As a permanent structure, the Articles of Confederation did not work. But as a means of transition, a bridge into the future, it served a purpose, and, arguably, succeeded brilliantly. Edmund Morgan, another giant of the field, writes: "If the American Revolution was in any sense a civil war"—which in part it was—"the Confederation did a much faster and better job of reconstruction than the United States did after Appomattox." That is, the American Revolution did not turn on itself, with the victors shattering into warring factions and a government that maintains power only by the exercise of violence against citizens, as has happened so often with other successful rebellions, as in France in the eighteenth century and Russia in the twentieth.
A peaceful outcome was not a given. The Revolutionary generation would have had in mind Montesquieu's warning that the great first hurdle of nationhood was surviving the shift from war to peace.
Thomas E. Ricks, First Principles