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Why the Articles of Confederation Sucked and How The Constitution Fixed It
Transcript of Why the Articles of Confederation Sucked and How The Constitution Fixed It
Articles of Confederation Domestic Economy Issues Congress couldn't levy taxes--that power was given to the states. Therefore, the federal government depended on the states for funds. Not granting this power to the federal government was a significant oversight, and probably the biggest issue with the Articles of Confederation, since the federal government had a large amount of debt to pay off after the war. However, states often wouldn't contribute to the federal government in fear that other states might not contribute. Congress didn't have the power to create a steady currency, each state issued its own currency. Trade Issues Congress could not negotiate trade with foreign nations. Each state had the responsibility to manage its own trade agreements. Furthermore, Congress couldn't even regulate trade among the states, leading to things such as states charging other states to use their ports. Procedural/Structural Issues The federal government only consisted of a unicameral legislature, in which each state received ONLY ONE vote. A supermajority of 9 out of 13 states had to pass laws. Unanimous consent was required to amend the Articles of Confederation. Since the federal government consisted only of a legislature, there was no executive branch to enforce the laws and no judicial branch to interpret the laws. States routinely blatantly disregarded rules set forth by Congress. States were bound together by a "league of friendship," as our AGT book describes it. That means that they didn't feel particularly obligated to make many contributions to improve another state. How these issues were fixed in the Constitution: Domestic Economy Fixes Congress was given the power to levy and collect taxes for the federal government. The right to create a uniform currency was delegated to the federal government. Trade Fixes The federal government was given the sole power to regulate trade and alliances with foreign countries. Additionally, Congress was given the power to regulate interstate commerce in the commerce clause. Procedural/Structural Fixes A bicameral Congress was created, with the House of Representatives based on population. Also, executive and judicial branches were established. Laws are now passed with a simple majority. Only three-fourths of the states are required to ratify a Constitutional amendment before it goes into effect. Under the Supremacy Clause, the federal government's laws are the "supreme law" of the land, resulting in less states bucking federal rule. States are now joined in a permanent union, depending on each other to get issues solved.