An association of sovereign states.

Citing the failures of the Articles of Confederation, among these being the lack of Congress’ power to collect taxes from the States; a lack of authority in commerce, both foreign and interstate, resulting in policies harmful to U.S. trade and harm to the national economy; absolute lack of power to force states to comply with laws passed by Congress; and their being virtually impossible to amend, requiring unanimity of the states, James Madison describes the need for a new system of government in his Preface to the Notes:

“As natural consequences of this distracted and disheartening condition of the union, the Fedl Authy had ceased to be respected abroad, and dispositions shown there, particularly in G. B., to take advantage of its imbecility, and to speculate on its approaching downfall; at home it had lost all confidence & credit; the unstable and unjust career of the States had also forfeited the respect & confidence essential to order and good Govt, involving the general decay and confidence & credit between man & man. It was found moreover, that those least partial to popular Govt, or most distrustful of its efficacy were yielding to anticipations, that from an increase of the confusion a Govt might result more congenial with their taste or their opinions; whilst those most devoted to the principles and forms of Republics, were alarmed for the cause of liberty itself, at stake in the American Experiment, and anxious for a system that wd avoid the inefficacy of a mere confederacy without passing into the opposite extreme of a consolidated govt it was known that there were individuals who had betrayed a bias toward Monarchy [see Knox to G W & him to Jay] and there had always been some not unfavorable to a partition of the Union into several Confederacies; either from a better chance of figuring on a Sectional Theatre, or that the Sections would require stronger Govts, or by their hostile conflicts lead to a monarchical consolidation. The idea of a dismemberment had recently made its appearance in the Newspapers.

Such were the defects, the deformities, the diseases and the ominous prospects, for which the Convention were to provide a remedy, and which ought never to be overlooked in expounding & appreciating the Constitutional Charter the remedy that was provided.”

Annotated by Jen on September 05, 2013