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The Articles of Confederation gave the Congress exclusive power over war and peace; coinage, weights and measures; the post office; and the appointment of land and naval forces. The Congress was responsible for foreign affairs and to a certain extent, for the regulation of interstate commerce. Each state retained its sovereignty, freedom and independence. The states actually controlled commerce and taxation. The Articles provided a definite beginning for national unity by promotion of the public sense of common citizenship.

However the Articles of Confederation suffered from several weaknesses. The Confederation had no courts of its own to enforce laws and had to rely on state courts to do this. Though the Congress could negotiate treaties, it could not force the state to adhere to them. Thus foreign nations refused to make treaties with the United States. The Congress had no power to regulate commerce, and above all, no independent power to levy and collect taxes. It could neither raise money nor pay debts. As the Congress had no independent source of revenue and no executive machinery to enforce its laws directly on individuals, it became a pawn of the states.


The Need for strengthening the national government led to a convention at Annapolis in September 1786. Here the delegates of five states got together to discuss trade relations between the states. However, this meet accomplished very little. Therefore, before being adjourned, it issued a call for a second meeting at Philadelphia with the only aim of revising the Articles of Confederation. It was agreed that these articles were powerless to deal with the chaotic social, political and economic conditions in the new states. Violent disturbances (such as Shay’s rebellion in Massachusetts in 1786) broke out in some of the states. In economic matters, the states behaved as though they were separate countries foreign to one another. A stronger national government was thus needed for the purpose of economic, social and national security. Therefore, a decision was made by the Congress to meet again in order to revise the Articles of Confederation.

Index

1.0 - Introduction
1.1 The Continental Congress
1.2 The Articles of Confederation
1.3 The Constitutional Convention
1.4 Key Concepts in the Constitution
1.5 Summary of the Constitution
1.6 The Debate over Ratification
1.7 The Amendment Process
1.8 The Bill of Rights
1.9 Subsequent Amendments (1789-1992)

Chapter 2





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