When the American Founders declared independence from Britain, they explained that they were doing so because its government was violating their inalienable rights, which include “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” As they organized to fight the British and write the Declaration of Independence, the American colonists formed a confederation of states with some basic agreements called “The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union.” The Articles of Confederation enabled them to cooperate in waging the Revolutionary War and to speak with a single voice when negotiating for weapons and trade with countries like France.
Soon after the war ended, however, many Founders began to argue that the Articles of Confederation were not adequate to secure the rights they had fought to defend. Any law or treaty established under the Articles could be ignored by a state government. Citizens of one state could be treated with unfairly negative bias by courts in another state. States were beginning to tax one another’s products, threatening to undermine American prosperity by hampering free trade.