On this day in 1781, the Articles of Confederation were finally ratified. The Articles were signed by Congress and sent to the individual states for ratification on November 15, 1777, following 16 months of debate. Squabbles over land claims between Maryland and Virginia delayed final ratification for nearly four more years. Maryland finally approved the Articles on March 1, 1781, affirming the Articles as the outline of the official government of the United States. The Articles of Confederation guided the country until the implementation of the current U.S. Constitution in 1789.
Less than five years after the ratification of the Articles of Confederation, many Americans agreed that the system was inadequate to the task of governance, prompting them to peacefully overthrow their second government in just over 20 years. The contrast between a group of sovereign states forming a confederation and a federal government established by a sovereign people stood at the heart of debate as the new American people decided what shape their government would take.
Between 1776 and 1787, Americans went from living under a sovereign king, to living in sovereign states, to becoming a sovereign people.