The Articles of Confederation
The good, the bad, and the ineffective
History and motivation behind the Articles
Having just gotten out of a war where they were struggling against an oppressive, overreaching government, the early states were understandably wary of lending too much power to their central government. Instead, the 2nd Continental Congress decided to keep most of the control in the hands of state legislatures when constructing the Articles, a choice which was inevitably unsuccessful.
Having such a weak national government did allow for the states to recognize their newly found freedom. If the founders had attempted to install a dominant establishment that restricted the states, individual state governments would likely have rebelled against it. Also, the lax system which allowed Shay's Rebellion to happen forced the people to acknowledge the weaknesses in their own government independently of a ruling class's suggestions.
The national government had no power to:
It was very difficult to establish new, needed national laws. 9 out of the 13 states had to agree in order to pass a law, and a unanimous vote was required to ratify one.
Because the national government had no influence, the states started to make decisions to benefit themselves over the nation as a whole. They hurt trade and suffered economically when they placed taxes on each other.