The Articles of Confederation were the United States’ first constitution, passed by the Second Continental Congress in 1777 and approved by all 13 states in 1781.
The Articles of Confederation formed a loose alliance of states in which the central government had little power and local states retained the majority of their autonomy.
Under the Articles of Confederation, the government was comprised of a single legislative body, the Continental Congress, which had the authority to make decisions on behalf of the states but lacked the authority to implement them.
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The Articles also established a system of diplomacy with foreign nations and Indian tribes, a currency and coinage system, and a system of military alliances among states.
Despite their strengths, the Articles of Confederation eventually proved insufficient in coping with the nation’s developing economic and political issues, prompting their replacement with the current United States Constitution in 1787.
What Were the Strength of the Articles of Confederation?
1. They Allowed for Mutual Protection Against Foreign Threats
One of the Articles of Confederation’s key strengths was that it established a unified government for the thirteen colonies and allowed for mutual protection against foreign threats.
The Continental Congress, as the Articles of Confederation’s legislative body, had the authority to make decisions on behalf of the states and to coordinate their actions in matters of defense and foreign affairs.
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This aided in establishing a sense of solidarity among the colonies and presenting a united front to foreign powers.
Furthermore, the Articles of Confederation established a system of military alliances among nations, allowing them to come to each other’s aid in the event of an assault.
This contributed to ensuring that individual colonies would not have to face military challenges on their own.
2. Permitted the settlement of western areas and established a procedure for the admission of new states into the Union
Another advantage of the Articles of Confederation was that they established a procedure for settling western areas and adding new states to the Union.
The Articles of Confederation empowered the Continental Congress to manage and dispose of the vast western regions, allowing them to make judgments about how to allocate and govern these lands.
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This was significant because it allowed the United States to grow and new states to be formed. The Articles of Confederation also established the process for admitting new states, stating that any region conquered by Congress and meeting the demographic requirements could apply to become a state.
This procedure aided in ensuring that new states could join the Union in a legal and orderly way.
3. Individual state sovereignty was protected, and the central government’s influence was restrained.
One of the Articles of Confederation’s key merits was that it safeguarded the sovereignty of individual states while limiting the power of the central government.
The Articles of Confederation established a form of government in which the central government has limited power and the states retain the majority of their autonomy. Many states were wary of a strong central authority following their experience with British control, thus this appealed to them.
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The central government was only given particular powers by the states under the Articles, such as the authority to conduct international affairs and control the western territories.
All other matters, like as taxes and the administration of justice, remained in the hands of the states. This helped to ensure that the central government did not become overly powerful and did not intrude on state rights.
4. The Articles of Confederation provided a legal framework for the conduct of business and commerce between the states.
The purpose of the Articles of Confederation was to provide a legal framework for the conduct of business and commerce among the states.
The Articles established a system of free trade among the states, which meant that governments could not impose tariffs or other barriers on products exchanged among them.
This aided economic progress by ensuring that states could profit from each other’s resources and businesses.
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Furthermore, the Articles empowered the Continental Congress to control commerce with foreign nations, allowing for a more organized and effective international trade policy.
This contributed to ensuring that American merchants and traders were not at a competitive disadvantage in the global market.
Furthermore, the Congress had the authority to settle conflicts between states concerning trade and commercial matters. This contributed to the states’ ability to handle any issues that arose in a peaceful and constitutional manner.
5. The Articles of Confederation created a system of diplomacy with foreign nations and Indian tribes.
The Articles of Confederation empowered the Continental Congress to handle foreign relations on behalf of the states, including the authority to create treaties and alliances, receive ambassadors and other public ministers, and negotiate with foreign powers.
This helped to ensure that the United States could show a unified face to the rest of the world and negotiate commercial and diplomatic issues with other countries.
The Articles also provided Congress the authority to control ties with Indian tribes, which was significant because Native American countries occupied many of the western areas.
This provided the United States with a formal and organized method of dealing with tribes and negotiating treaties with them. This aided in ensuring that the US could coexist peacefully with the tribes and avoid wars.
6. The Articles of Confederation created a system of currency and coinage for the states to use.
The Articles of Confederation granted the Continental Congress the authority to regulate the value of money, which was critical because the states had been using their own currencies and were experiencing problems with inflation and currency devaluation.
The Congress was given the authority to borrow money on the credit of the United States, coin money and regulate its value, and establish a standard of weights and measures.
This contributed to economic stability by providing a standardized currency for states to utilize, making it easier for businesses to perform transactions and for consumers to exchange goods and services. The Congress was also given the authority to control coin ages, which served to ensure that the states had a regular and trustworthy supply of coins to utilize.
By providing a trustworthy and standard means of exchange, this aided in the facilitation of trade and commerce between states and with other nations.
Overall, adopting a system of money and coinage for the nations to use aided economic stability and prosperity while also making it easier for the states to transact commerce with one another and with other countries.
7. Facilitated communication and cooperation between the states through the Continental Congress.
The Continental Congress was the legislative body formed by the Articles of Confederation, and it functioned as a venue for the states to meet and address critical issues confronting the country.
The Congress had the authority to make decisions on behalf of the states, and it was crucial in coordinating state operations in areas such as military, international relations, and trade.
This aided in ensuring that the states could collaborate toward common goals and make decisions that were in the best interests of the entire country.
Additionally, the Congress made it possible for states to communicate with one another by providing a forum for them to address their concerns and share information.
This aided in promoting cooperation and understanding among the states and ensuring that the states could work together to handle the nation’s concerns.
8. Allowed states to settle boundary disputes between them.
The Articles of Confederation empowered the Continental Congress to settle conflicts between states, including border issues. This contributed to ensuring that any disagreements between states could be addressed peacefully and constitutionally, rather than through armed confrontation.
The Congress had the authority to settle the disputes, and its decision was final and binding. This contributed to the maintenance of peace and stability among the states, as well as the prevention of war escalation.
This also contributed to the states’ ability to handle conflicts over land and resources in an orderly and equitable manner, which was critical for the nation’s development and expansion.
9. Provided a system of postal service to connect the states.
The Articles of Confederation empowered the Continental Congress to establish a mail service, which aided communication and trade between the states.
This was significant because, prior to the development of a postal service, each states had their own postal systems, making it difficult and expensive to carry letters across states.
It became easier to send mail and packages across states after the development of a national postal service, which aided in the promotion of business, trade, and communication.
The Congress also had the authority to control the mail service, which contributed to its efficiency and dependability. This eased the movement of information, ideas, and commerce across states, which helped to foster national unity and boost national progress.
10. The Articles provided for mutual defense among the states
The Articles of Confederation called for mutual defense among the states, which meant that the states were committed to come to each other’s aid in the event of an assault by a foreign power.
By uniting their resources and military power, the states were able to protect themselves against external threats.
The Congress had the authority to mobilize state militias, crush insurgencies, and repel invasions, which served to ensure that states could respond promptly to attacks and defend the nation.
Furthermore, the Congress had the authority to raise and support armies, which contributed to the United States having a standing army that could be deployed to defend the country.
This military alliance system contributed to the safety and security of states by offering a united front against external threats and a defense mechanism in the event of an attack.