Congress of the Confederation

The Occom Circle

Congress of the Confederation

Name (variant)

Honorable Congress


New York City


The Congress of the Confederation is the title of the governing body of the US under the Articles of Confederation, which were approved in 1781 and existed until 1789, when the US Constitution was passed, creating the present-day Congress of the United States. It was the successor to the Second Continental Congress (1775-1781), carrying over the same members and with the same limited powers; the important powers of taxation and policy-making remained with the individual states. Thus, the weak Congress of the Confederation presided over a decade of economic instability, social unrest and class conflict. The sixth Confederation Congress met in New York City from January 11, 1785 to November 4, 1785, which is where David Fowler, a Montaukett Indian and leader of the Brothertown movement, presented a petition to Congress on behalf of the Brothertown Tribe. This petition, which Occom helped to compose, reminds Congress of the Tribe's loyalty, notes the withdrawal of aid from largely British-sponsored religious societies after the War, and requests help in the form of infrastructure for settlement on Oneida lands and education. Although the Confederation Congress had little power, the petition, addressing a sovereign nation, reflects a growing sense of Native collective Native legal and sovereign identity.


Prince, Carl E. "Confederation Congress 1781-1789." Dictionary of American History Rakove, Jack. The Beginnings of National Politics: An Interpretive History of the Continental Congress. New York: Knopf, 1979.