HGov: Weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation


articles-of-confederation-strengths-and-weaknesses-sourceThe Articles of Confederation had weaknesses that placed the newly independent states at risk. The central government could not collect taxes, but states were expected to volunteer extra funds. Because the states were bankrupt, no national payment existed. A major flaw was the inability to create any needed amendments without a unanimous vote of all states. Congress could declare war, but it could raise an army only by requesting states to provide soldiers. Congress could coin money, but could not prevent states from also doing so. As a result, the country was flooded with many different currencies. Congress could negotiate tariffs with other countries, but so could each state. Congress could not prevent states from interfering with interstate commerce. In fact, states imposed trade barriers on one another. Members of Congress were elected yearly by state legislatures. Each state, no matter how large or small, was equally represented. A supermajority of 9 out of 13 states had to agree before action could be taken. Even if a super majority could agree on a policy, individual states ignored Congress’s wishes. There was no independent executive branch. A congressional Committee of the States could make decisions between meetings of Congress. However, 9 out of 13 delegates had to agree before the committee could take action. States exercised most judicial functions. Disputes between states were settled by a panel of judges selected by Congress. Congress could amend the Articles only with the approval of all state legislatures.

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