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Articles of Confederation Essay

With intentions of creating a united nation, colonial leaders developed the Articles of Confederation. Although the Articles of Confederation helped lead the United States to the creation of the Constitution, it did not provide for an effective government from 1781 to 1787, do to its lack of power to control commerce and impose taxes, the failure to amalgamate its people as a country, and its inability to enforce laws. Though its overall ineffectiveness, the Articles of Confederation (the Articles) had several positive results. One positive effect was that kept the states united during the war.

This helped greatly in successfully dealing with western lands. The Land Ordinance of 1785 distributed land in an organized manner among the states. Another purpose for this was to create land for education. The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 led to western expansion, forbid slavery north of the Ohio River. Although there were disputes about the distributions, the land was generally divided fairly. (Doc E) The Articles of Confederation preserved sovereignty and the republican ideology held on to by the Real Whigs of the colonial era.

This would allow for the equality of the thirteen states having the right to vote on different aspects of the Articles. One of the major issues that was not incorporated in the Articles of Confederation was their power to control a monetary system. This included imposing taxes on the states and regulating commerce. This flaw allowed various states to create different laws concerning taxes that would conflict with each other. A growing problem at the time was that every state had their own money system which created troubles when using money from state to state.

With each state having their own money, and having no value from state to state, the market value of United States Exports declined sharply from 1775 when exports were booming, to 1787. (Doc B) Another major factor in this was the increase in cheap British imports. In addition to the fact that the Articles did not give the central government the power to have a central monetary structure and force taxes on the states, the pre-war debt rose. Money owed to soldiers for service was unable to be paid largely due to their inability to maintain a stable income that would come through taxes. Doc. C)

Congress had hoped that each state would comply with the tax quota they had “requested” from each state. From that, they would receive about one-fourth of these requests. Along with the monetary imperfection under the Articles of Confederation, the states failure to unify led it to be ineffective for the United States government. For example, when dealing with western land, the government did not have much authority and states we continuously gaining and loosing land. (Doc E) This threatened the accord of the states.

An example of being unable to come together would be Rhode Island when they declined to attend the Constitutional Convention because they believed that oust their state power and would lead to the creation of a stronger central government. They also disagreed with Congress in that they were able to propose an impost on imported goods. This was mainly applied to the commercial states, Rhode Island being one of them. (Doc A) One of the major reasons why the Articles proved to be ineffective was the lack of a strong central government.

One power the government was entitled to but never implemented heavily on the states as they should have was the authority to sign treaties with other countries. In some cases they failed to even do this. For example, the southern portion of the Mississippi River was being controlled by Spain and although the government attempted to fix this issue, they were unable to do so and rolled over. (Doc F) Along with Spain, Britain still held forts in western land and in lower parts of Canada that influenced the United States greatly by disrupting trade.

This became an issue because of the debt held on to by the US and the money owed to the British merchants by the American merchants. (Doc D) This issue came into perspective because of the abused rights given in the Treaty of Paris. (Doc D) Out of the Articles of Confederation, many great things were brought to the attention of the United States government that was able to be put forth toward the establishment of the Constitution. But in doing so provided the United States with an ineffective government from 1781 to 1787.

Their incapability to regulate commerce and enforce taxes on the states was a major factor in the unsuccessful government under the Articles. Also, the lack of unification amongst states and people influenced this. The powers granted within the Articles of Confederation to the government regarding foreign affairs were established but then were not deeply enforced, showing a weak command. Despite the Articles of Confederations ineffectiveness on the United States government, it proved to help in the creation of the Constitution in a positive way.


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