The Articles of Confederation (1777–1789), the first form of government adopted by the United States after the Declaration of Independence, was an ineffective form of government that nearly prevented the Americans from winning the Revolutionary War.
The “great and radical vice” of the Articles of Confederation, according to The Federalist Papers, was the inability of the federal government to make laws that applied directly to citizens. Under the Articles of Confederation, America was a loose confederation of independent sovereign states, rather than a true union. This meant that the laws of the national government were mere recommendations that states (and citizens) were free to ignore.
Under the Articles of Confederation, Congress was unable to raise revenue or establish an army for defense, each state had its own currency, there was no effective national administration, states erected barriers to commerce, and it was difficult for the nation to conduct a consistent foreign policy.
Any kind of government which cannot make binding laws is bound to fail, and the Articles of Confederation was no exception. Thus the Constitution with its new understanding of federalism was needed to create “a more perfect Union.”
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