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Articles of Confederation

By Lauren Juhan and McKenna Burke
by Lauren Juhan on 5 November 2012

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Transcript of Articles of Confederation

Articles of Confederation
by Lauren Juhan and McKenna Burke,
Period 6, 10/25/12 Articles:

".org" http://www.ushistory.org/us/14b.asp

".net" http://www.barefootsworld.net/aoc1777.html

".gov" http://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/ourdocs/articles.html

".com" http://americanhistory.about.com/od/governmentandpolitics/f/articles_of_confederation_fails.htm

".edu" http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/disp_textbook.cfm?smtID=2&psid=3225 Yellow Highlighted Words Summary:
Article 1: The Continental Congress had a loose confederation.
Article 2: The Articles of Confederation served as a "bridge"
Article 3: A strong federal government was needed.
Article 4: Congress couldn't tax...
Article 5: Yet the states could tax. Article 4:
Question: Why did the Articles of Confederation fail?
The Articles of Confederation established the first governmental structure unifying the thirteen states that had fought in the American Revolution. They went into effect on March 1, 1781 and lasted until March 4, 1789 when they were replaced by the US Constitution. Why did the Articles of Confederation only last eight years? In effect why did the Articles of Confederation fail?
Answer: The purpose of the Articles of Confederation was to create a confederation of states whereby each state retained "its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right . . . not . . . expressly delegated to the United States in Congress assembled." In other words, every state was as independent as possible with the United States only responsible for the common defense, security of liberties, and the general welfare. To this effect, the Articles were purposely written to keep the national government as weak as possible. However, there were many problems that soon became apparent as the Articles took effect.
Weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation

Following is a list of the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation:
Each state only had one vote in Congress, regardless of size.
Congress had not have the power to tax.
Congress did not have the power to regulate foreign and interstate commerce.
There was no executive branch to enforce any acts passed by Congress.
There was no national court system.
Amendments to the Articles of Confederation required a unanimous vote.
Laws required a 9/13 majority to pass in Congress.
Under the Articles of Confederation, states often argued amongst themselves. They also refused to financially support the national government. The national government was powerless to enforce any acts it did pass. Some states began making agreements with foreign governments. Most had their own military. Each state printed its own money. There was no stable economy.
In 1786, Shays' Rebellion occurred in western Massachusetts as a protest to rising debt and economic chaos. However, the national government was unable to gather a combined military force amongst the states to help put down the rebellion.

Gathering of the Philadelphia Convention

As the economic and military weaknesses became apparent, individuals began asking for changes to the Articles that would create a stronger national government. Initially, some states met to deal with their trade and economic problems. As more states became interested in meeting to change the Articles, a meeting was set in Philadelphia on May 25, 1787. This became the Constitutional Convention. Article Websites:
".org" http://www.ushistory.org/us/14b.asp

".net" http://www.barefootsworld.net/aoc1777.html

".gov" http://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/ourdocs/articles.html

".com" http://americanhistory.about.com/od/governmentandpolitics/f/articles_of_confederation_fails.htm

".edu" http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/disp_textbook.cfm?smtID=2&psid=3225 Article 3:

The Continental Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation, the first constitution of the United States, on November 15, 1777. However, ratification of the Articles of Confederation by all thirteen states did not occur until March 1, 1781. The Articles created a loose confederation of sovereign states and a weak central government, leaving most of the power with the state governments. The need for a stronger Federal government soon became apparent and eventually led to the Constitutional Convention in 1787. The present United States Constitution replaced the Articles of Confederation on March 4, 1789. Article 2:
Agreed to by the Continental Congress November 15, 1777 and in effect after ratification by Maryland, March 1,1781, the Articles of Confederation served as a bridge between the initial government by the Continental Congress of the Revolutionary period and the federal government provided under the Constitution for the United States in effect March 4, 1789.
After the ratification of the Declaration of Independence, establishing the "united colonies" as Free and Independent States, the Continental Congress set to work on the task of drawing up a document that would provide a legal framework for that Union, and which would be enforceable as the law of the new land. The Articles were written during the early part of the American Revolution by a committee of the Second Continental Congress of the now independent thirteen sovereign states. The head of the committee, John Dickinson, who had refused to sign the Declaration of Independence, nevertheless adhering to the will of the majority of the members of the Continental Congress, presented a report on the proposed articles to the Congress on July 12, 1776, eight days after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Dickinson initially proposed a strong central government, with control over the western lands, equal representation for the states, and the power to levy taxes. Because of their experience with Great Britain, the 13 states feared a powerful central government. Consequently, they changed Dickinson's proposed articles drastically before they sent them to all the states for ratification in November 1777. The Continental Congress had been careful to give the states as much independence as possible. The Articles deliberately established a confederation of sovereign states, carefully specifying the limited functions of the federal government. Despite these precautions, several years passed before all the states ratified the articles. The delay resulted from preoccupation with the revolution and from disagreements among the states. These disagreements included quarrels over boundary lines, conflicting decisions by state courts, differing tariff laws, and trade restrictions between states. The small states wanted equal representation with the large states in Congress, and the large states were afraid they would have to pay an excessive amount of money to support the federal government. In addition, the states disagreed over control of the western territories. The states with no frontier borders wanted the government to control the sale of these territories so that all the states profited. On the other hand, the states bordering the frontier wanted to control as much land as they could.
Eventually the states agreed to give control of all western lands to the federal government, paving the way for final ratification of the articles on March 1, 1781, just seven and a half months before the surrender of Lord Cornwallis and his British Army at Yorktown, October 19, 1781, the victory ended fighting in the War of Independence and virtually assured success to the American cause. Almost the entire war for five long years had been prosecuted by the members of the Second Continental Congress as representatives of a loose federation of states with no constitution, acting at many times only on their own individual strengths, financial resources and reputations..The Surrender of Lord Cornwallis to General Geo. Washington at Yorktown
-- Oct. 19, 1781 --

Under the Articles, on paper, the Congress had power to regulate foreign affairs, war, and the postal service and to appoint military officers, control Indian affairs, borrow money, determine the value of coin, and issue bills of credit. In reality, however, the Articles gave the Congress no power to enforce its requests to the states for money or troops, and by the end of 1786 governmental effectiveness had broken down.Nevertheless, some solid accomplishments had been achieved: certain state claims to western lands were settled, and the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 established the fundamental pattern of evolving government in the territories north of the Ohio River. Equally important, the Confederation provided the new nation with instructive experience in self-government under a written document. In revealing their own weaknesses, the Articles paved the way for the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and the present form of U.S. government.The Articles were in force from March 1, 1781, to March 4, 1789, when the present Constitution of the United States went into effect. During those years the 13 states were struggling to achieve their independent status, and the Articles of Confederation stood them in good stead in the process and exercise of learning self-government.The Provisions of the ArticlesThe articles created a loose confederation of independent states that gave limited powers to a central government. The national government would consist of a single house of Congress, where each state would have one vote. Congress had the power to set up a postal department, to estimate the costs of the government and request donations from the states, to raise armed forces, and to control the development of the western territories. With the consent of nine of the thirteen states, Congress could also coin, borrow, or appropriate money as well as declare war and enter into treaties and alliances with foreign nations.There was no independent executive and no veto of legislation. Judicial proceedings in each state were to be honored by all other states. The federal government had no judicial branch, and the only judicial authority Congress had was the power to arbitrate disputes between states. Congress was denied the power to levy taxes; the new federal government was financed by donations from the states based on the value of each state's lands. Any amendment to the articles required the unanimous approval of all 13 states.

Weaknesses
In attempting to limit the power of the central government, the Second Continental Congress created one without sufficient power to govern effectively, which led to serious national and international problems. The greatest weakness of the federal government under the Articles of Confederation was its inability to regulate trade and levy taxes. Sometimes the states refused to give the government the money it needed, and they engaged in tariff wars with one another, almost paralyzing interstate commerce. The government could not pay off the debts it had incurred during the revolution, including paying soldiers who had fought in the war and citizens who had provided supplies to the cause. Congress could not pass needed measures because they lacked the nine-state majority required to become laws. The states largely ignored Congress, which was powerless to enforce cooperation, and it was therefore unable to carry out its duties.After the Colonial victory in the Revolutionary War, it became obvious to the Founding Fathers that the original attempt would not be equal to the task of providing the equitable law which they sought. Congress could not force the states to adhere to the terms of the Treaty of Paris of 1783 ending the American Revolution, which was humiliating to the new government, especially when some states started their own negotiations with foreign countries. In addition, the new nation was unable to defend its borders from British and Spanish encroachment because it could not pay for an army when the states would not contribute the necessary funds. Leaders like Alexander Hamilton of New York and James Madison of Virginia criticized the limits placed on the central government, and General George Washington is said to have complained that the federation was "little more than a shadow without substance."On February 21, 1787, Congress called for a Constitutional Convention to be held in May to revise the articles. Between May and September, the convention wrote the present Constitution for the United States, which retained some of the features of the Articles of Confederation but gave considerably more power to the federal government. The new Constitution provided for executive and judicial branches of government, lacking in the Articles, and allowed the government to tax its citizens. Articles http://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/ourdocs/articles.html 5 Articles: This graph shows the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation.It shows the result of the weaknesses, too. Bibliography



"14b. Articles of Confederation." Articles of Confederation ushistory.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Nov. 2012. <http://www.ushistory.org/us/14b.asp>.

"The Articles of Confederation - 1777." The Articles of Confederation. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Nov. 2012. <http://www.barefootsworld.net/aoc1777.html>.

"Articles of Confederation." Digital History. N.p., Fall 2012. Web. 5 Nov. 2012. < http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/disp_textbook.cfm?smtID=2&psid=3225>.

"Primary Documents in American History." Articles of Confederation: Primary Documents of American History (Virtual Programs & Services, Library of Congress). N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Nov. 2012. <http://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/ourdocs/articles.html>.

"Why Did the Articles of Confederation fail?" About.com American History. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Nov. 2012. <http://americanhistory.about.com/od/governmentandpolitics/f/articles_of_confederation_fails.htm>. http://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/ourdocs/articles.html Article 1:
While the state constitutions were being created, the Continental Congress continued to meet as a general political body. Despite being the central government, it was a loose confederation and most significant power was held by the individual states. By 1777 members of Congress realized that they should have some clearly written rules for how they were organized. As a result the ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION were drafted and passed by the Congress in November.This first national "constitution" for the United States was not particularly innovative, and mostly put into written form how the Congress had operated since 1775.

Even though the Articles were rather modest in their proposals, they would not be ratified by all the states until 1781. Even this was accomplished largely because the dangers of war demanded greater cooperation.

The purpose of the central government was clearly stated in the Articles. The Congress had control over diplomacy, printing money, resolving controversies between different states, and, most importantly, coordinating the war effort. The most important action of the Continental Congress was probably the creation and maintenance of the Continental Army. Even in this area, however, the central government's power was quite limited. While Congress could call on states to contribute specific resources and numbers of men for the army, it was not allowed to force states to obey the central government's request for aid.


Revolutions need strong leaders and willing citizens to succeed, but they also need money. By curbing inflation and stabilizing the early economy, Robert Morris helped ensure the success of the American Revolution.
The organization of CONGRESS itself demonstrates the primacy of state power. Each state had one vote. Nine out of thirteen states had to support a law for it to be enacted. Furthermore, any changes to the Articles themselves would require unanimous agreement. In the ONE-STATE, ONE-VOTE RULE, state sovereignty was given a primary place even within the national government. Furthermore, the whole national government consisted entirely of the unicameral (one body) Congress with no executive and no judicial organizations.

The national Congress' limited power was especially clear when it came to money issues. Not surprisingly, given that the Revolution's causes had centered on opposition to unfair taxes, the central government had no power to raise its own revenues through taxation. All it could do was request that the states give it the money necessary to run the government and wage the war. By 1780, with the outcome of the war still very much undecided, the central government had run out of money and was BANKRUPT! As a result the paper money it issued was basically worthless.

ROBERT MORRIS, who became the Congress' superintendent of finance in 1781, forged a solution to this dire dilemma. Morris expanded existing government power and secured special privileges for the BANK OF NORTH AMERICA in an attempt to stabilize the value of the paper money issued by the Congress. His actions went beyond the limited powers granted to the national government by the Articles of Confederation, but he succeeded in limiting runaway INFLATION and resurrecting the fiscal stability of the national government. This picture shows the Leaders of the Continental Congress: John Adams, Morris, Hamilton, and Jefferson. These men are very important to the Continental Congress. Question A.) What Powers were granted to Congress by the Articles of Confederation? Answers for A:
Congress could control diplomacy
Print money.
Resolve controversies between different states
Coordinate the war effort.
The most important action of the Continental Congress was probably the making of the Continental Army.
Congress could call on states to contribute resources too.
Congress could control foreign affairs, war, and the postal service and to appoint military officers
Control Indian affairs, borrow money, determine the value of coin, and issue bills of credit. Question B.) What powers were limited to Congress and what problems resulted from the Articles of Confederation? Introduction:
The Articles of Confederation was the first constitution of the United States, and was created on November 15, 1777. By 1777 members of Congress realized that they should have more specific, comprehensible, clear written rules for how they were organized. As a result, the Articles of Confederation were drafted and passed by the Congress in November. Answers for B:
💜Each state, no matter how big, could only vote once in Congress.
Congress couldn't tax.
Congress did not have the power to regulate foreign and interstate commerce.
There was no executive branch to enforce any acts passed by Congress.
There was no national court system.
Amendments to the Articles of Confederation required a unanimous vote.
Congress had little power. It was not allowed to force states to listen to the central government need for aid.
Articles gave the Congress no power to continue requests to the states for money or troops. This picture shows that the Articles of Confederation were drafted in York Town, Pennsylvania in 1777. This old painting shows a meeting with Congress. This painting shows another picture of a meeting with Congress, and it shows what they wore, and the posture of the man speaking seems to show his pride and status. This painting shows Robert Morris, Congress' superintendent of finance in 1781. Study Guide for the Articles of Confederation:
Directions: Get out a piece of lined paper, write down the questions, and answer the questions the best you can.
1.) True or False: The Articles of Confederation were made in the year of 1777.
2.) True or False: The Articles of Confederation were passed in August.
3.) True or False: Congress could tax.
4.) True or False: Robert Morris was Congress’ superintendent of finance.
5.) Fill in the Blank: A strong federal (blank) was needed for the United States to be a good country.
6.) True or False: Thomas Jefferson was a member of Congress.
7.) True or False: Abraham Lincoln was a member of Congress in 1777.
8.) True or False: The Articles of Confederation were drafted in York Town, Pennsylvania in 1777.
9.) True or False: The states couldn't tax.
10.) True or False: Congress made the Continental Army. Effects and Significance Closing Statement:

The Articles of Confederation were made in York Town, Pennsylvania in 1777. Congress became the single branch of the national government, yet it has limited powers to protect the peoples' liberties. Without the Articles of Confederation, our country wouldn't be the same. Article 5:
The Articles of Confederation was the United States' first constitution. Proposed by the Continental Congress in 1777, it was not ratified until 1781.
The Articles represented a victory for those who favored state sovereignty. Article 2 stated that "each State retains its sovereignty, freedom and independence, and every power...which is not...expressly delegated to the United States.…" Any amendment required unanimous consent of the states.

The Articles of Confederation created a national government composed of a Congress, which had the power to declare war, appoint military officers, sign treaties, make alliances, appoint foreign ambassadors, and manage relations with Indians. All states were represented equally in Congress, and nine of the 13 states had to approve a bill before it became law.

Under the Articles, the states, not Congress, had the power to tax. Congress could raise money only by asking the states for funds, borrowing from foreign governments, or selling western lands. In addition, Congress could not draft soldiers or regulate trade. There was no provision for national courts.

The Articles of Confederation did not include a president. The states feared another George III might threaten their liberties. The new framework of government also barred delegates from serving more than three years in any six year period.

The Articles of Confederation created a very weak central government. It is noteworthy that the Confederation Congress could not muster a quorum to ratify on time the treaty that guaranteed American independence, nor could it pay the expense of sending the ratified treaty back to Europe.

The Articles' framers assumed that republican virtue would lead to states to carry out their duties and obey congressional decisions. But the states refused to make their contributions to the central government. Its acts were "as little heeded as the cries of an oysterman." As a result, Congress had to stop paying interest on the public debt. The Continental army threatened to mutiny over lack of pay.

A series of events during the 1780s convinced a group of national leaders that the Articles of Confederation provided a wholly inadequate framework of government. Articles:
".org" http://www.ushistory.org/us/14b.asp

".net" http://www.barefootsworld.net/aoc1777.html

".gov" http://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/ourdocs/articles.html

".com" http://americanhistory.about.com/od/governmentandpolitics/f/articles_of_confederation_fails.htm

".edu" http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/disp_textbook.cfm?smtID=2&psid=3225 The End
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