It was 233 years ago this week that our original 13 colonies took a huge step toward nationhood. On Nov. 15, 1777, the Continental Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation. The articles vested the conduct of war and foreign policy in a Federal government, but left everything else to the States.
The Articles of Confederation were modeled after the Swiss Confederation that had been established more than four centuries earlier. On Nov. 15, 1315, the Swiss defeated the powerful Austrian empire in the Battle of Morgarten, when the men of Schwyz (a Swiss canton) lured the Austrians into the mountains and ambushed them in a pass.
The men of Schwyz killed 1,500 Austrian troops, drove hundreds more into Lake Lucerne and put the rest to flight. The country’s inhabitants were so grateful they changed the name of their nation from Helvetia to Switzerland. The country has remained free, independent and faithful to its own Articles of Confederation for nearly 700 years.
Our own Articles of Confederation did not survive nearly as long. Too many Federalists objected to the almost total lack of power the articles gave the central government. Demands for a new Constitutional convention began almost at once.
We know what happened next. Some people still say it was a mistake.