What part of the government did the Articles of Confederation weaken?

1 Answer
May 19, 2017

The Articles of Confederation weakened the government's power to tax the people and regulate foreign and interstate commerce.


After the American Revolution, people wanted to try something new-- in this case, *really * new. It's kind of like beginning to drive. Once you get your license, you really test how much freedom you have. The same goes for the colonists-- they wanted to test their limits. Therefore, they wrote the Articles of Confederation.

With that, we come to the two weaknesses: the government's inability to tax and regulate foreign and interstate commerce.

1) Because the government could not tax, only the states had the authority to tax and raise revenue. Therefore, the government had to ask the states for the funds. According to Article 8 of the Articles of Confederation, the funds "shall be supplied by the several States in proportion to the value of all land within each State." So, as you can see, everything was in the hands of the state legislatures.

Also, the money that was supposed to be given to the government was oftentimes not even given to the government. This was a total flaw in the Articles of Confederation because what could the government even do with no money to fund it? And what economic unity is there if each state makes up its own taxes? Basically, under the Articles, the government was pretty much helpless and the country was definitely not unified.

2) Moreover, under the Articles of Confederation, the government had no control over foreign or interstate commerce whatsoever. That being said, the government could only regulate commerce with Native American tribes, which is not much "power," seeing that their trade with the Native Americans was not a substantial amount.

So, if the government didn't have to right to regulate foreign and interstate commerce, that means that the states did. Basically, Virginia could start trading with England, New York could trade with the Netherlands, and Pennsylvania with Spain. The government could not do anything about it. Also, because of this, if Pennsylvania, let's say, got into a conflict with Spain, then Pennsylvania (by itself) could go to war with Spain. Furthermore, if Pennsylvania got into a problem with New York, there was no "referee" to sort out the problem because the government couldn't step in.

So these were the two main parts of the government that the Articles of Confederation weakened.