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Overview of the Articles of Confederation

The Articles of Confederation, a document that laid a foundation for the Constitution, provided a somewhat effective government. The American colonists possessed a fear of central authority, which inhibited the creation of a government with great constitutional order. Congress, however, felt that a stronger central government was needed to keep the fledgling country together. Nonetheless, a compromise was reached and the Articles of Confederation was formed. Congress would exercise considerable powers such as jurisdiction over foreign relations and charge over many economical conditions.

With the end of the revolution, America was left in a state of dismay and open to attack from foreign nations. Under the Articles of Confederation, Congress had the power to make treaties and alliances with alien nations, declare war and peace, and maintain an army and navy. However, decisions on these specified matters required the assent of nine states in Congress and all others required a majority. This made decision making a highly complicated and drawn-out process.

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As states remained sovereign and independent, many national problems began to arise. Congress had no power to control commerce or incite taxation. This allowed states to establish their own laws regarding tariffs and navigation. States were also able to determine their own currency, which injured trade between states. Because of the extremely unrestrained Articles of Confederation, Congress was left helpless as the economy began to fall at the feet of the state governments who were heading toward anarchy.

The Articles of Confederation have been described as a “firm league of friendship” of states “for their common defence, the security of their liberties, and their mutual and general welfare.” For seven years, this form of government-supported America but the National feeling grew slowly although major efforts to amend the Articles in order to give Congress the power to tax failed in 1781 and 1786. The year after the failure of 1786, the Constitutional Convention met in Philadelphia and closed the history of government under the articles of confederation.

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Overview of the Articles of Confederation. (2021, Feb 12). Retrieved August 1, 2021, from