How did revolutionary America determine that a nation composed of states was the best model?

It does not appear they were looking at England in determining the best method of political subdivision. What country were they using as a model for how to best organize the US politically and geographically?

They didn’t.

They noticed that they had 13 already independent nation-states. They bound them in union, and over time the Union grew, not just in the number of member-states, but in scope and power.

They simply had no choice in the matter. The colonies were not going to give up their individuality to merge into a single stateless union. They weren’t going to give up anything at all. That’s why they created the Articles of Confederation. It wasn’t until the Articles failed so utterly that they were forced to create a federal structure with powers over the states. There really wasn’t any precedent for them, which is why they didn’t come close to getting it right the first time.

This is correct.

However, it’s also partly true that they were influenced by the the Iroquois and the Greek democracies as well as the Roman Republic. The first two tended to have a strong local component to its democratic processes. The latter did not, exactly, but had a successful integration of local and super-national forces. So the Founding Fathers really did not have a strong reason to change that element.

I’m not sure I’m getting what you’re getting at, but the first thirteen states were of course the Thirteen Colonies. The English (later British) colonies had been established by different groups of people at different times and for different purposes on various parts of the East Coast; although they were all dependencies of the English and then British crowns, each of them had its own government and separate identity. (Attempts to amalgamate them into larger units, like the Dominion of New England, were unsuccessful, although the Massachusetts Bay Colony did eventually wind up absorbing the Plymouth Bay Colony, and I believe there were actually originally several separate colonies in what is now Connecticut.)

When they declared independence, the Thirteen Colonies proclaimed themselves “free and indepenent states”, not “a free and independent state”–in practice, they had cooperated and generally rebelled and fought for independence as a group, and established the Articles of Confederation as a confederal form of government with a weak central government even before the war had ended.

There were at least four colonies that had land in what is now Connecticut. New Haven Colony (around New Haven harbor) and Saybrook Colony (around the mouth of the Connecticut river) that were merged into Connecticut Colony (centered in Hartford) in 1665 and 1644. In addition, parts of the south eastern corner and parts of the northern border area were part of Massachusetts until the 1700s.

In addition most of Long Island was claimed by Connecticut Colony until 1664 and more than half of what is now Rhode Island until 1728.

While there were thirteen distinct political entities, they were colonies not independent nation-states. They declared independence as a collective unit, which was why there was a Declaration of Indpendence, not thirteen seperate ones.

It’s not quite as simple as that. The DoI ends with interesting phraseology.

That speaks of the Colonies, even though they be united, as a number of Free and Independent States. No mention of a union, a country, a confederation, or any other overarching body can be found. The State of Great Britain is a singular. The Free and Independent States are plural. True, the phrase united States of America is used, but seems synonymous with united Colonies. In both united is lower case, indicating that the title of the United States had not yet been put forward into an understanding of a single country.

And that is the only way to comprehend the structure of the Articles, which otherwise are mystifying in their vagueness and deliberate omission of almost everything we think of today as baseline to a nation-state.

I dont know, the original US remind me a lot of the Helvetic Confederation with its cantons and its battle-ready (well, at least in the case of the Swiss) militias.

The Greek city states may have been an example too. IIRC each city state controlled a large area of land and people. Each city state had its own army. Sparta is the best known example. They had a lot of autonomy.

I’d present the same quote as evidence of the opposite conclusion. If free and independent states “have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do” then the thirteen states were obviously not free and independent as they did not have those powers under both the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution.

There was very probably some influence from the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands.

Te confederation was a failed international organization. Don’t think of it as the predecessor to the current USA, think of it as the predecessor to the pre-civil war USA. After the civil war, the federal government grew from an interstate organization that dealt with foreign relations and attempted to settle interstate disputes into a strong, central power.

A lot of the problem is confusion in the term “state”. When the USA uses the term, it’s talking about (nominally) independent entities, more independent the further back in time you go.

The States themselves didn’t want to sceede independence to one and other any more than they wanted to sceede independence to the crown. So they aranged themselves in a way that made the most sense. Mutual defense, and that’s easies when you consolidate foreign relations and military power (evidence: CSA, Which almost lead to mutliple interstate wars).

Both Articles of Confederation and the Constitution were written MUCH later than the Declaration of Independence. The colonies had it in their heads to work together to some degree all along, but they never intended to be provinces of a nation-state - they fully intended to be nation-states in and of themselves. I suspect the European Union is not far off from what they’d initially envisioned. The Articles of Confederation made the federal powers so weak it couldn’t even pay the army that had fought the war to win independence. In fact, it is reasonable to call the Constitution a revolution (or perhaps counter-revolution) in and of itself.

You might as well ask why the founders of the EU decided to divide it into France, Germany, etc. The states weren’t a result of a subdivision of the federal nation; the federal nation was a result of unification of the states. That’s what the “United” is for in “United States”.

The Continental Congress started working on the Articles of Confederation at the same time the Declaration of Independence was being written and they were completed in 1777.

Not really. If the United States were a real confederation of independent nations, then you’d have the individual states granting powers to the federal government by their constitutions. That’s not the case, even for the original thirteen states. What we have (and have had) is a federal constitution which grants powers to the states.

NATO is a military alliance of independent states - the United States is not.

Where did that power come from?

“We, the people”

This is a good example so is the Swiss Confederation. In fact the British thought confederation would not work over such a large area. This was a key factor in the British defeat. Many thought it would be easier to quit now and wait till the colonies started squabbling and came back to the British.

Of course the British were also starting to realize they didn’t have to own anything as long as they could make money from it. This is why they supported South American Independence movements. They could trade and make money from them, and as long as they could do that, owning the colony wasn’t an absolute.