Certell offers curriculum materials and eBooks free of charge for use by students and teachers.  Click here to download the Common Sense Government materials.

Image Citation:

28, Aug. 2018, Articles of Confederation definition [Digital image].  Retrieved from <>.