Two of the most important decisions made by the United States Continental Congress were the decision to declare the 13 Colonies independent of England and the decision to form a confederation of states. Both decisions resulted in the creation of two of the most well-known and studied documents in U.S. history: the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation, which were, in effect, the first version of the U.S. Constitution. The Articles of Confederation were not fully ratified by all 13 states until more than 3 years after their initial drafting in November of 1777.
The original Articles of Confederation were replaced by the present U.S. Constitution on March 4, 1789. By 1786, although the war with England had been won, the U.S. was bankrupt. The original Articles of Confederation drawn up by the Continental Congress in 1777 no longer served the needs of the new republic. The new government, which was burdened with war debts and back pay owed to soldiers, could no longer rely upon financial contributions from the 13 states. The Continental Congress had no real powers of taxation and could neither regulate currency nor coordinate national defense. The individual states had also begun to engage in repeated economic battles and discriminatory trade practices as they struggled against each other to gain the upper hand.
The need for a stronger federal government had become apparent, and on May 25, 1787, the Continental Congress began the deliberations that ultimately led to what became the U.S. Constitution. After drafting the verbiage for the new constitution, the Continental Congress had its final gathering of delegates on October 10, 1788. The new United States Congress began its first session at Federal Hall in New York City on March 4, 1789.