The Articles of Confederation is an important document in American history because it united the individual states and established the federal government. It defined the law of the United States from 1781 until the ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1789.
After declaring independence from Great Britain in 1776, the former British colonies existed as sovereign states working cooperatively for the common goal of defeating Great Britain. In 1777, the Continental Congress wrote the document that defined the rights and responsibilities of each state as well as the collective group so all parties felt comfortable participating in the war effort. The document set in place the precedent that made the U.S. Constitution possible when the states saw the benefit of unity and wanted more specifically defined roles.