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The Articles of Confederation

What were they, why were they a problem, what replaced them?

Douglas Brown

on 13 March 2018

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Transcript of The Articles of Confederation

The Articles of Confederation
Chapter 5, section 1, p. 152-155
Ratified in 1781

Replaced in 1789
Written in 1777 by a Committee of Thirteen
The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union

Our first constitution
States delegated (gave) power to a federal govenment
Unicameral legislature
No chief executive
No federal courts
Confederation Congress
Congress could not tax the states
To sum it up,
The Confederation Congress was too weak to be effective.
The Capitol wasn't built yet.
Many powers were reserved by the states

Congress could not
tax states
prevent states from issuing their own money
amend the articles without the consent of all 13 states
require states to provide money to run the national government
regulate trade and commerce
enforce a law in any state that did not accept that law
A convention was called to address the problems with the Articles of Confederation in 1787, and the result was a new Constitution.
1788- the present
States reserved most of the power for themselves
no checks and balances
one vote per state
One member per state
Powers delegated to the Congress

Confederation Congress could
declare war
settle conflicts among states
make coins
borrow money
make treaties with other countries and Native Americans
sell western lands
establish post office
letters of marque
to privateers
Congress could not keep a standing army (regulars)
sold western lands to make money
However, the Congress did pass Land Ordinance of 1785
Congress passed the Northwest Ordinance of 1787

"Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged."

-protected religious freedom
-public education
-property rights
-trial by jury
-habeas corpus-protection against unlawful imprisonment
-no excessive fines or cruel and unusual punishment
-banned slavery- first limit on expansion of slavery
-ban on ex post facto laws
<a rel="license" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/"><img alt="Creative Commons License" style="border-width:0" src="http://i.creativecommons.org/l/by-sa/3.0/88x31.png" /></a><br /><span xmlns:dct="http://purl.org/dc/terms/" property="dct:title">Articles of Confederation</span> is licensed under a <a rel="license" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/">Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License</a>.
-because armies could be used to take away liberties
the ability to make someone do something
the right to make someone do something
What is the difference
between power and authority?
Many powers were reserved by the states

Congress could not
tax states
prevent states from issuing their own money
amend the articles without the consent of all 13 states
require states to provide money to run the national government
regulate trade and commerce
enforce a law in any state that did not accept that law
The New Nation Faces Challenges
chapter 5, section 2, p. 158-162
unicameral legislature
(one chamber)

Parliament is bicameral
House of Commons and House of Lords

Congress today is bicameral
House of Representatives and the Senate
internal economic problems
FORTS in the Northwest Territory
closed PORTS in the West Indies
TARIFFS on goods shipped to Britain
Human life is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."
Thomas Hobbes

Natural state of man is at war.

Safety and security result from people creating societies with a strong sovereign who would protect the people.

The people had to cede freedoms for security.
obey laws
States did not want a strong federal government
replacing the monarchy they had declared independence from.

Limited Government was desired.
Northwest Ordinance of 1787 addressed admission of new states.

a. Territory gets a governor, secretary, and three judges

b. population of 5,000 "free male inhabitants of full age", could form a general assembly for a legislature.

c. once a population of 60,000 had been achieved within a particular territory it could write a constitution and petition the U.S. Congress to be admitted as a new state

Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin
The impact of this legislation was significant in several ways:

The ordinance spurred the westward movement of American settlers
It overturned the colonial idea that newly settled lands would be subservient to established areas
It established the format for American land policy for years to come
The law provided the first national limitation upon the expansion of slavery.

Tariffs: Taxes on imports and exports
Balance of Trade
compares imports to exports

Favorable balance of trade
would you export more than you import.

unfavorable balance of trade
means you import more than you export.
Confederation Congress could not regulate
interstate commerce: trade between states

States made trade policies beneficial to their own interests.
Difficult for businesses crossing state lines
States issued large amounts of paper money.

resulted: increased prices with reduced value of money.

: a steep drop in economic activity

Annapolis, Maryland
September 1786

Delegates discuss economic problems and changing the Articles of Confederation

However, attendance was poor so a new convention is arranged for May, 1787 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and other delegates call on all 13 states to attend to discuss revising the Articles of Confederation.
The Rule of Law

Even government officials are subject to laws

In England's History:
Magna Carta-1215
English Bill of Rights- 1689

Limited power of monarch and gave more power to Parliament, who represented the people.

English monarch can not change laws with out Parliament's consent.
17th century- use
to solve problems

Social Contract between government and the people
John Locke says people must retain natural rights

Government is limited in power.
New state constitutions were written during the revolution.

states limited government power; leaders had to follow laws.
rights of the accused are protected
some states begin to ban slavery
states protected rights
states expanded suffrage to more people

Virginia Statute for Religious Fre
Chapter 5
Forming a Government
p. 149
All 13 states had to ratify (formally approve) the Articles of Confederation before they went into effect.
Ratification was delayed over the issue of western lands.

Maryland led smaller states with no claims to western lands, saying lands west of the Appalachians should be ceded to the central/federal government.
Some constitution trivia:

The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut were the first written constitution in the American colonies in 1639.

The Massachusetts Constitution, written primarily by John Adams, is the oldest functioning written constitution in continuous effect in the world. It was ratified in 1780!
constitution: a set of basic principles and laws that states the powers and duties of the government.
Congress continued to be called the Continental Congress, but some texts refer to it as the Confederation Congress.
Each state sent a group of delegates, numbering from 2-7.

Delegates were chosen by state legislatures.

For example, in a vote, if the there were three delegates, when two delegates said yes and one said no, the state voted yes.
Recitals: Declaration of Independence/Preamble

50 = A flawless, or nearly so...
43 = B no paper, but need a little help
37 = C use paper with blanks
32 = D can only recite a portion of what is required, you can make it through the natural rights segment.

Merchants had to raise prices to pay tariffs on goods shipped to Britain, making goods more expensive in America.
When do Americans declare Independence?

Who do Americans declare Independence from?

Social Contract Quiz time!
suffrage means the right to vote
Thomas Jefferson writes the Virginia Statue for Religious Freedom, which declared that no person could be forced to attend a particular church or be required to pay for a church with tax money.

Ratified January 16, 1786
Before the Constitution in 1788 and the First Amendment in 1791

Confederation: a union of political units for a common cause.
The British would leave western forts with "with all convenient speed".

What does that even mean?
1784: Spain closes the lower Mississippi River to U.S. shipping.
Economic Issues
"Our federal government is but a name: a mere shadow without substance."
No way to pay debts!
"The said States hereby severally enter into a firm league of friendship with each other ,

for their common defense, the security of their liberties and their mutual and general welfare, binding themselves to assist each other, against all force offered to, or attacks made upon them, or any of them, on account of religion, sovereignty, trade, or any other pretense whatever."
Americans could travel freely between states.
Federal/National/Central Government

Joins the states together
Have you ever heard anyone say this?

The government is too large,

it has too much power.
No executive (King, President, Governor, Leader of the Nation) to enforce laws and lead the country.

No federal courts
Term Limits

No delegate could serve for more than three years out of a six year period.

term= 3 of 6 years maximum

to prevent the creation of a class of political elites.

Modern term lengths and limits


U.S. Senator?

U.S. House of Representatives?

9 of 13 states needed to ratify legislation
What % is that?

13 of 13 states needed to amend the Articles
States were supposed to keep well trained and supplied militias to defend themselves and others in an emergency.

Congress could ask states for troops, but the state did not have to supply them.
No chief executive to enforce laws passed by Congress

No courts to handle disputes involving more than one state.
Article II. Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every Power, Jurisdiction, and right,
which is not by this confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.
The Articles of Confederation created a union between the first 13 states.

The federal government was weak, and the states retained most of the power.

How did the Constitution change the power the federal government had?
Did the Constitution make the federal government stronger or weaker?

What concerns did Antifederalists have?
Full transcript