Weakness of the Articles of Confederation Resulting Problem

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Weakness of the Articles of Confederation

Resulting Problem

Constitutional Fix

Congress could not directly tax the people.

It had to rely on the states to collect and forward taxes, which the states were reluctant to do. The central government was always short of money.

Congress has the right to “lay and collect taxes, duties, imports and excises” (article I, Section 8)

Congress could not regulate commerce between the states or with other nations.

Each state was free to set up its own system of taxes on goods imported from other states. Economic quarrels among the states broke out. There was difficulty in trading with other nations.

Congress the right to regulate commerce with foreign nations, among the several states and with Indian tribes (Article I, Section 8)

Congress could not force the states to meet military quotas.

The central government could not draft soldiers to form a standing army and was dependent on states to contribute forces

Can raise an army to deal with military situations (Article I, Section 8)

Congress had only specifically delegated powers and had no power to enforce its laws.

The central government depended on the states to enforce its laws, which they rarely did.

Congress given expressed (article I, Section 8, Clauses 1-17) and implied powers (Article I, Section 8, Clause 18 [necessary and proper clause])

There was no executive branch.

No executive with power. Coordinating the work of the central government was almost impossible.

Executive branch headed by President who chooses Cabinet and has checks on power of judiciary and legislature (Article II)

There was no national judicial system.

No system of federal courts, federal laws enforced by state courts. Most disputes among the states could not be settled by the central government.

Court system created to deal with issues between citizens, states (Article III)

Nine states had to approve any

law before it was enacted

Most laws were difficult, if not impossible, to enact.

Simple majority (50% + 1) of both houses plus signature of President (Article I)

Any amendment to the Articles required all 13 states to consent.

The powers of the central government could not be changed in practice.

2/3 of both houses of Congress plus ¾ of state legislatures or national convention (Article V)

Representation of states

Each state received 1 vote regardless of size

Upper house (Senate) with 2 votes; lower house (House of Representatives) based on population (Article I, Sections 1 and 2)


Sovereignty resides in states; national government has only those powers given to it by the states

Constitution was established as the supreme law of the land (Article VI)

Weakness, Problem, Fix

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