ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION
MARCH 1, 1781
To all to whom these Presents shall come, we the under signed
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 15th 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 Newhampshire, Massachusetts-bay, Rhodeisland 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 Newhampshire,
Massachusetts-bay, Rhodeisland and Providence Plantations,
Connecticut, New-York, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware,
Maryland, Virginia, North-Carolina, South-Carolina, and Georgia."
- Article I.
- The Stile of this confederacy shall be "The
United States of America."
- Article II.
- Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and
independence, and every Power, Jurisdiction and right, which is
not by this confederation expressly delegated to the United
States, in Congress assembled.
- Article III.
- The said states hereby severally enter into a
firm league of friendship with each other, for their common
defence, the security of their Liberties, and their mutual and
general welfare, binding themselves to assist each other, against
all force offered to, or attacks made upon them, or any of them,
on account of religion, sovereignty, trade, or any other pretense
- Article IV.
- The better to secure and perpetuate mutual
friendship and intercourse among the people of the different
states in this union, the free inhabitants of each of these
states, paupers, vagabonds, and fugitives from justice excepted,
shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of free
citizens in the several states; and the people of each state
shall have free ingress and regress to and from any state, and
shall enjoy therein all the privileges of trade and commerce,
subject to the same duties, impositions and restrictions as the
inhabitants thereof respectively, provided that such restriction
shall not extend so far as to prevent the removal of property
imported into any state, to any other state, of which the Owner
is an inhabitant; provided also that no imposition, duties or
restriction shall be laid by any state, on the property of the
united states, or either of them.
If any Person guilty of, or charged with treason, felony, or
other high misdemeanor in any state, shall flee from Justice, and
be found in any of the united states, he shall, upon demand of
the Governor or executive power, of the state from which he fled,
be delivered up and removed to the state having jurisdiction of
Full faith and credit shall be given in each of these states
to the records, acts and judicial proceedings of the courts and
magistrates of every other state.
- Article V.
- For the more convenient management of the general
interests of the united states, delegates shall be annually
appointed in such manner as the legislature of each state shall
direct, to meet in Congress on the first Monday in November, in
every year, with a power reserved to each state, to recal its
delegates, or any of them, at any time within the year, and to
send others in their stead, for the remainder of the Year.
No state shall be represented in Congress by less than two,
nor by ore than seven Members; and no person shall be capable of
being a delegate for more than three years in any term of six
years; nor shall any person, being a delegate, be capable of
holding any office under the united states, for which he, or
another for his benefit receives any salary, fees or emolument of
Each state shall maintain its own delegates in a meeting of
the states, and while they act as members of the committee of the
In determining questions in the united states in Congress
assembled, each state shall have one vote.
Freedom of speech and debate in Congress shall not be
impeached or questioned in any Court, or place out of Congress,
and the members of congress shall be protected in their persons
from arrests and imprisonments, during the time of their going to
and from, and attendance on congress, except for treason, felony,
or breach of the peace.
- Article VI.
- 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 of any present, emolument,
office or title of any kind whatever from any king, prince or
foreign state; nor shall the united states in congress assembled,
or any of them, grant any title of nobility.
No two or more states shall enter into any treaty,
confederation or alliance whatever between them, without the
consent of the united states in congress assembled, specifying
accurately the purposes for which the same is to be entered into,
and how long it shall continue.
No state shall lay any imposts or duties, which may interfere
with any stipulations in treaties, entered into by the united
states in congress assembled, with any king, prince or state, in
pursuance of any treaties already proposed by congress, to the
courts of France or Spain.
No vessels of war shall be kept up in time of peace by any
state, except such number only, as shall be deemed necessary by
the united states in congress assembled, for the defence of such
state, or its trade; nor shall any body of forces be kept up by
any state, in time of peace, except such number only, as in the
judgement of the united states, in congress assembled, shall be
deemed requisite to garrison the forts necessary for the defence
of such state; but every state shall always keep up a well
regulated and disciplined militia, sufficiently armed and
accoutred, and shall provide and constantly have ready for use,
in public stores, a due number of field pieces and tents, and a
proper quantity of arms, ammunition and camp equipage.
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, or shall have received certain
advice of a resolution being formed by some nation of Indians to
invade such state, and the danger is so imminent as to not admit
of a delay till the united states in congress assembled can be
consulted: nor shall any state grant commissions to any ships or
vessels of war, nor letters of marque or reprisal, except it be
after a declaration of war by the united states in congress
assembled, and then only against the kingdom or state and the
subjects thereof, against which war has been so declared, and
under such regulations as shall be established by the united
states in congress assembled, unless such state be infested by
pirates, in which case vessels of war may be fitted out for that
occasion, and kept so long as the danger shall continue, or until
the united states in congress assembled, shall determine
- Article VII.
- When land-forces are raised by any state for
the common defence, all officers of and under the rank of
colonel, shall be appointed by the legislature of each state
respectively, by whom such forces shall be raised, or in such
manner as such state shall direct, and all vacancies shall be
filled up by the State which first made the appointment.
- Article VIII.
- All charges of war, and all other expences
that shall be incurred for the common defence or general welfare,
and allowed by the united states in congress assembled, shall be
defrayed out of a common treasury, which shall be supplied by the
several states in proportion to the value of all land within each
state, granted to or surveyed for any Person, as such land and
the buildings and improvements thereon shall be estimated
according to such mode as the united states in congress
assembled, shall from time to time direct and appoint.
The taxes for paying that proportion shall be laid and levied
by the authority and direction of the legislatures of the several
states within the time agreed upon by the united states in
- Article IX.
- The united states in congress assembled, shall
have the sole and exclusive right and power of determining on
peace and war, except in the cases mentioned in the sixth
article--of sending and receiving ambassadors--entering into
treaties and alliances, provided that no treaty of commerce shall
be made whereby the legislative power of the respective states
shall be restrained from imposing such imposts and duties on
foreigners as their own people are subjected to, or from
prohibiting the exportation or importation of any species of
goods or commodities, whatsoever--of establishing rules for
deciding in all cases, what captures on land or water shall be
legal, and in what manner prizes taken by land or naval forces in
the service of the united states shall be divided or
apporpriated--of granting letters of marque and reprisal in times
of peace--appointing courts for the trial of piracies and
felonies committed on the high seas and establishing courts for
receiving and determining finally appeals in all cases of
captures, provided that no member of congress shall be appointed
a judge of any of the said courts.
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 concerning
boundary, jurisdiction or any other cause whatever; which
authority shall always be exercised in the manner following.
Whenever the legislative or executive authority or lawful agent
of any state in controversy with another shall present a petition
to congress stating the matter in question and praying for a
hearing, notice thereof shall be given by order of congress to
the legislative or executive authority of the other state in
controversy, and a day assigned for the appearance of the parties
by their lawful agents, who shall then be directed to appoint by
joint consent, commissioners or judges to constitute a court for
hearing and determining the matter in question: but if they
cannot agree, congress shall name three persons out of each of
the united states, and from the list of such persons each party
shall alternately strike out one, the petitioners beginning,
until the number shall be reduced to thirteen; and from that
number not less than seven, nor more than nine names as congress
shall direct, shall in the presence of congress be drawn out by
lot, and the persons whose names shall be so drawn or any five of
them, shall be commissioners or judges, to hear and finally
determine the controversy, so always as a major part of the
judges who shall hear the cause shall agree in the determination:
and if either party shall neglect to attend at the day appointed,
without showing reasons, which congress shall judge sufficient,
or being present shall refuse to strike, the congress shall
proceed to nominate three persons out of each state, and the
secretary of congress shall strike in behalf of such party absent
or refusing; and the judgement and sentence of the court to be
appointed, in the manner before prescribed, shall be final and
conclusive; and if any of the parties shall refuse to submit to
the authority of such court, or to appear or defend their claim
or cause, the court shall nevertheless proceed to pronounce
sentence, or judgement, which shall in like manner be final and
decisive, the judgement or sentence and other proceedings being
in either case transmitted to congress, and lodged among the acts
of congress for the security of the parties concerned: provided
that every commissioner, before he sits in judgement, shall take
an oath to be administered by one of the judges of the supreme or
superior court of the state, where the cause shall be tried,
"well and truly to hear and determine the matter in question,
according to the best of his judgement, without favour, affection
or hope of reward:" provided also, that no state shall be
deprived of territory for the benefit of the united states.
All controversies concerning the private right of soil claimed
under different grants of two or more states, whose jurisdictions
as they may respect such lands, and the states which passed such
grants are adjusted, the said grants or either of them being at
the same time claimed to have originated antecedent to such
settlement of jurisdiction, shall on the petition of either party
to the congress of the united states, be finally determined as
near as may be in the same manner as is before prescribed for
deciding disputes respecting territorial jurisdiction between
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 standard of weights and measures
throughout the united states--regulating the trade and managing
all affairs with the Indians, not members of any of the states,
provided that the legislative right of any state within its own
limits be not infringed or violated--establishing or regulating
post-offices from one state to another, throughout all the united
states, and exacting such postage on the papers passing thro' the
same as may be requisite to defray the expences of the said
office--appointing all officers of the land forces, in the
service of the united states, excepting regimental officers--
appointing all the officers of the naval forces, and
commissioning all officers whatever in the service of the united
states--making rules for the government and regulation of the
said land and naval forces, and directing their operations.
The united states in congress assembled shall have authority
to appoint a committee, to sit in the recess of congress, to be
denominated "A Committee of the States," and to consist of one
delegate from each state; and to appoint such other committees
and civil officers as may be necessary for managing the general
affairs of the united states under their direction--to appoint
one of their number to preside, provided that no person be
allowed to serve in the office of president more than one year in
any term of three years; to ascertain the necessary sums of money
to be raised for the service of the united states, and to
appropriate and apply the same for defraying the public
expences--to borrow money, or emit bills on the credit of the
united states, transmitting every half year to the respective
states an account of the sums of money so borrowed or emitted,--
to build and equip a navy--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 in such state;
which requisition shall be binding, and thereupon the legislature
of each state shall appoint the regimental officers, raise the
men and cloath, arm and equip them in a soldier like manner, at
the expence of the united states; and the officers and men so
cloathed, armed and equipped shall march to the place appointed,
and within the time agreed on by the united states in congress
assembled: But if the united states in congress assembled shall,
on consideration of circumstances judge proper that any state
should not raise men, or should raise a smaller number than its
quota, and that any other state should raise a greater number of
men than the quota thereof, such extra number shall be raised,
officered, cloathed, armed and equipped in the same manner as the
quota of such state, unless the legislature of such state shall
judge that such extra number cannot be safely spared out of the
same, in which case they shall raise officer, cloath, arm and
equip as many of such extra number as they judge can be safely
spared. And the officers and men so cloathed, armed and
equipped, shall march to the place appointed, and within the time
agreed on by the united states in congress assembled.
The united states in congress assembled shall never engage in
a war, nor grant letters of marque and reprisal in time of peace,
nor enter into any treaties or alliances, nor coin money, nor
regulate the value thereof, nor ascertain the sums and expences
necessary for the defence and welfare of the united states, or
any of them, nor emit bills, nor borrow money on the credit of
the united states, nor appropriate money, nor agree upon the
number of vessels of war, to be built or purchased, or the number
of land or sea forces to be raised, nor appoint a commander in
chief of the army or navy, unless nine states assent to the same:
nor shall a question on any other point, except for adjuorning
from day to day be determined, unless by the votes of a majority
of the united states in congress assembled.
The congress of the united states shall have power to adjourn
to any time within the year, and to any place within the united
states, so that no period of adjournment be for a longer duration
than the space of six Months, and shall publish the Journal of
their proceedings monthly, except such parts thereof relating to
treaties, alliances or military operations, as in their judgement
require secrecy; and the yeas and nays of the delegates of each
state on any question shall be entered on the Journal, when it is
desired by any delegate; and the delegates of a state, or any of
them, at his or their request shall be furnished with a
transcript of the said Journal, except such parts as are above
excepted, to lay before the legislatures of the several states.
- Article X.
- 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 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 is requisite.
- Article XI.
- Canada acceding to this confederation, and
joining in the measures of the united states, shall be admitted
into, and entitled to all the advantages of this union: but no
other colony shall be admitted into the same, unless such
admission be agreed to by nine states.
- Article XII.
- All bills of credit emitted, monies borrowed
and debts contracted by, or under the authority of congress,
before the assembling of the united states, in pursuance of the
present confederation, shall be deemed and considered as a charge
against the united states, for payment and satisfaction whereof
the said united states, and the public faith are hereby solemnly
- Article XIII.
- Every state shall abide by the determinations
of the united states in congress assembled, on all questions
which by this confederation are submitted to them. 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.
And Whereas it hath pleased the Great Governor of the World 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. Know Ye that
we the undersigned delegates, by virtue of the power and
authority to us given for that purpose, do by these presents, in
the name and in behalf of our respective constituents, fully and
entirely ratify and confirm each and every of the said articles
of confederation and perpetual union, and all and singular the
matters and things therein contained: And we do further solemnly
plight and engage the faith of our respective constituents, that
they shall abide by the determinations of the united states in
congress assembled, on all questions, which by the said
confederation are submitted to them. 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 one Thousand seven Hundred and
Seventy-eight, and in the third year of the independence of
Josiah Bartlett, On the part & behalf of
John Wentworth, junr the State of New Hampshire.
August 8th, 1778,
John Hancock, On the part and behalf of
Samuel Adams, the State of Massachusetts Bay.
William Ellery, On the part and behalf of
Henry Marchant, the State of Rhode-Island
John Collins, and Providence Plantations.
Roger Sherman, On the part and behalf of
Samuel Huntington, the State of Connecticut.
Jas Duane, On the part and behalf of
Fra: Lewis, the State of New York.
Jno Witherspoon, On the Part and in Behalf of
Nathl Scudder, the State of New Jersey,
November 26th, 1778.
Robert Morris, On the part and behalf of
Daniel Roberdeau, the State of Pennsylvania.
Jon. Bayard Smith,
22d July, 1778,
Thos McKean, On the part & behalf of
Feby 22d, 1779, the State of Delaware.
May 5th, 1779,
Nicholas Van Dyke,
John Hanson, On the part and behalf of
March 1, 1781, the State of Maryland.
Daniel Carroll, do
Richard Henry Lee, On the Part and Behalf of
John Banister, the State of Virginia.
Francis Lightfoot Lee,
John Penn, On the part and behalf of
July 21st, 1778, the State of North Carolina.
Henry Laurens, On the part and on behalf of
William Henry Drayton, the State of South Carolina.
Thos Heyward, junr.
Jno Walton, On the part and behalf of
24th July, 1778, the State of Georgia.
[DOCUMENTS ILLUSTRATIVE OF THE FORMATION OF THE UNION OF THE
AMERICAN STATES. G.P.O. (1927)]