Comparison Of The United States Constitution And The Articles Of Confederation

967 words - 4 pages

Relations between the thirteen British colonies and their mother country became strained after the Seven Years War when colonial America yearned for its own independence from Great Britain. Throughout the war the British government supported the American colonies but suffered serious financial losses. In desperation to seek compensation and retain power of its overseas colonies, the English Parliament began imposing strict laws and taxes on the colonists. In retaliation the furious colonists demanded sovereignty and when Parliament refused to grant it to them, a Revolutionary War erupted in 1775. During the Revolutionary War, on June 12, 1776, the Second Continental Congress representing all of the thirteen colonies under British control assembled a draft of the Articles of Confederation; the first of two doctrines that resulted in the eventual unification of the divided colonies, establishment of a self government, and the ratification of today’s U.S. Constitution.
The first U.S. constitutional doctrine ever written were the Articles of Confederation, composed during a time when the thirteen British colonies were still in a Revolutionary war with Great Britain. On November 15, 1777 after a year of debate, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation. It didn’t become effective though, until it was ratified by all thirteen states in 1781; a task that proved to be difficult after some states refused to cooperate. Under the Articles of Confederation the British colonies were to unite, become individual self-sovereign states, and distinguish themselves as the United States of America. It would allow them to abandon the statutes of the British monarchy and plan an organized government that would set guidelines on land ownership, foreign policy, the military, taxation, and currency. The government would operate under one branch of government, Congress, and each state would have only one representative. In January 1783, after the signing of the Treaty of Paris, Americans finally earned their independence from Great Britain and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Now the states could freely exercise the policies of their new Confederation, become united, and for sure settle all the disputes amongst themselves and the government, or so they thought.
From the very start the new Confederation was problematic; its prime weakness being the U.S. government itself and its lack of authority over the states. The only way to get all thirteen states to ratify the Articles of Confederation was by limiting the powers of Congress and awarding the states their own individual rights, which is exactly what Congress did. Under this new policy states were allowed to tax themselves, charge tariffs on each other’s goods, and personally manage their own currency by converting to paper money. As a result Congress was left powerless and couldn’t effectively regulate national commerce or taxation, two principles needed...

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