The Articles of Confederation

The Articles of Confederation was the first Constitution of the United States before the current Constitution went into effect on March 4, 1789. The Articles of Confederation were created by the Continental Congress, which first met in June 1776. It would take five years for Congress and then the states to approve the original Constitution.

The Articles of Confederation were created when the United States was in the midst of a war for independence with Great Britain. Because of that, the focus of the Founding Fathers was on rights for states and not on creating a big government that acted as a central authority for all Americans. They had experienced that when the original 13 colonies were ruled by the monarchy in England and escaping monarchy rule was the reason for the war. At that time, people were more loyal to their states than to their country. The Articles of Confederation gave more rights to the states out of fear of repeating a situation like the one the colonies had with England.

However, the lack of a strong central government caused problems for the new United States of America. The lack of a federal army and navy, the inability of the federal government to tax all its citizens, and each state having the ability to issue its own money and put a tariff on goods from other states were just some of the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation. The fact that the federal government had no authority to make states follow federal laws was probably the biggest problem, though, and it was not long before talk began of creating a new Constitution. James Madison is given credit for being the primary author of the Constitution of the United States, which was ratified in 1788.


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