What Problems Arose Under the Articles of Confederation?

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The Articles of Confederation, the charter that established the first national government among the 13 American colonies, created an alliance of independent and sovereign states united under a central government with little real power. That fundamental flaw triggered several major problems for the emerging nation.

1 Military

Rather than creating a national military, the Articles left it to the individual militias in each state to provide a common defense for the nation. There was no consistent training or military conduct, and no national pool of funds to pay for soldiers and supplies.

2 Money

The Confederation had no power to tax citizens and raise money to support causes such as a national military. The states were supposed to collect taxes and contribute money when the national government requested it. However, the Confederation had no authority to enforce those requests for support, and they were frequently ignored.

3 Trade

Under the Articles, the states kept their rights to make their own trade laws and set their own tariffs. Competition among the states for international markets was fierce. The Confederation had no power to set international commerce laws that would promote economic growth and prosperity for the nation as a whole.

Laura Scott has been reporting for Gatehouse Media New England, Essex County Newspapers and other regional publishers since 1997. She won several New England Press Association awards for her coverage of the fishing industry and coastal communities. Scott is a graduate of Vassar College and has a master's degree in American studies from Boston College. She also attended art school in Italy.