Why the Articles of Confederation Failed

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The Articles of Confederation, ratified March 1, 1781, were the first attempt at organized government in America. The individual states were given too much power, while the power of the central government was very minimal, leading to the near demise of the young country. An anonymous writer in the Norwich Packet proclaimed in 1786, “Each State at present possesses powers so totally independent of the others, that no general system can be adopted. They begin to find that a government with so many heads is a monster in politics” (Humphrey 2003, 109). Rather than working together as a nation for a common cause, states were working against each other. There was no revenue source from the states, and under the Articles of Confederation, there was no way to make states pay their share of the constantly growing national debt. One of the biggest sources of revenue, foreign and interstate commerce, was not being controlled nationally but was instead being controlled individually by the states. None of the profit went to the national debt. Currency was inconsistent and differed from state to state, passing laws or amending the Articles was near impossible, and lack of a three-tier political system meant that there was no authority above the state level. There is no doubt that some good things came out of the Articles of Confederation. It was a strong attempt for a young, wartime country, but in the end there were too many weaknesses. America needed a strong central government to survive, leading to the creation of the Constitution, which is still in use today ("To Form a More Perfect Union").
When the Articles of Confederation were in use, America was a young nation still recovering from a costly war. The central problem by the early 1780...

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... purposes of the Federal Union that we shall soon molder into dust…” wrote George Washington in 1783 (Humphrey 2003, 110). It was apparent to the country’s leaders that the Articles of Confederation had failed. The central government was far too weak and did not have enough power over the states to control even minor things. Without a source of revenue, a system of trade, or any kind of organization of the states, the country was failing. The Articles of Confederation lasted just over eight years, finally being replaced on March 4, 1789 (Henretta et al. 2010). Delegates had to come to a compromise between a weak and disorganized central government, and a strong one with limited but essential power. This led to the creation of the United States Constitution, which unlike the Articles of Confederation, has stood the test of time due to its strong central government.
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