Why did the Articles of Confederation fail?

3 Answers

martinjmurphy's profile pic

martinjmurphy | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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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's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

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's profile pic

Yojana_Thapa | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted on

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!