In 1776, the
Thirteen Colonies, acting through the
Second Continental Congress, declared political independence from
Great Britain during the
American Revolution. The new states, though independent of each other as
 recognized the necessity of closely coordinating their efforts against the British.
 Desiring to avoid anything that remotely resembled a
monarchy, Congress negotiated the
Articles of Confederation to establish a weak alliance between the states.
 As a central authority, Congress under the Articles was without any legislative power; it could make its own resolutions, determinations, and regulations, but not any laws, nor any taxes or local commercial regulations enforceable upon citizens.
 This institutional design reflected the conception of how Americans believed the deposed British system of
Parliament ought to have functioned with respect to the royal
dominion: a superintending body for matters that concerned the entire empire.
 Out from under any monarchy, the states assigned some formerly
royal prerogatives (e.g., making war, receiving ambassadors, etc.) to Congress, while severally lodging the rest within their own respective state governments. Only after all the states agreed to a resolution settling competing western land claims did the Articles take effect on March 1, 1781, when
Maryland became the final state to ratify them.
In 1783, the
Treaty of Paris secured independence for each of the former colonies. With peace at hand, the states each turned toward their own internal affairs.
 By 1786, Americans found their continental borders besieged and weak, their respective economies in crises as neighboring states agitated trade rivalries with one another, witnessed their
hard currency pouring into foreign markets to pay for imports, their
Mediterranean commerce preyed upon by
pirates, and their foreign-financed Revolutionary War debts unpaid and accruing interest.
 Civil and political unrest loomed.
Following the successful resolution of commercial and fishing disputes between
Virginia and Maryland at the
Mount Vernon Conference in 1785, Virginia called for a trade conference between all the states, set for September 1786 in
Annapolis, Maryland, with an aim toward resolving further-reaching interstate commercial antagonisms. When the
convention failed for lack of attendance due to suspicions among most of the other states,
Alexander Hamilton led the Annapolis delegates in a call for a convention to offer revisions to the Articles, to be held the next spring in
Philadelphia. Prospects for the next convention appeared bleak until
James Madison and
Edmund Randolph succeeded in securing
George Washington's attendance to Philadelphia as a delegate for Virginia.
Constitutional Convention convened in May 1787, the 12 state delegations in attendance (
Rhode Island did not send delegates) brought with them an accumulated experience over a diverse set of institutional arrangements between legislative and executive branches from within their respective state governments. Most states maintained a weak executive without veto or appointment powers, elected annually by the legislature to a single term only, sharing power with an executive council, and countered by a strong legislature.
New York offered the greatest exception, having a strong, unitary governor with veto and appointment power elected to a three-year term, and eligible for reelection to an indefinite number of terms thereafter.
 It was through the closed-door negotiations at Philadelphia that the presidency framed in the
U.S. Constitution emerged.