Articles of ConfederationArticles of Confederation
As the first written constitution of the
United States, the Articles of Confederation created a legislature where
each state was represented equally. The Congress had jurisdiction over
foreign relations with the authority to form alliances and make treaties,
make war and peace, sustain an army and navy, coin money, establish a postal
service, create admiralty courts, and settle disputes between states. Thus,
the power vested in Congress allowed it to operate with moderate control
over the states. Another successful point was in the allowance of
equal votes in Congress for each state and the decree that most decisions
be decided by majority vote.
However, through these articles, the United
States government lacked a sufficient system of taxation. Under the Articles
of Confederation the Congress had no power to tax the states, instead it
depended on donations by the states. The states desired moderate government
involvement and thus, were repulsed by the idea of federal taxation. Lacking
in adequate funding, inflation soon overwhelmed the nation. Another
obstacle in effective governing was that The Articles did not grant Congress
the power to enforce its laws, instead depending on voluntary compliance
by the states. In place of executive and judicial branches, The Articles
created an inefficient committee system branching out of Congress.
Most importantly, any amendment to the Articles of Confederation required
the ratification by all the states, a measure that virtually eliminated
any chance of change.
The negatives of The Articles gradually
magnified. The British refused to evacuate from forts in the American
Old Northwest. Finally, Shay’s rebellion in Massachusetts symbolized
the feebleness of the nation, and inadequacy of the Articles of Confederation.
Although, some states opposed a radical change in governmental form , it
was inevitable by 1787.
The Articles of Confederation provided
effective management of expansion for the United States. It also gave Congress
ample control over guidance of the country. However, The Articles were
insufficient in several important matters. Without an executive branch
the country lacked a clear, decisive leader. The Congress had no
power to lay and collect taxes, nor did it possess the power to enforce
its laws, making it virtually dependent on the states. On matters of amendment
The Articles left little room for change, relying on an unanimous decision
to alter it. Despite, success in expansion policies, The Articles of Confederation
was a failure in creating a prosperous and efficacious country that could
support and defend itself and its people.