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1985 Dbq Ap United States History Essay

959 words - 4 pages

As the first official document that defined the United States government, the Articles of Confederation both reflected the principles and view points of the American Revolution and emphasized the practical uncertainties of democratic government. To say that the Articles of Confederation provided the United States with an effective government, would be over-exaggerating quite a bit. The Congress was weak, and was purposely designed to be weak. They were purposely set up as a weak government so that the government could be less threatening. The American government didn't want to be a tyrant like that of the British government. The Articles of Confederations initial intention was to provide a loose confederation or "firm league of friendship." Thirteen independent states were therefore linked together for joint action in dealing with foreign affairs. Despite their fragility, the Articles proved to be a landmark in government, and at that time a model of what a loose confederation should be.The Articles of Confederation had many accomplishments and strengths. It ended the Revolutionary War. The U.S. government could claim some credit for the ultimate victory of Washington's army and for negotiating favorable terms in the treaty of peace with Britain. It kept the states unified during the war, and dealt successfully with western lands. The Land Ordinance of 1785 was set up to pay off debt, distributed land in an orderly fashion, and provided land for public education. The Northwest Ordinance of 1787was probably the greatest domestic success of the Articles; stated that 60,000 people was needed to become a state. This would prevent future problems for western colonies, and it forbade slavery. [Document E] The Articles of Confederation maintained sovereignty and equality among states(each having one vote in Congress,) and had power to respond to foreign affairs, declare war, appoint military officers, and coin money. Despite the Articles of Confederations strengths, they were also relatively weak.Under the Articles of Confederation nine out of thirteen states must agree to pass legislation, and all thirteen must agree to amend new articles; which were basically impossible. Neither did Congress have any executive power to enforce its own laws. Congress couldn't regulate trade between states and foreign nations, reqruit a military force, nor uniform currency. Each state had it's own currency, which made travel and trade difficult. Trade regulations varied from state to state which created further difficulties. In a letter from the Rhode Island Assembly to Congress in 1782, it showed that under the Articles, the central government could not levy taxes. To create a tax or change a law required a unanimous vote. Rhode Island listed a few reasons why they did not support the new tax. Some states refused to pay taxes. States argued about land and how some states received more land than the others. These issues led to Shay's Rebellion;...

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