Foreign courts needed to have American grievances laid before them persuasively in a "manifesto" which could also reassure them that the Americans would be reliable trading partners.
Without such a declaration, Paine concluded, "[t]he custom of all courts is against us, and will be so, until, by an independence, we take rank with other nations." Beyond improving their existing association, the records of the Second Continental Congress show that the need for a declaration of independence was intimately linked with the demands of international relations.
As the Confederation Congress attempted to govern the continually growing American states, delegates discovered that the limitations placed upon the central government rendered it ineffective at doing so.
As the government's weaknesses became apparent, especially after Shays' Rebellion, some prominent political thinkers in the fledgling nation began asking for changes to the Articles.
It would be two years before the Maryland General Assembly became satisfied that the various states would follow through, and voted to ratify.
During this time, Congress observed the Articles as its de facto frame of government.
It adopted trade restrictions, established and maintained an army, issued fiat money, created a military code and negotiated with foreign governments.
To transform themselves from outlaws into a legitimate nation, the colonists needed international recognition for their cause and foreign allies to support it.
Their hope was to create a stronger national government.
Initially, some states met to deal with their trade and economic problems.