The Articles of Confederation

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Text of the Articles
Articles of Confederation vs. Constitution

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Part 2: The Power of the States

This distrust of the power of the government made for very weak colonial governments. And as the war went on, the Americans realized that they needed some form of central government to deal with things like paying soldiers and negotiating with other countries. The result was the Articles of Confederation.

Approved in 1777, the Articles established a Confederation government, which was a fancy way of saying that the central government didn't have a whole lot of power. The national legislature was the Confederation Congress. Each state could send from two to seven delegates, but each state also had only one vote. Even if New York sent seven delegates, they all together had only one vote. (So they had to agree on what they were voting for or against.)

Any important decision had to be approved by 9 of the 13 states. This included laws, treaties, and payment for soldiers. Here is a breakdown of the powers granted and denied the Confederation government:

Powers Granted
Power Denied

declare war and make peace

executive branch

maintain an army and navy

raising taxes

make treaties with other countries

stop states from printing their own money

borrow money

regulate trade with other countries or between states

establish a postal service

court system

Next page > The First National Government > Page 1, 2, 3

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David White