Lesson 1 - Articles of Confederation


American History Pages
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  Colonial America
  American Revolution
  The Constitution
  Our Nation Grows
  Civil War
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Government Unit
  Lesson 1 - Articles of Confederation
  Lesson 2 - Writing the Constitution
  Lesson 3 - Checks and Balances of the Government
  Lesson 4 - The New Government
  The First Political Parties
  George Washington
  Article I - Legislative Branch
  How a Bill Becomes a Law
  Article II - Executive Branch
  Article III - Judicial Branch
  Lesson 5 - Bill of Rights

While the Revolutionary War was going on, the Second Continental Congress acted as the government. They made laws, appointed officers in the army, and made loans. When the war was over the Congress made a plan for the new nation. This plan was called the Articles of Confederation.

The Articles of Confederation created rules for the states to work together instead of each ruling separately as they had before the war. A Congress was formed with each state having one vote. The colonists did not want the Congress to have many powers.

Congress was given the following powers:

resolve interstate disputes

regulate interaction with Native Americans in the West

operate a national postal system

could declare war

make treaties

print or borrow money



The Congress did not have these rights:

could not raise an army or navy

could not tax

could not control trade with other nations
or between states

no national courts to enforce laws

The Articles of Confederation was approved by all thirteen colonies in 1781. This Congress was so weak that its members did not attend the meetings. They hardly had enough members to vote on the Treaty of Paris to end the Revolutionary War.

The government was so weak that other countries took advantage of Americans.

Spanish stopped the American farmers and fur traders from working on the Mississippi River
English would not take its troops out of the Northwest Territory
Pirates in the Mediterranean Sea stopped American ships and took cargo

Another major weakness was each state printed its own money, and people disagreed what each state's money was worth.

By 1787 most Americans realized that America need a stronger government.