9

The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union were the agreement among the thirteen United States of America to unite under a federal government consisting of a Continental Congress. They were proposed in 1777 and effective upon ratification by all thirteen states in 1781. They remained in effect until superseded by the Constitution of the United States in 1788.

The ninth Article of Confederation establishes federal judicial jurisdiction in some cases, including

"disputes and differences now subsisting or that hereafter may arise between two or more States concerning boundary, jurisdiction or any other causes whatever"

and

"All controversies concerning the private right of soil claimed under different grants of two or more States"

and some others. It provides that whenever a case is filed with the Continental Congress, a temporary federal court will be appointed to hear the case.

Is there an account of the history of federal courts under the Articles of Confederation?

  • 1
    "Records" to me implies primary/original sources, while "an account of the history" implies secondary/analytical ones. Is the question intended to be either/or? – Brian Z May 30 at 11:05
  • @BrianZ : Or both. – Michael Hardy May 31 at 17:10
4

Question:
Are there records of federal courts under the Articles of Confederation?

Answer

Yes. Evidently such cases are still tracked.

Looking specifically for Piracy Court Cases from, March 1, 1781 - March 4, 1789 the dates the Articles of Confederation was ratified and when governance under the United States Constitution was begun.

Here is one case, I found several cases, articles, and blog posts searching for: United States, "piracy court" 1781-1789, or ship seizures in that time....

  • The United States Supreme Court Records - THE RESOLUTION, 2 U.S. 1 (1781) Miller et. al. Libellants and Appellants v. The Ship Resolution, and Ingersoll, Claimant and Appellee. Federal Court of Appeals, August Session, 1781

Details

Technically there was no "judicial branch" under the articles of confederation. No executive branch either. Only a single chambered legislature.

Judicial Learning Center
The national government under the Articles of Confederation consisted of a single legislative body, called the Congress of the United States. The national government had limited powers under the Articles of Confederation. For example, the central government could not levy taxes or regulate commerce. Additionally, there was not an executive or judicial branch of government under the Articles.

This narrows down our search. We are looking specifically for issues dealing with Piracy and seizures of vessels between the dates March 1, 1781 - March 4, 1789 when the Articles of Confederation were in effect.

Articles of Confederation Article 9.
..... appointing courts for the trial of piracies and felonies committed on the high seas; and establishing courts for receiving and determining finally appeals in all cases of captures; ........

I found the previously mentioned case records on the Justia site dealing with Federal court records.

  • The United States Supreme Court Records - THE RESOLUTION, 2 U.S. 1 (1781) Miller et. al. Libellants and Appellants v. The Ship Resolution, and Ingersoll, Claimant and Appellee. Federal Court of Appeals, August Session, 1781

There were also a number of other sites, records and articles which came up.

  • Were there any cases in which the parties were two states, or in which the parties had a dispute arising from conflicting land grants from two or more state? – Michael Hardy May 31 at 20:55

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