1777 — Articles of Confederation adopted
After 16 months of debate, the Continental Congress, sitting in its temporary capital of York, Pennsylvania, agrees to adopt the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union on this day in 1777. Not until March 1, 1781, would the last of the 13 states, Maryland, ratify the agreement.
In 1777, Patriot leaders, stinging from British oppression, were reluctant to establish any form of government that might infringe on the right of individual states to govern their own affairs. The Articles of Confederation, then, provided for only a loose federation of American states. Congress was a single house, with each state having one vote, and a president elected to chair the assembly. Although Congress did not have the right to levy taxes, it did have authority over foreign affairs and could regulate a national army and declare war and peace. Amendments to the Articles required approval from all 13 states. On March 2, 1781, following final ratification by the 13th state, the Articles of Confederation became the law of the land.
Less than five years after the ratification of the Articles of Confederation, enough leading Americans decided that the system was inadequate to the task of governance that they peacefully overthrew their second government in just over 20 years. The difference between a collection of sovereign states forming a confederation and a federal government created by a sovereign people lay at the heart of debate as the new American people decided what form their new government would take.
In 1787, an extra-legal body met in seclusion during Philadelphia's summer heat to create this new government. On March 4, 1789, the modern United States was established when the U.S. Constitution formally replaced the Articles of Confederation.
1864 — Sherman's March to the Sea begins
On this day in 1864, Union General William T. Sherman begins his expedition across Georgia by torching the industrial section of Atlanta and pulling away from his supply lines. For the next six weeks, Sherman's army destroyed most of the state before capturing the Confederate seaport of Savannah, Georgia.
Sherman captured Atlanta in early September 1864 after a long summer campaign. He recognized his vulnerability in the city, however, as his supply lines stretched all the way from Nashville, Tennessee. Confederate raiders such as Nathan Bedford Forrest threatened to cut his lines, and Sherman had to commit thousands of troops to protect the railroads and rivers that carried provisions for his massive army. Sherman split his army, keeping 60,000 men and sending the rest back to Nashville with General George Thomas to deal with the remnants of Confederate General John Bell Hood's Army of Tennessee, the force Sherman had defeated to take Atlanta.
After hearing that President Abraham Lincoln had won re-election on November 8, Sherman ordered 2,500 light wagons loaded with supplies. Doctors checked each soldier for illness or injuries, and those who were deemed unfit were sent to Nashville. Sherman wrote to his general in chief, Ulysses S. Grant, that if he could march through Georgia it would be "proof positive that the North can prevail." He told Grant that he would not send couriers back, but to "trust the Richmond papers to keep you well advised." Sherman loaded the surplus supplies on trains and shipped them back to Nashville. On November 15, the army began to move, burning the industrial section of Atlanta before leaving.
1889 — Brazil's last emperor deposed
After a 49-year reign, Pedro II, the second and last emperor of Brazil, is deposed in a military coup.
The Brazilian monarchy was established in 1822, when Portugal's crown prince, Dom Pedro, defied his Parliament and proclaimed an independent Brazil under his rule. The Brazilian empire got off to a rough start, however, and in 1831 Emperor Pedro I abdicated in favor of his five-year-old son and returned to Portugal.
Pedro II was crowned emperor in 1841 and proved to be a much more capable leader than his father. During his five-decade reign, Brazil enjoyed unprecedented stability, as its troubled economy stabilized and began to grow. However, he later alienated certain sectors in society, such as the military and the growing urban middle class. After being deposed in 1889, Pedro II went to Europe, where he died in exile two years later.
— This Day in History is courtesy of History.com.