Today, you all know of America as a developed first-world country with a federal form of government. But it went through many ordeals and transformations that made it what it is today. The story behind the establishment of the American government is full of wars and struggles. After America’s establishment, The Articles of Confederation was the first solid step toward establishing the first form of government. Now, you must be wondering what the Article of Confederation was? What were the strengths of the articles of confederation? What were the weaknesses of The Articles of Confederation? Continue reading to learn more.
1. An Overview of the Articles of Confederation
In 1776, the 13 colonies declared their independence from Great Britain. They formed a new country and named it The United States of America. The 13 colonies are listed below:
- New Hampshire,
- Rhode Island and Providence Plantations,
- New York,
- New Jersey,
- North Carolina,
- South Carolina, and
Before this independence declaration, the country had seen a lot of struggles over extreme taxation, internal conflicts, battles, being called a rebellious state, and even facing an invasion from the British army. After the independence declaration, the country clearly didn’t want the government to have too much power. On the other hand, each state wanted to be responsible for itself. But the country was at war at that time, and it needed to make a certain set of rules that the country followed. (See Rhode Island Smallest State in USA)
Keeping this in mind, the USA’s first constitution, The Articles of Confederation, was drafted by a committee for whom the Continental Congress voted. It was written in June 1776. It established the USA as a confederation of sovereign states. This constitution wasn’t any better as it established a weak central government. The Articles of Federation contained 13 short articles which will later give you an idea about what were the strengths of the articles of confederation and its shortcomings:
- Article I stated that the name of the new country should be the United States of America.
- Article II reassured the new states that the national government would not be bigger than individual states. They would maintain their powers, excluding the powers given to the central government. Also, check out how the States got their shapes.
- Article III defined the new country as not a nation but a union of individual states that have entered into a firm league of friendship with each other. These states would work together to protect their liberty and defense and would fight in unison against any attack made upon them.
- Article IV emphasizes that the United States is a country. It also promised to allow people free movement between the states. If a criminal from one state runs to the other, then it shall be the responsibility of the new person to return the criminal. (See Why the United States is called America?)
- According to Article V, each state was given one vote in the Congress of the Confederation.
- Article VI talks about the responsibilities of the federal government. Only the central government had the power to conduct foreign relations commercially or politically. Only it held the power to declare war.
- Article VII states that the state legislatures have the power to name the officers in the army.
- Article VIII talks about the payment of expenses by the United States. The funds were to be collected by state legislation and then given to the states as needed by the federal government.
- Article IX establishes that Congress would be responsible for federal relationships, making money, entering treaties, and determining war. It will also serve the purpose of a court between the states.
- Article X again reassures the state that their power will not be taken from them. If Congress is not in session, its power will be given back to the states.
- Articles XI, XII, and XIII focus on some last rules of the country. It allowed the Province of Quebec to join the new country if it wanted to. It also stated that the debt sustained due to war before forming these articles would be considered the country’s war debt. Lastly, it clarified that the Articles of Confederation were final, and only Congress held power to change it. To know what were the strengths of the articles of confederation, read the next segments.
2. What are the Five accomplishments of the Articles of Confederation?
The Articles of Confederation accomplished some important things during its period. The five most important accomplishments under its name are:
- It waged the war of Independence against Britain and was successful in it.
- It signed the Treaty of Paris in 1783. The terms of the treaty were very favorable for the country. The negotiators from the USA’s side, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and John Jay, did a great job at securing the deal as they had no prior experience in negotiating treaties.
- It kept the 13 states together to ensure that the central government didn’t threaten the state’s power.
- The Land Ordinance of 1785 planned for expansion into the western territory of the Appalachian Mountains, provided scientific surveying of the territory’s land, and called for a systemic subdivision in them. It stated that land should be subdivided as per a rectangular grid system where the basic unit of the land grant was the township.
- The Northwest Ordinance 1787 planned to establish a government in the territories and provide them with basic democratic rights. It set territory through a process of being a government. (See 6 Official Languages of UN)
Let’s move on to what were the strengths of the Articles Of Confederation. (See Why is the American Flag Red, White, and Blue?)
3. What were the Strengths of The Articles of Confederation?
Like any other government document, the Articles of Confederation were made with great consideration. It has certain strengths and weaknesses that were seen during its timeline. Let us first see what were the strengths of the Articles of Confederation as they weren’t focused on a lot because of the failure this document suffered.
- Due to the monarchy’s fear, it set the legislative body, Congress, as the nation’s highest power.
- Congress had the power to declare war, sign treaties, make peace, operate post offices, and form foreign relations.
- The government established the Department of Foreign Affairs, War, Marine, and Treasury.
- Initially, Congress solved the territorial disputes between the states. (See Why do some people want to migrate to the United States?)
4. What are the Two Advantages of the Articles of Confederation?
The two primary advantages of the Articles of Confederation are:
- It maintained the sovereignty and independence of each state within the union. (See Is St Augustine Oldest City in the US?)
- It allowed free movement between the states.
5. What are the 5 major Weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation?
Now that you have learned what were the strengths of the Articles of Confederation, let’s learn what were the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation? It will help you understand the shortcomings of the present constitution replacing it.
- Lack of an executive branch to enforce acts passed by Congress. Also, check out uses of police red and blue lights.
- Lack of a national court system.
- Congress became powerless to regulate foreign and interstate commerce.
- Congress had no powers to levy taxes, and a government needed funds to operate.
- Amendments in the Articles of Confederation required unanimous votes, and it restricted its ability to act in an emergency. (See What were some Negative Effects of the Industrial Revolution?)
6. What are the Disadvantages of the Articles of Confederation?
The Articles of Confederation had some major disadvantages associated with them. Let’s view some of them and understand why they were bad for the government.
- Each state in the USA held one vote regardless of its size.
- The government lacked a proper-executive branch and had very limited funds to sustain itself. (See Prime Minister and President)
- Congress held no power to regulate foreign policies and no national court system existed.
- 9/13 majority was required for Congress to pass any law.
- Each state printed its own money, had its military, and some other states could take taxes on other states’ goods. These all led to an unstable national economy. (See Who Invented Paper Money?)
7. What Struggles did the Country experience under the Articles of Confederation?
Apart from what were the strengths of the articles of confederation, the country faced a lot of tribulations and struggles due to the shortcomings of these articles. They were;
- Since the government had no power to generate taxes, the citizens could only ask states for financial help. The states rarely provided any financial aid to the government, and thus the government couldn’t pay its debt. It couldn’t even fund anything. The emerging nation faced final hardships.
- As the national government held no national judicial body, the disputes between states regarding territories were hard to solve.
- Each state had one vote, so the citizens of small countries held more power than the citizens of bigger states.
- The central government didn’t have any military, and the states could refuse to send soldiers, making protecting the nation impossible.
- The majority of the states were required to pass a law, but getting consensus on the law was difficult and nearly impossible. It was also impossible to improve the articles. (See What were the Causes and Effects of the War of 1812?)
Due to these shortcomings and especially economic hardships, revolutionary war veteran Daniel Shays led a violent uprising against the government in Massachusetts and other states from 1786 to 87. The answers to what were the strengths of the articles of confederation and its weaknesses especially demanded change in the Articles of Confederation. (See Why Is the Illuminati on the Dollar Bill?)
8. What Document replaced the Articles of Confederation in 1788?
Despite knowing the what were the strengths of the articles of confederation, its weaknesses and the history of Shay’s Rebellion made it evident that the Articles of Confederation needed to be changed, leading to the Constitutional Convention in 1787. On June 21, the government under the Articles of Confederation ended as New Hampshire became the 9th state to accept the Constitution. The United States of America’s current Constitution replaced the Articles of Confederation on March 4, 1789. (See How Old would Martin Luther King be today?)