Lesson 1 - Articles of Confederation



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

Postal Service

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.


Lesson Links

Lesson 1 - Articles of Confederation

Lesson 2 - Writing the Constitution

Lesson 3 - Checks and Balances of the Government

Lesson 4 - The New Government

Lesson 5 - Bill of Rights

The First Political Parties

George Washington

Article I - Legislative Branch

How a Bill Becomes a Law

Article II - Executive Branch

Article III - Judicial Branch