Lesson Plan: The Weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation

The Origin of the Articles of Confederation

Peter Hanson Michael discussed the origins of the Articles of Confederation, specifically referencing John Hanson's role in the government under the Articles of Confederation.

Description

After the Declaration of Independence, the former colonies needed a constitution to help organize the new country. The Articles of Confederation was adopted by the Second Continental Congress in 1777 and served as the basis of government until it was replaced by the current U.S. Constitution in 1788. This lesson has students learn about the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation by viewing clips from experts and has them predict solutions to these problems.

Procedures

  • WARM-UP:

    Have the students answer the following questions. Review the answers and discuss afterwards.

    • Describe the structure of government that the colonies had under British rule. Who had the power? How were decisions about the colonies made?
    • Describe the type of government the former colonists might create for their new country as a reaction to British rule.
  • INTRODUCTION:

    As a class, watch both of the following clips about the beginning of the Articles of Confederation. Have the students answer each of the questions below and on the Handout: Articles of Confederation.(Google Doc.)

    Video Clip: The Origin of the Articles of Confederation (5:25)

    Video Clip: Articles of Confederation (3:01)

    • Explain the events that were taking place during the creation and ratification of the Articles of Confederation.
    • How did the 2nd Continental Congress handle land grants and western expansion? Why is this significant?
    • Describe the structure of government under the Articles of Confederation.
    • What powers did the national government have under the Articles of Confederation?
  • ASSIGNMENT:

    Have the students watch each of the following video clips. Students should take notes on the weaknesses, limitations and failures of the Articles of Confederation on the handout (Google Doc).

    Video Clip: Why the Articles of Confederation Failed (3:37)

    Video Clip: Articles of Confederation (3:26)

    Video Clip: George Washington and the Articles of Confederation (3:16)

    Video Clip: The Articles of Confederation and Shay's Rebellion (5:05)

    Video Clip: Articles of Confederation and the Annapolis Convention (1:19)

    Using the Handout: Articles of Confederation (Google Doc.) the students will make a list of weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation. For each weakness, students will explain why it is a problem and predict how this problem could be fixed when creating a new constitution.

  • CONCLUSION:

    As a class, review the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation and go over the students' predictions for the new constitution. After reviewing the weaknesses, view the video clip on the Constitutional Convention as a class. After viewing the clip, students will discuss the following question either in small groups or as a class:

    Based on the clip, how did the new Constitution address the problems and weaknesses of the government under the Articles of Confederation? Provide specific examples to support your point.

  • EXTENSION ACTIVITIES:

    Argumentative Essay Free Response Question- Respond to this writing prompt presented in the style of the Argumentative Question component of the redesigned AP Government and Politics exam.

    Constitution Clips- Using C-SPAN Classroom's Constitution Clips site, students will identify individual parts of the Constitution that address each of the weaknesses and limitations of the Articles of Confederation.

    Political Cartoon- Students will create a political cartoon about one or more of the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation.

    Letter to the Editor- Students will write a letter to the editor from the perspective of an American living during the time of the Articles of Confederation. Include your view of the Articles of Confederation and what should be done about it.

    Summarize the Articles- Using the text of the Articles of Confederation, summarize each of the articles within the Articles of Confederation.

    Articles in Modern Times- Imagine that we still had the Articles of Confederation as our government. Pick a current crisis or major event and describe how the government under the Articles of Confederation would react to it. Evaluate the effectiveness of this reaction.

Additional Resources

Vocabulary

  • Amendment
  • Annapolis Convention
  • Articles Of Confederation
  • Constitution
  • Constitutional Convention
  • Declaration Of Independence
  • Federal Government
  • Federalism
  • Foreign Policy
  • General Welfare
  • Shay

Topics

Constitutional FoundationU.S. History

Grades

Middle SchoolHigh School