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Why Did the Articles of Confederation Fail?

2 min readoctober 23, 2020


Fatima Raja

AP US Government 🏛️

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Background of the Articles of Confederation 📃

  • Within the new nation there was a need for organization.
  • The American people feared a national government due to troubles with the British Monarchy, so there was a struggle to determine how much power should be given away. 
  • The 13 colonies needed to find common ground in order to be prosperous. 
  • The Continental Congress had incurred debts to fight the Revolutionary War.
  • Ultimately, the Articles of Confederation failed. Learn why they failed and how it relates to Shay's Rebellion.
Check out this detailed 🎥 video replay on the Articles of Confederation!


Reasons Why the Articles of Confederation Failed 🚫  

Ultimately, the Articles of Confederation failed because they were crafted to keep the national government as weak as possible:
  • There was no power to enforce laws
  • No judicial branch or national courts
  • Amendments needed to have a unanimous vote 
The combination of these factors made it impossible to be able to run a successful new nation. Each colony viewed their needs to be more important than the common good of the nation, and people were much more loyal to their individual states. The Continental Congress had borrowed money to fight the Revolutionary War and could not repay their debts, nor could they enforce a tax, as illustrated by Shay's Rebellion.

Downfall of the Articles of Confederation: Shays' Rebellion

  • A group of Massachusetts farmers  were outraged by the increased efforts by the state government to collect taxes. 
  • They performed a series of violent attacks on government properties. 
  • The national government was unable to extinguish the rebellion. 
  • This proved that the Articles did not have the power needed to run the country successfully. 
Want to learn more? Watch this 🎥 video on the debate about the Constitution and check out Fiveable's Online Full AP US Government Course!


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