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A union of states in which each member state retains some independent control over internal and external affairs. Thus, for international purposes, there are separate states, not just one state. A federation, in contrast, is a union of states in which external affairs are controlled by a unified, central government.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

CONFEDERATION, government. 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.
     2. The articles of confederation, (q.v.) were finally adopted on the 15th of November, 1777, and with the exception of Maryland, which, however, afterwards also agreed to them, were speedily adopted by the United States, and by which they were formed into a federal @bod y, and went into force on the first day of March, 1781; 1 Story Const. Sec. 225; and so remained until the adoption of the present constitution, which acquired the force of the supreme law of the land on the first Wednesday of March, 1789. 5 Wheat. R. 420. Vide Articles of Confederation.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
5) The second best scenarios for Belgium are economically confederative, without transfer payments, which are automatic and structural.
Far from being a centralized political entity, the Sasanians owed their continuity to an undeclared confederative structure with Parthian families.
Omirou said that EDEK's withdrawal came after its own proposals had not been listened to, and the "Turkish side's recent unacceptable confederative proposals essentially and openly muddy the waters for a solution", and the "negative results" of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon's recent visit "proved we were right".

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