Essay Problems with the Articles of Confederation
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Problems with the Articles of Confederation
The Articles of Confederation were developed after the Revolutionary War, and were a good idea to help set standards for America. However, they had some major problems that needed to be solved in order for America to become a strong nation. After these problems were addressed the Constitution was developed.
Unfortunately for the National Government, Congress did not have any power to collect taxes from people in each individual state. The Congress could ask for money, but could not by any mean force states to pay them. The National Government greatly needed money to cover expenses and debts. Congress could not pay the Nation’s debt, which meant they could not provide much needed…show more content…
Along with the foreign affair problems with no army, this also played a role with problems in foreign trade. Not having an army to protect US goods was extremely risky with trading. Ships were easily attacked when they were crossing oceans to trade with other countries. Mainly pirates took over ships and forced them to hand over very valuable goods. Sometimes pirates captured sailors from the ships, and also stole goods. While the US was having troubles protecting their goods, other countries were having troubles keeping economy in their own country from declining. To help the economies of other countries from declining, countries placed tariffs and trade restrictions on US goods. By doing this, foreign countries would not want to buy US goods because they were too expensive. Instead, they would buy goods from their own countries because it was cheaper. Also the countries placed trade restrictions on other countries’ goods to make it harder for people in their own country to receive foreign goods. With each state having its own government, disputes arose between individual states. A Federal court system was important and was greatly needed to settle the disputes. States often fought over trade and power. A federal court that controlled all of the states would have helped tremendously. If all the states followed the same rules and had the same federal court, they would have all been
It was 240 years ago today that the Articles of Confederation, the first American constitution, was sent to the 13 states for consideration. It didn’t last a decade, for some obvious reasons.
On November 17, 1777, Congress submitted the Articles to the states for immediate consideration. Tow days earlier, the Second Continental Congress approved the document, after a year of debates. The British capture of Philadelphia also forced the issue.
The Articles formed a war-time confederation of states, with an extremely limited central government. The document made official some of the procedures used by the Congress to conduct business, but many of the delegates realized the Articles had limitations.
Here is a quick list of the problems that occurred, and how these issues led to our current Constitution.
1. The states didn’t act immediately. It took until February 1779 for 12 states to approve the document. Maryland held out until March 1781, after it settled a land argument with Virginia.
2. The central government was designed to be very, very weak. The Articles established “the United States of America” as a perpetual union formed to defend the states as a group, but it provided few central powers beyond that. But it didn’t have an executive official or judicial branch.
3. The Articles Congress only had one chamber and each state had one vote. This reinforced the power of the states to operate independently from the central government, even when that wasn’t in the nation’s best interests.
4. Congress needed 9 of 13 states to pass any laws. Requiring this high supermajority made it very difficult to pass any legislation that would affect all 13 states.
5. The document was practically impossible to amend. The Articles required unanimous consent to any amendment, so all 13 states would need to agree on a change. Given the rivalries between the states, that rule made the Articles impossible to adapt after the war ended with Britain in 1783.
6. The central government couldn’t collect taxes to fund its operations. The Confederation relied on the voluntary efforts of the states to send tax money to the central government. Lacking funds, the central government couldn’t maintain an effective military or back its own paper currency.
7. States were able to conduct their own foreign policies. Technically, that role fell to the central government, but the Confederation government didn’t have the physical ability to enforce that power, since it lacked domestic and international powers and standing.
8. States had their own money systems. There wasn’t a common currency in the Confederation era. The central government and the states each had separate money, which made trade between the states, and other countries, extremely difficult.
9. The Confederation government couldn’t help settle Revolutionary War-era debts. The central government and the states owed huge debts to European countries and investors. Without the power to tax, and with no power to make trade between the states and other countries viable, the United States was in an economic mess by 1787.
10. Shays’ rebellion – the final straw. A tax protest by western Massachusetts farmers in 1786 and 1787 showed the central government couldn’t put down an internal rebellion. It had to rely on a state militia sponsored by private Boston business people. With no money, the central government couldn't act to protect the "perpetual union."
These events alarmed Founders like George Washington, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton to the point where delegates from five states met at Annapolis, Maryland in September 1786 to discuss changing the Articles of Confederation.
The group included Madison, Hamilton and John Dickinson, and it recommended that a meeting of all 13 states be held the following May in Philadelphia. The Confederation Congress agreed and the Constitutional Convention of 1787 effectively ended the era of the Articles of Confederation.