The Articles of Confederation


Civics Foundations of American Government The Articles of Confederation
Students learn about the Articles of Confederation. They discover when and why they were written and the structure and powers of the government they established. Then they explain the strengths and weaknesses of the Articles. Finally, they examine the impact the Articles of the Confederation had on the writing of the U.S. Constitution.

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Overview

In this experience, students learn about the Articles of Confederation. They discover when and why they were written and the structure and powers of the government they established. Then they explain the strengths and weaknesses of the Articles. Finally, they examine the impact the Articles of the Confederation had on the writing of the U.S. Constitution.

Objectives

  • Identify the strengths and weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation.
  • Explain the impact the Articles of Confederation had on the drafting of the U.S. Constitution.


Before and during the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress—made up of delegates from the thirteen colonies—discussed and decided issues that affected all of the colonies. In 1776, the Continental Congress declared America’s independence from Great Britain. Then in 1781, while the war was still being fought, they ratified the Articles of Confederation, which is considered the nation’s first constitution (a detailed, written plan for government) because it sets up the first national government.

In this experience, you will learn about the Articles of Confederation. You’ll discover when and why they were written, the structure and powers of the government they established, achievements and weaknesses of the government, and why there was a popular call to change them.

Objectives

  • Identify the strengths and weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation.
  • Explain the impact the Articles of Confederation had on the drafting of the U.S. Constitution.




Articles of the Confederation


The official title of the document is Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union between the States of… and then a list of the original thirteen states.



The Continental Congress proposed the Articles of Confederation in 1777, but they were not ratified until 1781. Why do you think some delegates supported a national constitution at this time? Why do you think some delegates objected to the constitution?






Delegates supported the constitution because they needed a national government to declare, organize, and support the war effort. But others objected to a national government because they did not want a powerful central government that would take away states’ rights. They were afraid that a central government could be as tyrannical as the British rule they were fighting.


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