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Origins of American Government
Guide: Articles of Confederation

These resources help explain the strengths and weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation. Use these resources to help students understand what the Articles of Confederation was and why it was eventually replaced with the U.S. Constitution. Use the Export to My Lists button above to turn this into a research list for your students.

Theme Key Understandings

  • Societies need government to promote harmony, reduce conflict, and increase economic productivity
  • Governments come in many forms, including rule by one, rule by a few, and rule by many
  • Philosophical thought often influences a society's form of government
  • New political systems are shaped by emulating and opposing older systems of government
  • Founding documents are a result of compromise and the direct experiences of those drafting them
  • Democratic governments derive their power from the consent of the governed
  • Protection of individual rights and liberties is central to American democracy
  • Democratic governments strike a balance between majority rule and minority rights

Key Questions

  • What are three specific weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation? How did each of these ultimately lead to the need for a new Constitution?
  • Do you think the United States could have been effectively governed under a unicameral congress like the one established by the Articles of Confederation? Why or why not?


  1. Overview: Articles of Confederation
  2. Outline: Outline
  3. Transcript: Transcript
  4. Lesson: Introduction
  5. Lesson: 1-Creation of the Articles of Confederation
  6. Lesson: 2-States under the Articles
  7. Lesson: 3-Congress under the Articles
  8. Lesson: 4-Successes and Failures of the Articles
  9. Lesson: Closing
  10. Photos & Illustrations: Continental Congress, Second: Congress Voting Independence (1788)
  11. Reference Articles: Annapolis Convention
  12. Reference Articles: Articles of Confederation: Taxation
  13. Reference Articles: Continental Congress, Second
  14. Reference Articles: Critical Period
  15. Reference Articles: Constitutional Convention
  16. Political Cartoons, Posters & Document Images: Articles of Confederation: leaflet (1777)
  17. Political, Government & Court Documents: Annapolis Convention: resolution calling (1786)
  18. Political, Government & Court Documents: Articles of Confederation (1781)
  19. Political, Government & Court Documents: Constitutional Convention: resolution calling (1787)
  20. Political, Government & Court Documents: Mason, George: "Objections to This Constitution of Government" article (1787)
  21. Political, Government & Court Documents: Northwest Ordinance (1787)

MLA Citation

"Articles of Confederation." History Hub, ABC-CLIO, 2020, historyhub.abc-clio.com/Support/Content/2156173?cid=256. Accessed 18 Feb. 2020.

Entry ID: 2156173

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