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Articles of Confederation Illustration

The American Revolution
for Kids

Articles of
Confederation

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The Articles of Confederation were written during the American Revolution. Ben Franklin wrote the first draft. It did not pass because the colonists thought it gave too much power to a central government. After a great deal of discussion and correction, the articles were rewritten and ratified in 1781. The ratified Articles stated that each state had one vote in a newly formed Congress. 

According to the Articles, Congress COULD:

  • Conduct foreign affairs

  • Make treaties

  • Declare war

  • Maintain an army and a navy

  • Coin money

  • Establish post offices

According to the Articles, Congress COULD NOT:

  • Could not elect a president of the central government.
  • Could not enforce laws. Congress could pass laws, but Congress could not force the states to obey those laws.
    Could not raise money by collecting taxes, not from the people, and not from the states. Without taxation, it was nearly impossible to run a government.

It was soon obvious that the Articles were too weak to create a functioning central government. In 1787, the Constitutional Convention met in Philadelphia. Two of its strongest supporters were Ben Franklin and George Washington. In 1779, a new document went into effect. They called it the Constitution.

The Articles of Confederation (Liberty's Kids, video, animated)

Ask Mr Donn - Articles Quiz

Articles of Confederation Quiz

Next Step: The Constitution of the United States