The Articles Of Confederation Essay

1000 words - 4 pages

For over two-hundred years the United States has thrived under the Constitution. It has been the backbone of this country while growing from an infant into an adult. Although, the Constitution was instrumental in the maturation of America it was not the first form of government in this country. Ten years before the Constitutional Convention, Washington’s presidency, or the three branches of government; the Articles of Confederation were created. This fledgling government, proposed in 1777, was doomed to never take flight, being replaced in 1789, when the Constitution was effected under Washington. This raises the question: Why did the United States discard The Articles of Confederation for the Constitution? Ultimately, the Articles were simply a weak form of government. However, economic issues, difficulty of ratification and passing bills, and weak international weight clipped the wings of the Articles of Confederation.
The weakness of the Articles of Confederation caused debilitating commercial issues. Under the Articles, every state, as well as the federal government, could legally coin their own money. While this may have seemed like a good idea, it did not work well. With each state coining money, the Continental (national) dollar vastly inflated, which culminated in its tragic collapse in the 1780’s. Also, the Articles of Confederation provided the federal government with no power to levy national taxes. Congress attempted to amend this problem but the movement failed. Although the Whigs were successful in forming a small centralized government; the Articles provided no means to raise capital with which to support itself. The Articles of Confederation, in more legal language, stated “Congress could not regulate commerce through import and export duties”, (Allen, pg. 95). This placed all commercial power in the States’ hands. In reality “the Confederation Congress was a true Whig government – which had its economic arm tied behind its back”, (Allen, pg. 95). Although seeming to be a working model the commercial issues created by the Articles of Confederation handicapped the nation.
The Articles of Confederation were also weak because the ratification process was too stringent and passing amendments was difficult. The final draft of the Articles of Confederation was completed in 1777. At this time the Articles became the de facto form of government. Twelve of the states officially ratified between 1777 and 1779, however Maryland refused to ratify until 1781. Ratification took three years because it was required to be unanimous. Additionally, the Articles of Confederation were becoming an ineffective document because they necessitated a nine state majority for decisions in Congress and unanimous agreement on amendments. Under this set of parameters, the Articles could not adjust quickly to changing times. Purposely, the Articles of Confederation had been created as a weak centralized government but numerous issues...

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