The Articles of Confederation

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Text of the Articles
Articles of Confederation vs. Constitution

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Part 3: The First National Government

To us today, viewed through the looking glass of the Constitution, these look like trouble. How can a central government hope to survive if it can't raise taxes or doesn't even have a court system?

But to the American colonists of 1777, this was a giant step forward. They were willing to put some of their trust in the hands of a national government, but they also wanted the power to keep that government in check and even dissolve it, if they thought it was necessary.

Besides, they were in the middle of a war. It wasn't until 1781 that the Articles of Confederation was finally adopted. By that time, the Revolutionary War was almost over.

Despite what we today think are their glaring weaknesses, the Articles established the first national government for the new nation, the United States of America. In light of the terrible treatment the American people had received so very recently, this new government was a welcome sight indeed.

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