The Articles of Confederation created a nation that was "a league of friendship and perpetual union,” but the state governments had most of the power under the Articles, with little power given to the central government. Congress, for example, had to rely on the states for its funds and to carry out its official orders. Because of this, the central government could not accomplish much because it had limited authority over states or individuals in America.

The following were challenges in governing the new nation under the Articles of Confederation:

  • Congress (the central government) was made up of delegates chosen by the states and could conduct foreign affairs, make treaties, declare war, maintain an army and a navy, coin money, and establish post offices. However, measures passed by Congress had to be approved by nine of the 13 states.
  • Congress was limited in its powers. It could not raise money by collecting taxes and had no control over foreign commerce; it could pass laws but could not force the states to comply with them. The government was dependent on the cooperation of the various states to carry out its measures.
  • The articles were nearly impossible to change, so problems could not be corrected.

In the words of George Washington, the government created by the Articles of the Confederation was "little more than a shadow without the substance." There was clearly a need for a stronger central government, so leaders from throughout the newly formed states met at the Constitutional Convention in 1787 to address that issue, and the Constitution of the United States of America was drafted to replace the Articles of Confederation.