The Articles of Confederation were the first constitution adopted by the fledgling American government in 1777. The Articles were a document that laid out a governmental structure in which the federal government was relatively weak and the individual state governments had more power, thus laying a basic foundation for the final United States Constitution that is still in effect today. In addition to laying the foundation for the system of government that would be approved by the Founding Fathers of the United States, it was also the first official document to formally announce the name of the new nation: the United States of America.
The Articles of Confederation were commissioned by the Second Continental Congress in 1776 immediately after the Congress appointed a committee to write the Declaration of Independence. Although the Articles of Confederation were adopted by the Second Continental Congress in 1777, it wasn't fully ratified by all 13 colonies until 1781. Under the Articles of Confederation, the U.S. was a formal union of sovereign states, and though the individual states had more power than the federal government under the Articles, the federal government of the U.S. did have powers not granted to the states, such as the ability to negotiate with foreign countries and declare war for the nation.