What are three weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation? How did the Constitution overcome these weaknesses?  

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mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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There were several weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation. One was that the government created by the Articles of Confederation was a very weak government. There was a huge concern about having a government with too much power. This was based on our experiences as colonies of Great Britain. Thus, the Articles of Confederation limited the power of the government. This caused several problems for our new government.

Another problem dealt with finances. Since the government couldn’t tax, it was hard for us to pay our debts to other countries. There also was no unified currency. Both the state governments and the federal government issued money. As a result, inflation occurred, and people had little faith in the value of the paper money.

A third problem involved dealing with other countries that were attempting to push us around. Under the plan created by the Articles of Confederation, the government couldn’t make people join the military. Thus, when Great Britain and Spain interfered with our trade, there was very little we could do about it. Our military was too weak and had few soldiers and limited supplies. The same was true when Great Britain and Spain encouraged the Native Americans to attack us. There was very little we could do about this because of our weak, underfinanced military.

Under the new plan of government created by the Constitution, the federal government had more power. Congress had the ability to tax. This helped the government raise money and pay our debts. Congress was responsible for printing money. Congress also controlled trade. Both of these powers helped to control inflation and make the trade with other countries more orderly. Congress could also require people to join the military if needed. There was only one leader in charge of our country. That person was called the President, and the President had considerable power. However, to prevent any part of the government from becoming too powerful, a system of checks and balances was created. Also, each branch of government had a specific job to do. No branch could do it all on its own. By creating a stronger federal government, the Constitution helped solve some of the problems that existed under the Articles of Confederation.

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