The Articles of Confederation were the first U.S. constitution that was submitted to the states for immediate consideration on November 17, 1777. Unfortunately, there were many more weaknesses than strengths of the Articles of Confederation, and it was replaced within a decade. The main flaw was that the central government was designed to be very weak, making it difficult to collect taxes for its operations. Also, since the Congress needed nine of the thirteen states’ approval to pass any law, the document was almost impossible to change.
The problems with the Articles of Confederation started from the beginning. It took until February 1779 for the states to approve the document. As mentioned before, the document created a central government that was weak and lacked an executive official and a judicial branch. Each state had only one vote, and the Congress had only one chamber, enabling the states to operate independently from the central government. The Congress needed the approval of nine of thirteen states to adopt a law; hence, it was very difficult to pass any legislation. Additionally, the Articles of Confederation were almost impossible to amend because all thirteen states had to agree on any change.
Under the Articles of Confederation, the central government was too weak to collect taxes to fund its operations. The government relied on voluntary tax money collected by the states, which was minimal. Each state had its own currency and internal regulations, so successful trading between the states was challenging. Since there were no taxes and no common currency, the government could not pay its debts to European nations. Thus, by 1787, the United States had sunk into an economic disaster. Furthermore, Shays’ rebellion, a tax protest by farmers in Massachusetts in 1786 and 1787, proved that the central government was not able to deal with riots.