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Under the Articles of Confederation, the US national government essentially consisted of the Continental Congress and nothing else. The Congress was responsible for all decision and for carrying out those decisions. There was essentially no executive branch.
Unlike our modern Congress, the Continental Congress did not have two houses. Instead, it was unicameral.
Congress had the right to make a national currency. It had the power to raise an army and it had the power to make treaties. However, it did not have the power to tax.
This (along with the fact that the Congress could not force states to do anything) is why this was a confederacy -- that is a form of government where the states have essentially all the power and they decide how much power to allow to the national government.
Here is a video about the Articles of Confederation:
Under the Articles of Confederation the delegates met to establish a system of government that would be long lasting and address the needs of the new country. The delegates feared abuse of government power and felt that it needed to have a system of monitoring and no place too much power in the hands of any one person.
The Articles of Confederation were initially modeled after the Magna Carta. The people who held the proposed power under the Article's were the Continental Congress. They ahd the power to call committees and establish them if necessary. The problem was that they did not really have an effective way to create unity among the states or to enforce laws. They knew that changes would have to be made.
The Articles also addressed that the states could not send out warships or make claim to war without the approval of the Congress.
Articles of Confederation created a weak national government with most of the governmental powers retained by the states. The Articles provided no separation of branches. There was no president or any other independent executive, nor was there a federal judicial branch. Congress, the legislature, was the only branch of government. Members elected to congress did not vote as individuals, but as states. While congress did have some powers, it could not enforce its laws on the states or the people. The Continental Congress could coin money, but so could the states, and they didn’t have to ask the Congress for permission. Hence, there was no unified monetary system. There was no regulation of commerce between the states and states could even enter into treaties with foreign nations and declare war, "with the consent of Congress." Congress could not tax the states or the people. . The only ways in which it could raise money were by requisitioning the states—the same way in which it raised troops, by borrowing, by selling public lands, and by printing more money. In the Articles of Confederation, the Continental Congress had only five basic responsibilities: to conduct foreign affairs by negotiating treaties and by making war and peace, to control Indian affairs, to set standards of coinage, weights, and measures, to settle disputes among the states, and to conduct a postal service.
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