Instruction is common political practice before the Articles. In the Journal of the Continental Congress, we read that States did “instruct” on Confederation.
For example, a resolution of instruction from Maryland did “instruct you not to agree to the confederation, unless an article or articles be added thereto in conformity with our [State’s] declaration” (May 21, 1779). In the debates, instruction meant “what steps it is the pleasure of our Constituents we should take in case we should be instructed” (Volume 16, September 1, 1780 – February 28, 1781).
Instructions enabled the people to instruct representatives, or for the legislature to instruct their delegates, and time was taken by the delegates to “wish to know the minds of my constituents” (Volume 11 October 1, 1778 – January 31, 1779). In the record, we read that “their instructions were adopted” or they were adopted in the negative (Volume 19 August 1, 1782 – March 11, 1783) and that the people “should think proper to instruct their delegates in Congress of their own accord” (Volume 4; John Adams to Vergennes, 1781).
Dear reader, to what degree do you think republicanism, or self-government via the right to instruct, is alive in the early 21st century? Can you think of an example?