Articles of Confederation History
United States Articles of Confederation
Articles of Confederation
What were the Articles of Confederation
The Articles of Confederation served as the written document
that established the functions of the national government of the United States after it declared independence from Great Britain.
It established a weak central government that mostly, but not entirely, prevented the individual states from conducting their
own foreign diplomacy. The Articles of Confederation were adopted by the Continental Congress on November 15, 1777, and served
as the nation's first constitution from 1781 to 1789, when the present-day Constitution went into effect.
The Continental Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation,
the first constitution of the United States, on November 15, 1777. However, ratification of the Articles of Confederation
by all thirteen states did not occur until March 1, 1781. The Articles created a loose confederation of sovereign states and
a weak central government, leaving most of the power with the state governments. The need for a stronger Federal government
soon became apparent and eventually led to the Constitutional Convention in 1787. The present United States Constitution replaced the Articles of Confederation on March 4, 1789, when the first Federal Congress met in New York.
|Articles of Confederation
|Articles of Confederation
Articles of Confederation:
During the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783), the American colonies
fought for independence from Great Britain. After winning their freedom, the former colonies needed to create a new system
of government. The powers of the individual states and the Continental Congress needed to be defined for the new country;
there was a need for unity among the new states that were created as a result of the American Revolution. This need led Congress
to give the task of drafting a Federal constitution to John Dickinson, a politician active in Pennsylvania and Delaware. The
Articles of Confederation, formally the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, represented
the first example of a constitutional agreement or shared system of government made between the 13 former colonies that were
now free American states.
The Articles of Confedertion were created on November 15, 1777,
ratified on March 1, 1781, and in effect until September 13, 1788.
The Articles of Confederation
were submitted to the Second Continental Congress on July 12, 1776. After several revisions were made, the document
was adopted by the Congress on November 15, 1777. The Articles of Confederation were finally ratified, or officially approved,
by the last of the 13 American states, Maryland, in 1781, and became the ruling document of the new nation. In its final form,
the Articles of Confederation were composed of a preamble and 13 articles. The document maintained the feature of voting by
states, but taxes were based on the value of buildings and land and not by a state’s population. The Articles also specified
that no state could be deprived of territory for the benefit of the country and that all 13 states had to agree to any amendment
of the Federal government’s power.
To all to whom these Presents shall come, we the undersigned Delegates of
the States affixed to our Names send greeting.
Articles of Confederation and perpetual Union between the states of New Hampshire,
Massachusetts-bay Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland,
Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.
The Stile of this Confederacy shall be
"The United States of America".
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.
The said States hereby severally enter into a firm league of friendship with
each other, for their common defense, 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 whatever.
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 free ingress and regress to and from any other 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 restrictions 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 his offense.
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.
For the most convenient management of the general interests of the United
States, delegates shall be annually appointed in such manner as the legislatures 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 recall 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 more 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 any kind.
Each State shall maintain its own delegates in a meeting of the States, and
while they act as members of the committee of the States.
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 or imprisonments,
during the time of their going to and from, and attendance on Congress, except for treason, felony, or breach of the peace.
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 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 and Spain.
No vessel 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 defense 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 defense of such
State; but every State shall always keep up a well-regulated and disciplined militia, sufficiently armed and accoutered, and
shall provide and constantly have ready for use, in public stores, a due number of filed 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 not to 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 otherwise.
When land forces are raised by any State for the common defense, all officers
of or 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
All charges of war, and all other expenses that shall be incurred for the
common defense 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
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 Congress assembled.
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 appropriated -- 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 causes 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
favor, affection or hope of reward': provided also, that no State shall be deprived of territory for the benefit of the United
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 different
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 standards 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 through the same as may be requisite to defray the expenses 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 members 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 expenses
-- 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 solid-like manner, at the expense 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 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 each State, unless the legislature of such State shall judge
that such extra number cannot be safely spread out in 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 or 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 expenses necessary for the defense 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 adjourning from day
to day be determined, unless by the votes of the 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 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.
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 the
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
assembled be requisite.
Canada acceding to this confederation, and adjoining 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.
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 pledged.
Every State shall abide by the determination 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 America.
Agreed to by Congress 15 November 1777. In force after ratification by Maryland,
1 March 1781.
Sources: National Archives and
Records Administration; Documents Illustrative of the Formation of the Union of the American States. Government Printing Office, 1927. House Document No. 398.
Selected, Arranged and Indexed by Charles C. Tansill; Yale Law School, The Avalon Project; Library of Congress.
The Articles of Confederation: An Interpretation of the Social-Constitutional History of the American
Revolution, 1774-1781 (Paperback). Review: I don't suppose one in ten Americans realize there was a first constitution
of the United States before there was "the" Constitution of the United States. Merrill Jensen is the definitive historian
of that period - up to 1789 when the present Constitution took effect - and this book is one of several of his covering the
topic. Reading of this period would do much to remind Americans
that the debate over the nature of American government has been going on since 1776. The debate concerns "weak" central government
(the Articles of Confederation) vs. "strong" central government (the Constitution). The Federalists (favoring the Constitution)
won politically, but their victory did not settle the argument. Continued below...
presidential or congressional election campaign brings out the same themes sounded 200 years ago as the Constitution faced
ratification. In any event, Jensen does much to rehabilitate the history of the Confederation, clarify the agruments, and
takes care to note the remarkable accomplishments of the Confederation congress. His writing style is very accessible and
the book is a quick read.
Recommended Viewing: Founding Fathers
(A&E) (200 minutes). Description: The four programs from the History Channel in this set profile America's
Founding Fathers, noting right at the outset they were a "mismatched group of quarrelsome aristocrats, merchants, and lawyers."
The story of how these disparate characters fomented rebellion in the colonies, formed the Continental Congress, fought the
Revolutionary War, and wrote the Constitution is told by noted historians, and the production is enhanced with beautifully
photographed reenactments as well as intelligent use of period paintings and engravings. The story begins with Samuel Adams
and John Hancock in Boston, whose protests against British
taxation led to the Boston Tea Party. Moving on to the Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia,
the brilliant delegates from the South, particularly George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, appear on the scene, and the
story is told of how an improbable cohesion between the colonies began. Continued below…
characters, including Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, appear in turn, and each of the major participants is portrayed in
a biographical profile. How these men all came to act together, despite the stark differences in their backgrounds and temperaments,
becomes the main thread of the story. They were all quite human, as the historians who appear in interviews remind us. Some
of them drank too much, some had illegitimate children, some owned slaves, and some could hardly get along with anyone. Yet
these men with complicated private lives worked together and performed heroically. This is an intelligently rendered and captivating
look at the men who formed the American nation.
Recommended Reading: The Constitution of
the United States of America, with the
Bill of Rights and all of the Amendments; The Declaration of Independence; and the Articles of Confederation, by Thomas Jefferson (Author), Second Continental Congress (Author), Constitutional Convention
(Author). Description: Collected in one affordable volume are the most important documents of the United States of America: The Constitution of the United States of America, with the Bill of Rights and all of the Amendments; The
Declaration of Independence; and the Articles of Confederation. These three documents are the basis for our entire way of
life. Every citizen should have a copy.
Recommended Reading: The Declaration
of Independence: The Story Behind America's
Founding Document and the Men Who Created It (Hardcover). Description: The fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence, the foundation of America's freedom, created a nation and launched a freedom
movement the world had never seen. Today it seems inevitable that the thirteen colonies would declare their independence from
Britain. And yet in 1776 it was not so.
Here is the extraordinary story of drama and daring, sacrifice and selflessness, danger and potential death. Continued below...
The signers concluded their work with a plea for Providential protection and a selfless vow to sacrifice
"our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor." Many of them did just that to create a country in which "all men are created
equal, . . . endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these, are Life, Liberty,
and the pursuit of happiness." Award-winning historian Rod Gragg brings to life the drama of 1776 like no other book. The
removable artifacts, including a full-size (24-1/4" x 29-1/2") replica of the Declaration of Independence, bring to life the
events of 1776 like no other presentation.
Recommended Reading: 1776, by David McCullough (Simon
& Schuster). Description: Esteemed historian David McCullough covers the military
side of the momentous year of 1776 with characteristic insight and a gripping narrative, adding new scholarship and a fresh
perspective to the beginning of the American Revolution. It was a turbulent and confusing time. As British and American politicians
struggled to reach a compromise, events on the ground escalated until war was inevitable. McCullough writes vividly about
the dismal conditions that troops on both sides had to endure, including an unusually harsh winter, and the role that luck
and the whims of the weather played in helping the colonial forces hold off the world's greatest army. Continued below...
He also effectively
explores the importance of motivation and troop morale--a tie was as good as a win to the Americans, while anything short
of overwhelming victory was disheartening to the British, who expected a swift end to the war. The redcoat retreat from Boston, for example, was
particularly humiliating for the British, while the minor American victory at Trenton
was magnified despite its limited strategic importance. Some of the strongest passages in 1776 are the revealing and well-rounded
portraits of the Georges on both sides of the Atlantic. King George III, so often portrayed
as a bumbling, arrogant fool, is given a more thoughtful treatment by McCullough, who shows that the king considered the colonists
to be petulant subjects without legitimate grievances--an attitude that led him to underestimate the will and capabilities
of the Americans. At times he seems shocked that war was even necessary. The great Washington lives up to his considerable
reputation in these pages, and McCullough relies on private correspondence to balance the man and the myth, revealing how
deeply concerned Washington was about the Americans' chances for victory, despite his public optimism. Perhaps more than any
other man, he realized how fortunate they were to merely survive the year, and he willingly lays the responsibility for their
good fortune in the hands of God rather than his own. Enthralling and superbly written, 1776 is the work of a master historian.
Recommended Viewing: The History Channel Presents The Revolution (A&E) (600 minutes). Review: They came of age in a new world amid intoxicating and innovative
ideas about human and civil rights diverse economic systems and self-government. In a few short years these men and women
would transform themselves into architects of the future through the building of a new nation – “a nation unlike
any before.” From the roots of the rebellion and the signing of the Declaration of Independence to victory on the battlefield
at Yorktown and the adoption of The United States Constitution, THE REVOLUTION tells the
remarkable story of this pivotal era in history. Venturing beyond the conventional list of generals and politicians, THE HISTORY
CHANNEL® introduces the full range of individuals who helped shape this great conflict including some of the war’s most
influential unsung heroes.Continued below...
Through sweeping cinematic recreations intimate biographical investigations
and provocative political military and economic analysis the historic ideas and themes that transformed treasonous acts against
the British into noble acts of courage both on and off the battlefield come to life in this dramatic and captivating program.
This TEN HOUR DVD Features: History in the Making: The Revolution Behind-the-Scenes Featurette; Interactive Menus; Scene Selections.
Reading: Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation. Review: In retrospect, it seems as if
the American Revolution was inevitable. But was it? In Founding Brothers, Joseph J. Ellis reveals that many of those truths
we hold to be self-evident were actually fiercely contested in the early days of the republic. Ellis focuses on six crucial
moments in the life of the new nation, including a secret dinner at which the seat of the nation's capital was determined--in
exchange for support of Hamilton's financial plan; Washington's
precedent-setting Farewell Address; and the Hamilton and Burr duel. Most interesting, perhaps, is the debate (still dividing
scholars today) over the meaning of the Revolution. Continued below...
In a fascinating
chapter on the renewed friendship between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson at the end of their lives, Ellis points out the
fundamental differences between the Republicans, who saw the Revolution as a liberating act and hold the Declaration of Independence
most sacred, and the Federalists, who saw the revolution as a step in the building of American nationhood and hold the Constitution
most dear. Throughout the text, Ellis explains the personal, face-to-face nature of early American politics--and notes that
the members of the revolutionary generation were conscious of the fact that they were establishing precedents on which future
generations would rely. In Founding Brothers, Ellis (whose American Sphinx won the National Book Award for nonfiction in 1997)
has written an elegant and engaging narrative, sure to become a classic. Highly recommended.
Recommended Reading: John Adams, by David McCullough
(Simon & Schuster). From Publishers Weekly: Here a preeminent master of narrative
history takes on the most fascinating of our founders to create a benchmark for all Adams
biographers. With a keen eye for telling detail and a master storyteller's instinct for human interest, McCullough (Truman;
Mornings on Horseback) resurrects the great Federalist (1735-1826), revealing in particular his restrained, sometimes off-putting
disposition, as well as his political guile. The events McCullough recounts are well-known, but with his astute marshaling
of facts, the author surpasses previous biographers in depicting Adams's years at Harvard, his early public life in Boston and his role in the first Continental Congress, where he helped
shape the philosophical basis for the Revolution. McCullough also makes vivid Adams's actions
in the second Congress, during which he was the first to propose George Washington to command the new Continental Army. Continued
Later on, we
see Adams bickering with Tom Paine's plan for government as suggested in Common Sense, helping push through the draft for
the Declaration of Independence penned by his longtime friend and frequent rival, Thomas Jefferson, and serving as commissioner
to France and envoy to the Court of St. James's. The author is likewise brilliant
in portraying Adams's complex relationship with Jefferson, who ousted him from the White
House in 1800 and with whom he would share a remarkable death date 26 years later: July 4, 1826, 50 years to the day after
the signing of the Declaration. (June) Forecast: Joseph Ellis has shown us the Founding Fathers can be bestsellers, and S&S
knows it has a winner: first printing is 350,000 copies, and McCullough will go on a 15-city tour; both Book-of-the-Month
Club and the History Book Club have taken this book as a selection.