Article Of Confederation Essay, Research Paper
Articles of Confederation
The ineffectiveness of the Articles of Confederation was pulling the country apart by the end of the 1780?s. It needed improvement in each genre of its structure. In foreign policy, politically, and economically, the country was in a state of collapse. Politically, the writers of the Articles of Confederation forgot two of the three-branch government, the executive and judicial branches. In foreign policy, the country was not respect by any of its peers and could not create an effective treaty. Finally, economic stability was non-existent. The country could not collect taxes, pay debts, or trade effectively. Amidst the chaos, there were few shinning lights in the darkness of the period. One such event was the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. These many flaws threw the country in to a state of disarray between 1781 and 1789.
Politically, the weight of government was tilted to one side instead of being balanced. The Legislative branch was the chief agency with the extremely important executive and judicial branches left up to each individual state. Each state had only one vote in the Congress, which may seem fair, but population wise, it was totally unbalanced. Any bill or amendment had to be approved by two-thirds vote or unanimously. These rules made it virtually impossible to change any aspect of the Articles. With no executive branch, the government could not enforce any laws or taxes that were actually passed. As expressed in Document C, the executive branch could not collect the money to pay the army?s soldiers. This government was in actuality no more than an advisor to the states. Furthermore, with the judicial branch being left up to every state, there was no uniform interpretation of the new laws or constitution, which made traveling between difficult. The government under the Articles could not enforce laws, collect taxes, or even protect itself from threats.
Of all aspects of the Articles of Confederation, economic uncertainty was the worst. The executive branch, being non-existence, could not collect taxes and therefore the government had no revenue to work with. All the government could do was ask the states for money and most of the time did not get it. Document A shows this inadequacy when Rhode Island refuses Congress?s attempt to collect a tariff. Because the states would not give money, the nation?s debt was rapidly increasing with no finance to pay it off. The states were being torn apart. They were having disputes that led to the levying of taxes on each other. Some states started printing more money that greatly depreciated the nation?s currency. The amount of income being generated by trade was decreasing as well. Population doubles from 1770 to 1792 but the income levels off and does not grow along with it. Document B expresses this fact. Many farmers could not pay the mortgages and farms had to be foreclosed. These angry farmers took up arms against this in the form of Shay?s Rebellion. Although the uprising was crushed, it shows the economic poverty of many angered citizens.
In the confederation, foreign policy definitely had room for improvement. Every enemy stayed poised on hurting the U.S. and allies now turned against them as well. The Spanish cut off use of the Mississippi River. This Spanish action is shown as one of their man objectives in Document F. In addition, they claimed Florida, in total disregard of the U.S. ownership of Florida given to them by the British. The French turned on the U.S. after being its ally in the revolution. They demanded debts paid and cut off trade. England did not hold back on the unpleasantness either. They would not make a treaty or repeal the hated Navigation Laws. Although the U.S. won the revolution, they could not make demand that the British would adhere to. They would not leave the forts on the northwestern frontier, and continued aiding the Indians against the United States. John Jay clearly shows this inability of our government to enforce this demand in Document D. Lord Sheffield gives Britain reasons not to heed American demands in a pamphlet, which says England would eventually win America?s trade back eventually anyway. The foreign relations with these other nations humiliated the United States and changes needed to occur to reverse this division of the government.
In between all of the faults there were good points to the Articles of Confederation. Most prominently, was the Northwest Ordinance. This effectively divided new land claims for territories. One section was always for a school, there could be no slavery, and there need to be 60,000 people before it could apply for statehood. Document E represents the effectiveness of the law. It settled many domestic disputes between states that greatly help unity in the nation. Also, compared to the European government?s of the time, the Articles were a much improved form to work with. Although a strong federation was needed, the states under the Articles of Confederation were a model for the idea of a loose confederation. There were not many, but there were some good elements to the Articles.
The Articles of Confederation were a weak government that barely kept the states together during the 1780?s. Politically, economically, and in foreign policy, the government was not up to par. Politically, judicial and executive branches were desperately needed to balance the Legislative and to have uniform throughout the states. Economically, no money could be gained through taxes, debt was piling up, and states were not cooperating. Other nations did not pay attention to our demands and cut off trade. They tried to keep us small and insignificant. Foreign Policy was not a strong point either. All of these facts add up to one conclusion, the Articles of Confederation were not an effective government from 1781 to 1789.