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Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union


Agreeable to the Standing Order, the Congress resolved itself into a Committee of the Whole, to take into consideration the state of America, when Doctor B˙ Franklin submitted to their consideration the following sketch of Articles of Confederation.

Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, proposed by the Delegates of the several Colonies of NEW-HAMPSHIRE, &c˙, in General Congress met at PHILADELPHIA, MAY 10, 1775.

ARTICLE I. The name of this Confederacy shall henceforth be, The United Colonies of North America.

ARTICLE II. The said United Colonies hereby severally enter into a firm league of friendship with each other, binding on themselves and their posterity, for their common defence against their enemies, for the securities of their liberties and properties, the safety of their persons and Families, and their mutual and general welfare.

ARTICLE III. That each Colony shall enjoy and retain as much as it may think fit of its own present laws,


customs, rights, privileges and peculiar jurisdictions within its own limits; and may amend its own Constitution as shall seem best to its own Assembly or Convention.

ARTICLE IV. That for the more convenient management of general interests, Delegates shall be annually elected in each Colony, to meet in General Congress at such time and place as shall be agreed on in the next preceding Congress. Only where particular circumstances do not make a duration necessary, it is understood to be a rule, that each succeeding Congress be held in a different Colony, till the whole number be gone through; and so in perpetual rotation; and that accordingly the next Congress after the present shall be held at Annapolis, in Maryland.

ARTICLE V. That the power and duty of the Congress shall extend to the determining on war and peace; the sending and receiving Ambassadors, and entering into alliances (the reconciliation with Great Britain;) the settling all disputes and differences between Colony and Colony, about limits or any other cause, if such should arise; and the planting of new Colonies when proper. The Congress shall also make such general ordinances as, though necessary to the general welfare, particular Assemblies cannot be competent to, viz: those that may relate to our general commerce, or general currency; the establishment of posts; and the regulation of our common forces. The Congress shall also have the appointment of all General Officers, civil and military, appertaining to the General Confederacy, such as General Treasurer, Secretary, &c.

ARTICLE VI. All charges of wars, and all other general expenses to be incurred for the common welfare, shall be defrayed out of a common treasury, which is to be supplied by each Colony in proportion to its number of male poles between sixteen and sixty years of age. The taxes for paying that proportion are to be laid and levied by the Laws of each Colony.

ARTICLE VII. The number of Delegates to be elected and sent to Congress by each Colony shall be regulated, from time to time, by the number of such polls returned; so as that one Delegate be allowed for every five thousand polls. And the Delegates are to bring with them to every Congress an authenticated return of the number of polls in the respective Provinces, which is to be taken triennially, for the purposes abovementioned.

ARTICLE VIII. At every meeting of the Congress, one half of the Members returned, exclusive of proxies, shall be necessary to make a quorum; and each Delegate at the Congress shall have a vote in all cases, and if necessarily absent, shall be allowed to appoint any other Delegate from the same Colony to be his proxy, who may vote for him.

ARTICLE IX. An Executive Council shall be appointed by the Congress out of their own body, consisting of twelve persons; of whom, in the first appointment, one third, viz: four shall be for one year, four for two years, and four for three years; and as the said terms expire, the vacancies shall be filled by appointments for three years; whereby one third of the Members will be changed annually. This Council, of whom two-thirds shall be a quorum in the recess of Congress, is to execute what shall have been enjoined thereby; to manage the general Continental business and interests; to receive applications from foreign Countries; to prepare matters for the consideration of the Congress; to fill up, pro tempore, Continental Offices that fall vacant; and to draw on the General Treasurer for such moneys as may be necessary for general services, and appropriated by the Congress to such services.

ARTICLE X. No Colony shall engage in an offensive war with any Nation of Indians without the consent of the Congress, or Grand Council abovementioned, who are first to consider the justice and necessity of such war.

ARTICLE XI. A perpetual alliance, offensive and defensive, is to be entered into as soon as may be with the Six Nations; their limits to be ascertained and secured to them; their land not to be encroached on, nor any private or Colony purchases made of them hereafter to be held good; nor any contract for lands to be made, but between the Great Council of the Indians at Onondaga and the General Congress. The boundaries and lands of all the other Indians shall also be ascertained and secured to them in the same manner, and persons appointed to reside among them in proper Districts; and shall take care to prevent injustice


in the trade with them; and be enabled at our general expense, by occasional small supplies, to relieve their personal wants and distresses. And all purchases from them shall be by the Congress, for the general advantage and benefit of the United Colonies.

ARTICLE XII. As all new institutions may have imperfections, which only time and experience can discover, it is agreed that the General Congress, from time to time, shall propose such Amendments of this Constitution as may be found necessary; which being approved by a majority of the Colony Assemblies, shall be equally binding with the rest of the Articles of this Confederation.

ARTICLE XIII. Any and every Colony from Great Britain upon the Continent of North America, not at present engaged in our Association, may, upon application and joining the said Association, be received into the Confederation, viz: Ireland, the West-India Islands, Quebeck, St˙ John' s, Nova-Scotia, Bermudas, and East and West Floridas; and shall thereupon be entitled to all the advantages of our union, mutual assistance, and commerce.

These Articles shall be proposed to the several Provincial Conventions or Assemblies, to be by them considered; and if approved, they are advised to empower their Delegates to agree to and ratify the same in the ensuing Congress. After which the union thereby established is to continue firm, till the terms of reconciliation proposed in the Petition of the last Congress to the King are agreed to; till the Acts since made, restraining the American Commerce and Fisheries, are repealed; till reparation is made for the injury done to Boston, by shutting up its Port; for the burning of Charlestown; and for the expense of this unjust war; and till all the BritishTroops are withdrawn from America. On the arrival of these events, the Colonies will return to their former connexion and friendship with Britain: but on failure thereof, this Confederation is to be perpetual.