The nation's first governing body was the Continental Congress, established under the Articles of Confederation that were ratified in 1781. It included representatives from each state and was designed to be weak. Bills of any significance needed a two-thirds vote and changes to the Articles required unanimous consent. The states maintained a high degree of sovereignty: they coined their own money, raised armies, and erected tariff barriers.
Fearful of centralized authority, the former colonists did not create an independent executive branch. The Congress attempted to handle administrative responsibilities through committees and later through departments with appointed superintendents and governing boards.