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After the Revolutionary War, the 13 states constituting the new nation were organized under the Articles of Confederation. This “constitution” was in effect from 1781 until the present Constitution was ratified in 1789.

At the time, the states were concerned about a strong central government; they were afraid that their individual needs would be ignored with a national government that had too much power, with the resulting abuses that oftentimes went along with that power. The Articles sought to establish a constitution that provided individual states the largest share of power.

The Articles set up a national legislature that could raise an army and a navy, declare war, borrow and coin money, run a postal system, and handle relations with American Indians. Each state could send two ...

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