Reference on the Central Government: Articles of Confederation Compared to the Constitution

The left column shows common things that governments do. The two variations in the history of our nation are:

        The central government, such as a government that must deal with other nations

        State govenments, such as the governments of Massachusetts or Virginia


The two columns on the right show whether the responsibility is assigned to the central government (not to individual states)

        With the Articles of Confederation

        With the Constitution.


If you compare carefully, you can see why the Articles of Confederation will fail to protect the citizens.


Governmental Responsibilities

Articles of Confederation and Its Failures


Responsible to conduct foreign affairs

Yes Congress.


Failure: Jay-Gardoqui Treaty

Yes Executive with Congressional approval


Responsible to declare war and peace

Yes Congress

Yes Congress


Able to coin money


Yes Congress


Able to levy taxes



Failure: impost duties amendment

Yes Congress


Able to raise troops


Yes Congress


Able to regulate commerce



Failure: No commercial treaty with Britain

Yes Congress


Method to change the system

All 13 state legislatures must agree.

Amendment process


2/3 to propose Congress or by convention

3/4 to ratify conventions or state legislatures


Method to write laws

9 votes (1 vote per state)

Majority of House and Senate




Copyright C. J. Bibus, Ed.D. 2003-2020


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History Dr. Bibus

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