Legal Definition of Confederacy, Confederation

An agreement between two or more states or nations by which they unite for their mutual protection and good.2 min read


An agreement between two or more states or nations by which they unite for their mutual protection and good. This term is applied to such agreement between two independent nations, but it is also used to signify the union of different states of the same nation, as in the confederacy of the states.

In 1781, the original thirteen states adopted for their federal government the 'Articles of confederation and perpetual union between the States,' which continued in force until the present Constitution of the United States went into full operation when president Washington was sworn into office on April 30, 1789.

Crim. Law. An agreement between two or more persons to do an unlawful act, or an act which though not unlawful in itself, becomes so by the confederacy. The technical term usually employed to signify this offence is conspiracy.

Equity Pleading. The fourth part of a bill in chancery usually charges a confederacy; this is either general or special.

The first is by alleging a general charge of confederacy between the defendants and other persons to injure or defraud the plaintiff. The common form of the charge is that the defendants, combining and confederating together, to and with diverse other persons as yet to the plaintiff unknown, but whose names, when discovered, he prays may be inserted in the bill and they be made parties thereto, with proper and apt words to charge them with the premises, in order to injure and oppress the plaintiff in the premises, do absolutely refuse, etc.

When it is intended to rely on a confederacy or combination as a ground of equitable jurisdiction, the confederacy must be specially charged to justify an assumption of jurisdiction. A general allegation of confederacy is now considered as mere form.


The name given to that form of government which the American colonies, on shaking off the British yoke, devised for their mutual safety and government.

The Articles Of Confederation, were finally adopted on November 15, 1777, and with the exception of Maryland, which afterwards also agreed to them, were speedily adopted by the United States, and by which they were formed into a federal body going into force on the March 1, 1781, and so remained until the adoption of the present Constitution, which acquired the force of the supreme law of the land on March 1, 1789.

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