The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, which are commonly known simply as the Articles of Confederation, was the first constitution of the United States. Created in 1777 and ratified in 1781, it was an agreement between the thirteen original states that created a structure on how the new country would be governed and gave it a chance to achieve full-fledged independence. The Articles of Confederation definitely wasn’t perfect — in fact, it had a lot of flaws — but it established guidelines that helped the nation rise up on its feet.
Articles of Confederation Strengths
A lot of people don’t really think highly of the Articles of Confederation because they were wrought with flaws. But it’s important to point out that the agreement had noble goals (although it didn’t achieve all of them). Here are some of the strengths of the Articles of Confederation:
1. It allowed the country to have some form of government.
When the American colonies became free from the British Empire, the people didn’t have anyone to govern them and ensure the country stays on a smooth and stable course. The Articles of Confederation solved this for them by putting the Congress in power and giving it the authority to make the best possible decisions for the new nation.
2. It promoted trade and travel.
Freedom of movement wasn’t always possible when America was under the control of the British. This changed, though, when the Articles of Confederation was put into place. People (except for criminals) were allowed to travel throughout the 13 states to travel and/or trade with other people, giving them the chance to seek a better life for themselves.
3. It gave the U.S. a place in the world.
The Articles of Confederation was a formal declaration of independence that other countries couldn’t possibly ignore. It forced other nations to see the U.S. as a country that could stand on its own and even as a reliable trading partner.
Articles of Confederation Weaknesses
As mentioned above, many historians and scholars look down on the Articles of Confederation because it came with several weaknesses. For them, the fact that the Articles was replaced with another constitution was enough proof that it was not as strong and useful as it should have been. Some of its flaws include the following:
1. It didn’t have a tax base.
The Articles of Confederation didn’t give the Congress the power to collect taxes. The government had to request individual states to submit taxes, but the citizens ignored the requests mainly because they were not strictly enforced. As a result, the country had no money to repay its debts (both on a state and national level) and no funds to support the growth of the nation.
2. It didn’t promote a good military program.
Instead of unifying the country’s military forces, the Articles of Confederation allowed each state to have its own militia. As a result, soldiers didn’t receive enough training and weren’t given the supplies and equipment they needed to do a good job.
The Articles of Confederation had a few strengths. Unfortunately, its weakness left it unable to achieve its goals and protect the newly formed United States, which was why it had to be replaced with a stronger and more dependable constitution.