Summary—Powers denied to states

States are denied certain powers under the Articles of Confederation. States may not send ambassadors to foreign countries, receive foreign ambassadors, or make any kind of arrangement, meeting or treaty with any king, prince or state. No person or state may accept any gift, including titles of nobility, from a foreign state. Neither Congress nor any state can give people noble titles.

A state may not enter into any treaties or alliances with another state without the approval of Congress.

A state may not make imposts on trade that will interfere with the terms of foreign treaties made by Congress.

A state cannot maintain any warships, or other military forces (troops) during peacetime unless Congress has determined it necessary to defend that state, its trade or forts in that state. Each state must maintain a "well-regulated and disciplined" militia, and a sufficient amount of supplies for that militia.

A state does not have the power to make war without the permission of Congress, unless it is forced to defend itself against a surprise attack and cannot wait for the permission of Congress.


While the focus of Article 6 is on the limitations of state power, it also reflects certain historical realities that faced the young nation, and addresses the threats, both internal and external, that the nation was vulnerable to in its early years.

Popular pages: The Articles of Confederation (1781-1789)