Why did the Articles of Confederation fail?

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mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There were several reasons why the government created by the Articles of Confederation failed. This plan of government was designed to create a weak federal government. This caused many problems.

There were financial problems. Because the federal government did not have the power to tax, it had trouble raising money. As a result, we had difficulty repaying our debts. When too much paper money was printed, inflation occurred.

We also had difficulty dealing with the aggressive actions of other countries toward us. Great Britain would not leave the western lands. Additionally, countries such as Spain and Great Britain interfered with our trade. Since the government could not force people to join the military, our military was very small. With little money available for supplies, our military was poorly equipped. As a result, we were in no position to fight against these countries that were causing problems for us.

The government created by the Articles of Confederation had other issues. Because there were no federal courts, the states had no place where they could resolve disputes. Additionally, it took nine of the thirteen states to pass a law and thirteen of the thirteen states to change the Articles of Confederation. Finally, Shays’ Rebellion showed that, at times, the federal government had trouble keeping order.

Eventually, a decision was made to attempt to write a new plan of government. The Constitution was eventually created and adopted.

martinjmurphy eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Articles of Confederation failed because they did not give Congress and the national government enough power.  The new United States just fought a war to end what they considered tyrannical rule of a strong government that overpowered local government and the leaders of the U.S. feared a powerful central government.  Because of this, they did not give the central government the power it needed to rule effectively.  The Articles did not give Congress the power to tax, so the government ended up printing money which caused inflation. The Articles did not give Congress the power to draft troops, so the U.S. military was small leaving the U.S. weak.  Congress did not have the power to control interstate commerce or stop states from printing their own money, causing economic chaos within the U.S. The Articles did not give Congress the power to place tariffs on foreign goods, hurting American businesses that could not compete with cheaper British goods. The U.S. government had no chief executive so there was no one to enforce the laws that were passed.  The list can go on. With the rebellion led by Daniel Shays in Massachusetts, the leaders of the U.S. realized the Articles were not working which led to the Constitutional Convention where the Articles were abandoned and the new U.S. Constitution was written, which addressed many of the problems found with the Articles.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

They failed because they did not manage to convince the elites of society that their interests would be protected by the sorts of governments that sprang up under the Articles.

During the time that the US was under the Articles, there were various kinds of economic problems.  The state governments' responses to the problems (spurred by the demands of the common people who were being hurt most by the problems) hurt the interests of the elites.  They also convinced the elites that the nation would not be able to prosper economically under the sorts of governments that would take those steps.  (Follow the link to see what the economic problems and the states' responses to those problems were.)

So, the Articles failed because the elites who took the most interest in government felt that the governments were acting in ways that were bad for A) the interests of the elites and B) the long-term interests of the country as a whole.

Yojana_Thapa | Student

Articles of Confederation was the nations first constitution, was adopted by the second continental congress in 1781during the revolution. the document was limited because states held most of the power, and congress lacked the power to tax, regulate trade, or control coinage confederation establishes ineffective government. Congress couldn’t tax, they could only ask for money, Their was no executive branch!

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