The 13 former colonies originally bound themselves together under the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. More briefly referred to as the Articles of Confederation, this agreement was adopted in the Continental Congress in 1777 and ratified by the states on March 1, 1781.
The Articles created a confederacy of independent states, a "firm league of friendship" for common defense and protection of liberties. Congress, the central government, was limited solely to the powers enumerated in the Articles, such as coining money, making treaties and settling disputes. There was no congressional authority to tax or regulate trade between the states. The limitations in the Articles became apparent quickly, and the Constitutional Convention of 1787 led to a broader federal government.