The Articles of Confederation were the temporary governing documents of the United States during and immediately after the Revolutionary War. They solidified the union between the states and provided some guidelines for the running of the new government. The Articles were in force from their ratification in 1781 to 1789, when they were rendered obsolete by the ratification of the Constitution.
Read the Articles of Confederation online here.
According to the Library of Congress, the Federalist Papers are:
"a series of 85 essays written by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison between October 1787 and May 1788. The essays were published anonymously, under the pen name "Publius," in various New York state newspapers of the time.
"The Federalist Papers were written and published to urge New Yorkers to ratify the proposed United States Constitution, which was drafted in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787. In lobbying for adoption of the Constitution over the existing Articles of Confederation, the essays explain particular provisions of the Constitution in detail. For this reason, and because Hamilton and Madison were each members of the Constitutional Convention, the Federalist Papers are often used today to help interpret the intentions of those drafting the Constitution." - from About the Federalist Papers
Read the Federalist Papers online here.
About the Constitutional Convention
The Constitutional Convention was held from May to September, 1787, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Convention's purpose was to redraft the Articles of Confederation in order to balance the powers of the states with those of the central federal government. For a detailed history of the Convention, see the U.S. State Department's page here.
Transcripts and Study Resources
Contemporary writings include documents that are not "officially" part of the records of the Constitutional Convention but are still very important, such as newspaper articles, personal letters, and state government documents.