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Articles of Confederation vs. Declaration of Independence: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on February 8, 2024
The Articles of Confederation established a weak federal government for the USA, while the Declaration of Independence proclaimed independence from Britain and outlined basic human rights.

Key Differences

The Articles of Confederation, adopted in 1781, served as the first constitution of the United States, establishing a confederation of sovereign states. The Declaration of Independence, proclaimed in 1776, was a formal statement declaring the Thirteen Colonies' independence from British rule.
The Articles of Confederation outlined the structure of the national government, emphasizing state sovereignty and limiting federal power. In contrast, the Declaration of Independence detailed grievances against King George III and articulated the colonies' right to self-governance and independence.
The Articles of Confederation were developed during the Revolutionary War to coordinate the efforts of the colonies against Britain. The Declaration of Independence was created as a revolutionary document that catalyzed the American Revolution and set forth the philosophical underpinnings of American democracy.
The Articles of Confederation's legacy lies in its role as a stepping stone to the more robust U.S. Constitution, highlighting the need for a stronger federal government. The Declaration of Independence is celebrated for its enduring principles of liberty and human rights, forming the ideological foundation of the United States.
The Articles of Confederation were drafted by a committee led by John Dickinson and were ratified by the 13 states over several years. The Declaration of Independence was principally authored by Thomas Jefferson and unanimously adopted by the Continental Congress.

Comparison Chart


To establish a confederation of sovereign states
To declare independence from Britain

Key Content

Structure and powers of the national government
Grievances against Britain, principles of liberty

Historical Significance

First constitution of the USA, a basis for federalism
Catalyst for the American Revolution


Highlighted the need for a stronger federal government
Ideological foundation of American democracy

Ratification and Authors

Drafted by John Dickinson, ratified by states from 1777-1781
Authored by Thomas Jefferson, adopted in 1776

Articles of Confederation and Declaration of Independence Definitions

Articles of Confederation

The ratification process required unanimous consent from all thirteen states.
Maryland was the last state to ratify the Articles of Confederation.

Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence proclaimed the colonies' separation from Britain.
The Declaration of Independence was a bold statement against British rule.

Articles of Confederation

The document outlined the powers and limitations of the federal government.
The Articles of Confederation created a national Congress with limited authority.

Declaration of Independence

It articulated fundamental principles of liberty and human rights.
The Declaration of Independence emphasized the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Articles of Confederation

They established a framework for a confederation of states.
The Articles of Confederation allowed states to cooperate on mutual interests.

Declaration of Independence

Authored primarily by Thomas Jefferson.
Thomas Jefferson's eloquence is evident in the Declaration of Independence.

Articles of Confederation

The Articles of Confederation served as the first constitution of the United States.
Under the Articles of Confederation, each state retained significant independence.

Declaration of Independence

The document served as a catalyst for the American Revolution.
The Declaration of Independence inspired colonists to fight for their freedom.

Articles of Confederation

They acted as a stepping stone to the current U.S. Constitution.
The weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation led to the Constitutional Convention.

Declaration of Independence

A historic milestone in American history.
The Declaration of Independence is celebrated every year on July 4th.


What were the Articles of Confederation?

The first constitution of the United States, establishing a union of states.

Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?

Primarily authored by Thomas Jefferson.

What is the Declaration of Independence?

A document declaring the American colonies' independence from Britain.

When were the Articles of Confederation ratified?

Ratified in 1781.

What day is the Declaration of Independence celebrated?

July 4th.

How did the Declaration of Independence impact the world?

It inspired other countries towards democracy and independence.

What powers did Congress have under the Articles of Confederation?

Limited powers, mostly related to war and foreign policy.

Did the Articles of Confederation have a president?

No, there was no executive branch.

How many colonies signed the Declaration of Independence?

All thirteen colonies.

What was the main weakness of the Articles of Confederation?

It provided limited power to the central government.

Why were the Articles of Confederation replaced?

Due to their inability to provide a strong federal government.

What was King George III's reaction to the Declaration of Independence?

He rejected it and continued military actions against the colonies.

What are the key principles in the Declaration of Independence?

Liberty, equality, and the pursuit of happiness.

How did the states interact under the Articles of Confederation?

They operated independently with a weak central government.

Were the Articles of Confederation successful?

They were seen as too weak, leading to the creation of the U.S. Constitution.

What role did France play after the Declaration of Independence?

France became an ally to the American colonies.

What event did the Declaration of Independence lead to?

The American Revolution.

How were disputes between states handled under the Articles of Confederation?

There was no strong judicial system to handle disputes.

Was there a Bill of Rights in the Articles of Confederation?

No, the Bill of Rights came later with the Constitution.

Is the Declaration of Independence legally binding?

It's more symbolic and foundational than legally binding.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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