The Articles of Confederation | Period 3: 1754-1800 | AP US History | Khan Academy
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The Articles of Confederation | Period 3: 1754-1800 | AP US History | Khan Academy


– [Instructor] Hey, this is
Kim and I’m here with Leah, Khan Academy’s US Government
and Politics Fellow. Welcome Leah. – [Leah] How’s it going? – [Kim] Alright, so we’re talking about the Articles of Confederation, which I think many people don’t realize was the first constitution
of the United States before the one that we
have now since 1789. So could you take us through a little bit what the Articles of Confederation were and the context in which
we first brought them on as a governmental system? – [Leah] Sure, so I think
the most important thing to understand about the
Articles of Confederation and why we would talk about this is because one of the
biggest debates that we have in our history is about
the balance of power between the federal government
and state governments. When the Articles of
Confederation were first created, it was in the middle of
the American Revolution. They were created in 1777,
and so the question becomes, well, how can we run a government that looks as different
from monarchy as possible? – [Kim] Right, so they’re
trying to run away from the past that they’re getting away
from in the Revolutionary War and trying to create a separate government that doesn’t have any of those abuses that they are rebelling against. – [Leah] If they’re running
away from a monarchy, what they’re running towards is what we would call limited government. – [Kim] OK. – [Leah] So their central government, which is synonymous with
a federal government, the central government is actually really, really, really small. – [Kim] OK. – [Leah] They don’t have
an executive branch. They only have Congress. They don’t even have a judicial branch. So Congress is made up of all 13 states. Every state had one representative. – [Kim] OK. – [Leah] In order to change
the Articles of Confederation, if they wanted to pass an amendment, they had to get unanimous
consent from all 13 states. – [Kim] OK, so they’re trying to make sure that all of the states
are represented equally, but that also sounds like it
would have a lot of hurdles to overcome when it comes
to getting consensus. – [Leah] Yeah, for laws,
you had to get nine out of 13 states to actually pass a law. So if you can imagine, if
you’re in a room of 13 people and you all have to agree
on one pizza topping for the rest of your lives.
(Kim laughs) It would be almost impossible, right? – [Kim] Wow, OK, alright,
so it sounds like there are some problems with
the Articles of Confederation, but did they do anything good
for us in this early period? – [Leah] Yeah, so the biggest thing is that it unites all 13
colonies who are now states under one government. – [Kim] OK. – [Leah] This government is able to pass a really favorable treaty with Britain and end the Revolutionary War
in 1783, the Treaty of Paris. – [Kim] OK, so this is
kind of the government that gets us through the revolutionary war and is with us when we
first start in the 1780s. – [Leah] Yeah, and one another
specific law that they pass is the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 and this Northwest
Ordinance kinda tells us how we are going to expand as we move west and what are we going
to do with that land, and that’s a really important idea when we’re moving
forward with our country. The only problem is with the
Articles of Confederation is there is a lot of things
that we still have to figure out as we’re growing, there’s
a lot of growing pains. – [Kim] So what led the early government of the United States to realize that they wanted to abandon
these Articles of Confederation in favor of a different constitution? – [Leah] So the inciting
incident is Shays’ Rebellion. It happens in Massachusets,
and it’s a group of farmers led by this guy named Daniel Shays. What’s happening is that
we had just gotten out of the Revolutionary War,
and a lot of of the people who had fought in the Revolutionary War still hadn’t gotten
payment for their duty. They also were experiencing
really high state taxes, so Daniel Shays and these farmers
are very upset, obviously, in their wanting their money
and so they started rebelling, but the problem is, with the
way that the central government that was built, first,
Congress had no ability to levy or collect taxes. If they couldn’t collect taxes, they had no ability to actually
pay back their farmers. Along with that, they
didn’t have any money to create a military, so each
state had their own militia, but the United States
as a whole as a country did not have a military to
suppress this rebellion. So on both ends, we are in a really bad situation politically. – [Kim] Wow, so, there’s this moment where you find armed rebellion
against the United States for a lack of money and the US government finds that it can’t raise money and it can’t raise an army
to put down this rebellion. – [Leah] Exactly, and so there
is this fear immediately. And what we see is a lot
of the founding fathers that we know and really respect
today like George Washington and Ben Franklin and Alexander
Hamilton and James Madison, they get together and they
say this is a problem, we need to change what we have, and this leads to the
Constitutional Convention in which we draft our second constitution. – [Kim] Right, yeah, so in 1787, the leaders of the United
States get together and say, alright, the Articles of
Confederation aren’t working. We’re gonna need a stronger
central government, even though we were trying
to get away from the monarchy and now let’s think of something that’s going to work a
little bit better for us.

8 Comments

  • RayDar94

    I just wanted to thank you personally Sal for helping me and many more through high school, keep up the amazing work 🙂

  • Stephen Edward Waterstram

    Why are "We" brainwashed into solidarity with History in this perspective? This is Not Right and the masters are Sociopaths!

  • Joanna Pellegrino

    I teach history and I'd like to know what app this is to create this style of video? Would love to make my own

  • tegf4

    1789 US Constitution is the destruction of The United States of America and the birth of UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and
    or US Which is not a Government but a corporation. The "We The People" are not the people of the land but "We The People" are only the people that were in on the scam. This corporation is a sub corporation of the East India Trading Company. They took back America that tried to break free. So with the stroke of a pen the United States of America, the Union of the 13 States formed under the the Articles of Confederation were conquered.

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