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230th Anniversary: A Timeline

Articles of Confederation

November 15, 1777

The first plan of government formally tying the colonies together, it was introduced during the war for independence but not adopted by the states until 1781.

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Virginia General Assembly Commission for Delegates to Annapolis Convention

January 21, 1786

Virginia selects delegates to send to Annapolis to consider the deficiencies of the Articles of Confederation.

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Letter to Elbridge Gerry

April 30, 1786

Rufus King laments the problems of governing under the Articles.

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Proposed Amendments to the Articles of Confederation

August 7, 1786

A committee of Congress recommends amendments to the Articles in order to “render the federal government adequate to the ends for which it was instituted.”

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Virginia General Assembly Commissioning Delegates to the Philadelphia Convention

December 1, 1786

Virginia commissions and empowers delegates to attend a convention, to take place in 1787 in Philadelphia, to address the problems with the Articles.

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Letter to George Washington

January 7, 1787

John Jay seeks to convince George Washington that a convention to amend the Articles is necessary.

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Vices of the Political System of the United States

April 15, 1787

James Madison lists and describes some of what he sees as the greatest problems in American government as of early 1787.

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Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787

August 30, 1787

Excerpts from James Madison’s notes taken during the Convention of 1787.

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Constitution of the United States

September 17, 1787

The Constitution as signed on 17 September 1787.

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Letter to Congress Recommending the Constitution

September 17, 1787

The signers of the Constitution formally recommend their work to the Congress.

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James Wilson’s State House Speech

October 6, 1787

A respected leader provides a powerful endorsement of the Constitution to the representatives of an essential state.

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Federalist No. 1

October 27, 1787

Hamilton’s introduction to the Federalist effort, framing the importance of the public debate to come.

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Federalist No. 10

November 22, 1787

“Among the numerous advantages promised by a well constructed union, none deserves to be more accurately developed, than its tendency to break and control the violence of faction.”

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Federalist No. 39

January 16, 1788

“The Conformity Of The Plan To Republican Principles”

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Federalist No. 51

February 6, 1788

“To what expedient then shall we finally resort, for maintaining in practice the necessary partition of power among the several departments, as laid down in the constitution?”

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Dates of Ratification by State

June 21, 1788

A table of dates.

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State-by-State Ratification

May 29, 1790

Detailed records of the debates and votes in each state, 1787-1790.

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