History of the United States
US Constitution
Articles of Confederation

What were the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation?


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Some Weaknesses of the Articles

  • The Articles of Confederation gave too much power to the states and not enough to the central government. Essentially, they created a weak central government, under which the states could not operate effectively as a single nation.
  • The articles created no separate executive department to carry out and enforce the acts of Congress and no national court system to interpret the meaning of laws.
  • 9 out of the 13 states had to approve any major law before it was passed.
  • There was no standing army to protect the nation.
  • Each state could create its own foreign policy, including the passage of treaties.
  • Each state could create its own money and it might not be accepted in other states. The war left a huge debt, but the Articles didn't allow congress to collect taxes, only to ask for money from the states.
  • Under the Articles there was only a unicameral legislature so that there was no separation of powers.
  • The central government under the Articles was too weak since the majority of the power rested with the states.
  • In order to change or amend the Articles, unanimous approval of the states was required which essentially meant that changes to the Articles were impossible.
  • Under the Articles, Congress did not have the power to regulate commerce which would cause competition between states, as well as diplomatic issues.