The Critical Period (1781-1787)
Government Under the Articles
of Confederation
Unit 2: Building a Nation
Forming New Governments
• After the war we had two tasks: 1) Restructuring
colonial governments and 2) Forming a national
• Major Influences: 1215-Magna Carta
(Parliament), 1689-English Bill of Rights (Limited
Government), the Enlightenment, the Mayflower
Compact, English and Colonial Tradition, Greek
and Roman ideals, and Judeo-Christian traditions
• We had to create states 1st, then a United States.
Which task was more difficult?
The Articles of Confederation
• Written in 1777 and adopted in 1781 – the 13
United States adopted their first constitutionThe Articles of Confederation based on
powers of old Continental Congress.
• It created a “Firm League of Friendship” with a
weak national government. Like an alliance.
• The 13 states held the real power to govern.
• The powers granted to the federal gov’t were
• It only lasted for 6 years (1781 – 1787).
Why the Articles Failed?
• Couldn’t regulate trade among
• Disputes among states over land
(ultimately N.W. Ordinance would
be only real success for Congress)
• Couldn’t impose tariffs
• Couldn’t tax states
• States coined their money
• No President
• Each state = 1 Vote
• 3/4 vote to pass laws (9/13
• Amendment = Unanimous Vote
Land Disputes Between States (1783)
The Straw That Broke the Camel’s Back!
• Captain Daniel Shays’ Rebellion
-(1786) Massachusetts
• 1780’s Depression – Farmers
couldn’t pay their debts
• MA govt’t determined to
impose taxes to pay state’s
• 1200 farmers shut down the
courts & took up arms to stop
• Massachusetts sent the militia
to suppress the rebellion.
As a result, many Americans were convinced
that the U.S. needed a new government!
Exit Slip: The Critical Period
1. What was the name of the first government
of the United States of America?
2. How did the Enlightenment help influence
American beliefs about government?
3. Name one weakness of the new government
that led to its failure?
4. His rebellion helped convince the founding
fathers that a new government was needed?

The Critical Period (Articles of Confederation)