What were three problems with the Articles of Confederation?

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

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Our first plan of government was called the Articles of Confederation. It had several weaknesses. One of the weaknesses was that the federal government was designed to be a weak one. We were afraid of having a strong federal government because of our experiences while colonies of Great Britain. We didn’t want a leader or the government to have too much power so various restrictions were put in place. This led to significant issues for our country.

Another problem was financial. Because Congress couldn’t tax, it was difficult for the government to raise money. As a result, we had a hard time paying our debts to other countries. There also was no unified currency. Each state and the federal government printed money. This led to inflation, and people had a hard time trusting any of the paper money that was issued.

A third problem was dealing with foreign affairs. Other countries were pushing us around. Since we couldn’t make people join the military, it was hard to maintain an army to respond to these problems. Also, we didn’t have much money to pay soldiers and get equipment. Thus, we were limited in how we could respond to other countries when they interfered with our trade or encouraged Native Americans to attack us.

Because we couldn’t require people to join the army, it also led to issues at home. When farmers in western Massachusetts revolted in Shays’ rebellion, the federal government didn’t step in to end the rebellion. Because of these problems, a new plan of government was needed. This led to the writing of the Constitution.

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