Lesson 8: Problems Under the Articles of Confederation

This lesson begins with a teacher-led discussion of economic problems facing the new nation under the Articles of Confederation. The students read and discuss information about these problems in a handout; then they consider possible responses and make predictions about how those responses would affect economic growth. The Articles of Confederation, adopted in 1781, represented the former colonists' first attempt to establish a new government after the Revolutionary War. These Articles provided for a weak central government. Because of the excesses of King George III, whose rule they had just overthrown, the Americans were reluctant to grant much economic power, or authority of any sort, to the central government. But urgent economic questions remained to be addressed. Should the war debt be paid by the new national government? If so, how would sufficient revenue be raised? How should interstate trade be governed? How important would it be for the new nation to develop a strong military force for national defense? If a strong military establishment were needed, how should it be paid for? The resolution of these issues could have a large influence on the economic future ofthe new nation.


Debt, Tariff, Tax, Trade
National Content Standards in Economics:
  • Standard #16: Role of Government and Market Failure