Social Studies 5: Rights and Responsibilities: The Articles of Confederation

It may just be us, but whenever we hear "confederation," things don't seem to turn out too well. Today we'll tell you all about the Articles of Confederation and why they were done away with.

5th GradeSocial Studies
Elementary and Middle School5th Grade
LanguageEnglish Language

Transcript

00:30

the United States Constitution.

00:32

…not the eyeliner thing.

00:33

We're pretty sure they didn't look like raccoons. [Colonists with lots of eyeliner]

00:35

We meant the whole, "not getting it right the first time," thing…because the Constitution

00:39

that we know and love today was actually their second try.

00:42

Their first try?

00:43

The Articles of Confederation.

00:45

The Articles of Confederation was drafted in 1776 and ratified in 1781.

00:50

It was an agreement between the thirteen original states in the USA about how their government

00:54

would be run.

00:55

There were a few key ideas behind it...

00:58

The first was to give limited powers to Congress. [Coop discussing the limited powers to congress]

01:01

Why?

01:02

Well, the colonists weren't feelin' too hot about the strict rule of the King of Great

01:06

Britain and Ireland, George III.

01:08

They thought he was too powerful, and didn't want to deal with a new tyrannical king of [King George on a hill and King Dino appears]

01:12

their own.

01:14

The rights and responsibilities that Congress did end up with were:

01:18

To establish relationships – including treaties and alliances – with foreign countries. [Coop explaining rights and responsibilities of Congress]

01:22

To enter into – and hopefully end – wars.

01:25

To establish a postal service.

01:27

To establish armed forces.

01:28

To ask for money from the states when needed.

01:30

And to determine the value of and create money.

01:34

As you can see, even though the colonists seemed hesitant to give power to a central [Colonists stood together]

01:38

government, the Articles of Confederation still made sure Congress had a lot to do.

01:42

Even simply trying to coordinate a postal service back then must have been impossible. [Man riding horse holding a letter]

01:48

Without sorting machines, conveyor belts and loading trucks, the holiday season must have

01:52

been a nightmare. [Colonist sitting down as gifts are tossed in a pile]

01:53

As for what the states had the power and freedom to do – well, if it wasn't outlined as a

01:57

responsibility of Congress, that meant the states could do it.

02:00

We can't imagine how that could ever go wrong.

02:04

This included the ability to control trade between states and other countries... [Dino discussing what states had the freedom to do]

02:09

The taxing of goods..

02:10

The creation of their own money...

02:13

And establishing their own armed forces.

02:15

In short, the states could act independently and do pretty much everything Congress could [Man hopping on a large map]

02:19

do – but for themselves.

02:21

And if you wanted to make a change to the document, you'd have to get unanimous support

02:26

from each and every state.

02:28

That seems nice in theory, but they had no idea how hard it would be to get literally

02:32

everyone to agree on something.

02:34

You'd think that would have come up before when choosing pizza toppings for congressional [Men in congress with pizza]

02:38

proceedings, but we guess they could all agree on cheese and pepperoni.

02:41

Of course, by the time 1789 rolled around, none of that really mattered a whole lot.

02:46

Why?

02:47

Because the government as outlined in the Articles was replaced by a federal government

02:51

described in the United States Constitution. [Constitution appears beside Article]

02:54

That's right.

02:55

In the blink of an eye, none of those policies existed anymore.

02:58

So why did we even make this video…?

03:00

Well, first off, it's history, second off, we don’t know about you, but it makes us

03:03

feel a little better that even people like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson made [George and Thomas stood together]

03:07

mistakes once in a while.

03:09

Now, uh…can anyone recommend a good brand of makeup remover?

03:13

We may have…gotten a little overenthusiastic. [Man and woman wearing too much eye liner]