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How did the Articles of Confederation shape the new American republic?

The Articles of Confederation shaped the new American republic by establishing a weak central government and strong state governments.

The Articles of Confederation, ratified in 1781, were the first constitution of the United States of America. They were drafted during the Revolutionary War, a time when the American colonies were wary of strong centralised power, having just fought a war to free themselves from the British monarchy. This wariness was reflected in the Articles, which created a confederation of 13 sovereign states, each with its own government. The central government was intentionally made weak, with limited powers.

The Articles of Confederation gave the central government the power to declare war, conduct foreign affairs, and resolve issues regarding the western territories. However, it had no power to levy taxes, regulate commerce, or enforce laws. These powers were retained by the state governments. This structure was a deliberate choice by the drafters of the Articles, who wanted to prevent the central government from becoming too powerful and potentially tyrannical.

However, this structure also created problems. The central government was dependent on the states for funding, which often led to financial instability. It also had no way to enforce its decisions, which led to disputes between states. Furthermore, the requirement for unanimous consent from all 13 states to amend the Articles made it nearly impossible to rectify these issues.

The weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation became apparent during the 1780s. The central government was unable to pay off the national debt from the Revolutionary War, leading to economic instability. Disputes between states over trade and territory also escalated, with the central government powerless to intervene. These problems led to calls for a stronger central government, culminating in the Constitutional Convention of 1787.

The Articles of Confederation had a significant impact on the shape of the new American republic. They established the principle of state sovereignty, which remains a key aspect of American federalism today. They also highlighted the problems of a weak central government, leading to the creation of a stronger federal government in the U.S. Constitution. Despite their flaws, the Articles of Confederation were a crucial step in the development of the United States as a republic.

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