The Articles of Confederation

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What was the reasoning behind the colonists creating a weak central government?

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The leaders of the new American nation were wary of creating a system of government reminiscent of what they had seen under the colonial rule of England. The colonists had felt betrayed by their "mother" country. Taxes, especially after the French-Indian War, became more numerous and punitive in nature. They had seen first hand the power wielded by a monarch and were dead set on not yielding to an oppressive government again.

Under that backdrop, the first written plan of government was created. The Articles of Confederation were designed to give a majority of power to the individual states instead of a central government. As a result, many problems quickly rose to the surface.

Without sufficient power in the central government, Congress was unable to pass any measures of importance. Actually getting a law passed required 9 of the 13 states to be in agreement. To complicate matters further, the Articles allowed for no executive branch to ensure new laws would be carried out. Laws that were created would not be interpreted or upheld by a judicial branch, as that branch was non-existent as well.

Correcting any problems in the document was next to impossible, as amending the Articles of Confederation required a unanimous vote. Finances were a major problem under the Articles. Congress was given no power to collect tax and could only request money from the individual states.

Fear of being under the oppressive rule of a strong, central government drove early Americans to make a plan to govern themselves that had virtually no chance of success. This period in American history is known as "The...

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