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Articles of Confederation Essay

During the fight for their independence, Americans were trying to create a new republican government. Their desire was to have a political system in which the majority of the power would come from the people rather than from a supreme authority. As a result, the Articles of Confederation was formed and adopted by the Continental Congress in 1777. In the years of 1781 to 1789, the Articles were put into action and gave limits powers to the national authority, Congress. However, the Articles of Confederation in its critical period, 1781 to 1789, had severe weaknesses in its legislative branch, voting powers, powers of Congress, and states’ sovereignty which led to debts, problems with expansion and unity, and lack of change, development, and representation.

Unlike the fore coming Constitution, the Articles of Confederation only had a legislature branch with limited powers which brought forth problems dealing with amendments, taking important measures, and state representation. The Articles stated that each state would have one vote and have between two to seven representers. This would become a problem for many delegates taking long journeys to Congress which would lead to a lack of representation from states like Georgia and Maine. Often seasonal weathers would delay or hinder representers to arrive and cast their votes. In addition, in order for important measures to be placed into action, at least nine of the states had to approve of it.

Due to states’ different interest and way of sustaining its people, agreements were hardly made by the majority. Many states had different opinions and voiced out different ideas which contradicts other. This lack of approval by at least nine of the states led to a lack of change. In addition, any amendments like increasing central power and dealing issues involving slaves and women would have to be approved by every state. Similar to approving important measures, states would often disagree on certain circumstances which results in few or none amendments made. Therefore, many aspects of the legislature branch and states’ voting power have weaknesses and led to many problems.

In addition to having one branch of power, Congress’s, the only establishment of national authority, lack of power led to heavy debts, depression, and Shay’s Rebellion. Congress’s power included waging wars, managing foreign relations, and borrowing and issuing money. However it was not allowed to regulate commerce, raise and maintain an army, and levy taxes on the people directly. Although Congress made formal requests, involving troops and taxes to the state, it was frequently refused.

This lack to power caused America to go into a postwar depression, inadequate money supply, and inability to pay back debts it owed to foreign nations. In addition, Congress owed money to its soldier from selling war bonds. Depressed and frustrated veterans joined forces under Daniels Shays in Massachusetts and set of demands that consisted of paper money, tax relief particularly from state, relocation of state capital, and ending of imprisonment for debt. As a result of these problems, many Americans started to notice the flaws and imperfections of the Articles of Confederation.

In addition, each state of America had almost all of its sovereignty and decision making which increased a lack of national unity and problems with expansion, the West, and foreign relations.


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