The confederacy under the Articles of Confederation was a failed attempt at a “co-op” among the 13 colonies that had become sovereign nations by the outcome of the American Revolution. When that failure became obvious, the need for a closer unification and an improved co-op under a new Constitution also became clear.
Each of these nations/states had their own constitution that served as their governing document and which protected the rights of the people from the oppression they had just escaped.
The need for unification resulted in the Constitutional Convention which in turn gave us the U.S Constitution.
The crucial fact to be understood here is that these 13 nation-states were each very jealous of their sovereignty and they never gave it up throughout this entire process. A great portion of the discussions during the Philadelphia Convention was motivated by this jealous concern for the rights of their citizens. They were most anxious that a new co-operative among the states would never be able to overpower them and become a threat to the freedoms they had just paid so dearly to buy.
The sovereignty of the 13 states was patently clear in the fact that each had its own constitution. In fact, it was under the auspices of those constitutions that the U.S. Constitution could be adopted. There was no other way to form the co-op that was needed.
Perhaps the greatest mistake in our history was made when we visualized the new government as an umbrella rather than a platform. As a people, we have almost universally looked to this new federal government as holding the keys to progress, and in so doing have handed the big, ruling club to the government most politically and geographically distant, most intractable and most disdainful of our rights.
The fact is, there are 51constitutions that created 102 legislative bodies that write all the laws. One hundred of those bodies have the authority to write any law their respective constitutions permit. The other two we call “Congress” and it’s legitimate (i.e. constitutional) powers are severely limited but carelessly extended into every nook and cranny of our lives. It is in our pockets, our kitchens, our garages, our bathrooms, and even our bedrooms.
It is time we re-conceptualized the federal government as the co-op formed by the states for their good and returned our primary allegiance to the states that are much closer, much more responsive to our cries, and much easier to control. We could begin by posting the tenth amendment in our kitchens.