What is Federalism?
AMP | Kids is proud to partner with The Mini Page, celebrating over 50 years of providing engaging and fun learning opportunities to young readers across the country. This feature was originally syndicated in newspapers the week of March 7 – March 13, 2020. It is distributed digitally here with permission from Andrews McMeel Syndication. Enjoy and share with the young learners in your life!

The Articles of Confederation were our new country’s first laws. A confederation is a group united together for a purpose. The Articles of Confederation joined together our original 13 states.

The Articles held our country together during the fight for independence from Britain. When the American Revolution was over and the enemy threat was gone, the states became interested only in themselves. There were many problems because there was no strong central government.

Pennsylvania’s currency was different from Virginia’s and other states’ after the American Revolution.

Money: The government had no control over paper money. Each state could print its own.

Taxes: The government did not have the power to collect taxes. Gen. George Washington was well aware of this problem. During the Revolutionary War, many of his troops were ragged and hungry. Some troops paid for their own gunpowder.

Trade: The government had no powers over trade or commerce. Dealing with other countries was hard because Congress could not speak for all states. States even set tariffs, or taxes, on items coming in from other states.

Other countries had no respect for us: Our government was so weak that England kept some of the forts it agreed to give up after the Revolutionary War.

Mount Vernon meeting, 1785

After the Revolution, the government of the 13 states was not strong enough to straighten out differences among the states.

Leaders met at George Washington’s home  to settle differences between Maryland and Virginia. The five delegates settled the differences, and then decided to hold a meeting once a year and invite all 13 states.

Meeting at Annapolis, 1786

Five states sent a total of 12 delegates. They took a strong step. They sent word to the Congress and other states that another meeting should be held the next year to rewrite the Articles of Confederation. The meeting in 1787 did more than that. It wrote the Constitution.

The meeting in Annapolis, Maryland, was held at Mann’s Tavern.

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

The Preamble

Most people agree that the first three words — “We the People” — are the most important in the Constitution. They clearly say that the American people are in charge of their government. This is known as “popular sovereignty.” The people hold the power.

Who are ‘We the People’?

In 1787, when the Constitution was written, there were about 3,894,000 people in the United States. Today there are about 330,177,000. We the people have grown!


On the Web:

At the library:

  • The Articles of Confederation by Blair Belton

Teachers: For standards-based activities to accompany this feature, visit Andrews McMeel Syndication. And follow The Mini Page on Facebook!



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