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Identify two weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation Explain how these weaknesses affected a young nation.

After the American Revolutionary War, America needed a new government. To get

started, the American people first looked at the English Bill of Rights and the Magna Carta which gave lots of power to the representatives of the people in England instead of the national government. The American Government also included their own ideas like town meetings and the Mayflower Compact. In the end, delegates from each colony met at the Second Continental Congress and drafted the Articles of Confederation which was a single branch of government that had limited powers to protect the liberties of the people. The Articles of Confederation seemed to work at first but as time passed, its weaknesses showed. The Articles of Confederation was weak because most power was held by the states and the federal government did not have the power to raise money with taxes causing economic problems. One weakness of the Articles of Confederation was that most power was held by the states. Under the Articles of Confederation, the federal government could not force states to provide soldiers for an army. According to the article The Constitution: An Enduring Document it states In such critical matters as defense, public finance and trade, the federal government was at the mercy of the state legislatures. The national government found it hard to protect its citizens with a lack of military defense. The states did not supply the national government with men to form an army which left the American people open for attack. Not having a strong military also broke trade with Spain. Critics at the time believed that Spain might have continued to negotiate if the United States had possessed a strong military. The national government also could not enforce tariffs or force the states to pass tariffs. Britain forced American merchants to pay high tariffs on goods which would make the item more expensive

then it would originally be. According to the book United States History and New York History: Beginnings to 1877 by William Deverell and Deborah Gray White, it states that British merchants could sell manufactured products in the United States at much lower prices than locally made goods. Because of the tariffs, American merchants had to pay high tariffs to sell goods in Britain while British goods could be sold at a lower price than locally made goods. This unbalance in trade gave Britain a stronger government while weakening Americas and it could not be fixed because the national government had no power over the states. Another weakness of the Articles of Confederation was that the federal government could not raise money. The federal government was not allowed to collect taxes from the people and also could not force the states to tax their people. According to Articles of Confederation, The Congress was responsible for conducting foreign affairs, declaring war or peace, maintaining an army and navy and a variety of other lesser functions. But the Articles denied Congress the power to collect taxes, regulate interstate commerce and enforce laws. The federal government could not ask the states for money. According to Articles of Confederation, the states were only required to contribute to the countrys common expenses. Already being in debt from the Revolutionary War, the states would not give the government excess money for other needs. To pay for the war debt, the states had to come up with their own laws to try to pay off the debt. Many states chose to keep printing money which caused inflation which is when prices for goods and services rise which reduces the value of money. Congress could not stop the states from issuing more paper money and so they could not stop inflation. Massachusetts chose to raise money by collecting taxes on land. Many people could not pay these taxes and ended up selling their property, going to jail, or sold their labor. Many farmers began to rebel such as Daniel Shays. The national government could not put down the Shays Rebellion when

Massachusetts asked for help which led many people to start asking for a new government. Not being able to raise money, the war debt was harder to pay off. The Articles of Confederation proved to be a weak government. Under the Articles of Confederation, most power was held by the states and the national government did not have the power to raise money because it could not tax the people or require the states to enforce taxes. These weaknesses caused the United States to have a weak economy. Not having enough power, the national government was not able to do many things such as providing a military. Paying off the war debt from the American Revolutionary War was also made much harder.

Bibliography
"Articles of Confederation." Articles of Confederation. N.p., 30 Apr. 2004. Web. 12 Feb.
2014.

"The Constitution: An Enduring Document." The Constitution: An Enduring Document.


IIP Digital, 05 Dec. 2013. Web. 12 Feb. 2014.

Deverell, William, and Deborah G. White. "The Articles of Confederation & The New
Nation Faces Challenges." United States History: And New York History, Beginnings to 1877. Austin, TX: Holt McDougal, 2009. 152-62. Print.