Benefits of the Articles of Confederation

Benefits of the Articles of Confederation

A Chapter by Debbie Barry

An essay, written for HIS 303: The American Constitution.


Benefits of the Articles of Confederation



"The Articles [of Confederation] created a type of government called a confederation ... [which] derives all of its powers directly from the states" (O'Connor and Sabato, 2008, p. 39).  The Articles paved the way for the later creation of the United States Constitution, and gave structure to the early government of the United States.

Although it is common to hear about the drawbacks of the Articles, there were a few benefits for the new country in the provisions of the Articles.  One of the most significant benefits was that "[i]t allowed a large number of people of divergent backgrounds and circumstances to live together with a minimum of internal strife for eleven years of transition from being subjects of a monarch to becoming self-governing free men" (Emory, 1993, para. 1).  The Articles set down a system of rules for the interaction, governance, and defense of the new states, while at the same time maintaining the sovereignty of each state.  They provided for the states to work together

[F]or their common defense, the security of their liberties, and their mutual and general welfare, binding themselves to assist each other, against all force offered to, or attacks made upon them, or any of them, on account of religion, sovereignty, trade, or any other pretense whatever.  (Articles of Confederation, 1781, Article II)

This gave the new country the chance it needed to grow and develop the more lasting set of rules, the U.S. Constitution, under which we live today.

The Articles "required a supermajority for action ... [which] made it harder for Congress to trample citizens' rights" (Emory, 1993, para, 4).  Article IX of the Articles set up a "Committee of the States" (Articles of Confederation, 1781, Article IX), which functioned much like a Senate, with the committee members having limited terms, so that the members of Congress did not have to be permanent, professional politicians, and could "thereby remain citizen legislators" (Emory, 1993, para. 5).

The Articles provided for legal actions in any of the States to be equally binding in all of the States, so a person could not escape the law by moving to another State, and marriages, inheritances, etc., would remain valid if a citizen moved between States.  Had this not been so, a man might have been able to have a wife under the laws of one state, and to have a different wife under the laws of another State.

The Articles also required that no delegate to Congress "be capable of holding any office under the United States, for which he, or another for his benefit, receives any salary, fees or emolument of any kind" (Articles of Confederation, 1781, Article V).  This requirement reduced the possibility of delegates having special interests in particular areas of government that might affect their decisions in Congress.

Article VIII provided for all taxes to be "laid and levied by the authority and direction of the legislatures of the several States" (Articles of Confederation, 1781, Article VIII), so that the government was not able to directly tax the populace.  After the excessive taxation the Colonists had experienced under British rule, this was certainly a reassuring measure of law for the citizens of the new United States.



Articles of Confederation.  (1781, March 1).  Retrieved February 9, 2010, from 

Emory, B.Y.  (1993, October).  An analysis of the Articles of Confederation as a model for    the institutions of freedom.  Retrieved February 9, 2010, from 

O'Connor, K. and Sabato, L.J.  (2008).  American government: Continuity and change, 2008     Edition.  New York
: Pearson-

© 2017 Debbie Barry

Author's Note

Debbie Barry
Initial reactions and constructive criticism welcome.

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Added on November 10, 2017
Last Updated on November 10, 2017
Tags: essay, American history, articles of confederation, benefits

A Journey through My College Papers


Debbie Barry
Debbie Barry

Clarkston, MI

I live with my husband in southeastern Michigan with our two cats, Mister and Goblin. We enjoy exploring history through French and Indian War re-enactment and through medieval re-enactment in the So.. more..