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Failure of the Confederate Article

The Articles of Confederation was the first constitution of the United States put together by the 13 original states and approved by Congress in 1777 and ratified by the states in 1781. They created a loose confederation of sovereign states with most of the power allocated to state governments. In 1789, they were replaced by the present United States Constitution, having proved their ineffectiveness in addressing the issues facing the new nation.

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The first reason behind the failure was the general weakness of the central government established by the Articles. They did not provide for three separate branches of government: execute, legislative, and judicial. The government had the power to pass laws, but no power to enforce them upon the states. If a state did not approve the law, it could simply ignore it (Graebner et al. 75). No federal court system or organized military force was established, making the government unable to protect the union of the states.

The second group of reasons behind the failure was financial. As set by the Articles, Congress had no power to levy taxes and relied on the voluntary efforts of the states to send money to the central government (Graebner et al. 139). No uniform system of currency was introduced, and the government had no power to regulate trade, making it unable to settle the country’s debts from the Revolutionary War.

The third reason was the poor representation of the states in Congress. Each state was given only one vote regardless of its size, which was an issue with the larger states whose population was misrepresented (Van Cleeve 299). The votes of nine states were required to pass the law, and with the states’ votes representing a disproportionate percentage of the country’s population, a very small part of the population could turn the bill down.

The Articles of Confederation sought to create a system aimed at preserving as much liberty and freedom as possible but failed to provide enough structure to maintain it. With each state retaining its sovereignty, it could act independently from the central government in pursuit of its own interests. The central government was weak and unable to enforce its authority and protect the union of the states.

Works Cited

Graebner, Norman, et al. Foreign Affairs and the Founding Fathers: From Confederation to Constitution, 1776–1787. ABC-CLIO, 2011.

Van Cleeve, George. We Have Not a Government: The Articles of Confederation and the Road to the Constitution. University of Chicago Press, 2017.

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