George Washington had been one of the very first proponents of a strong federal government. The army had nearly disbanded on several occasions during the winters of the war because of the weaknesses of the Continental Congress.
The delegates could not draft soldiers and had to send requests for regular troops and militia to the states. Congress had the right to order the production and purchase of provisions for the soldiers, but could not force anyone to supply them, and the army nearly starved in several winters of war. The Continental Congress, before the Articles were approved, had promised soldiers a pension of half pay for life. However Congress had no power to compel the states to fund this obligation, and as the war wound down after the victory at Yorktown the sense of urgency to support the military was no longer a factor.
No progress was made in Congress during the winter of — General Henry Knox, who would later become the first Secretary of War under the Constitution, blamed the weaknesses of the Articles for the inability of the government to fund the army.
The army had long been supportive of a strong union. The army generally have always reprobated the idea of being thirteen armies.
Their ardent desires have been to be one continental body looking up to one sovereign. It is a favorite toast in the army, "A hoop to the barrel" or "Cement to the Union". As Congress failed to act on the petitions, Knox wrote to Gouverneur Morris, four years before the Philadelphia Convention was convened, "As the present Constitution is so defective, why do not you great men call the people together and tell them so; that is, to have a convention of the States to form a better Constitution.
Once the war had been won, the Continental Army was largely disbanded. A very small national force was maintained to man the frontier forts and to protect against Native American attacks. Meanwhile, each of the states had an army or militia , and 11 of them had navies. The wartime promises of bounties and land grants to be paid for service were not being met. In , George Washington defused the Newburgh conspiracy , but riots by unpaid Pennsylvania veterans forced Congress to leave Philadelphia temporarily.
The Congress from time to time during the Revolutionary War requisitioned troops from the states. The Anti-Federalists claimed that state politicians understood their duty to the Union and contributed to advance its needs.
This helps explain why the Articles of Confederation needed reforms. The Treaty of Paris , which ended hostilities with Great Britain, languished in Congress for several months because too few delegates were present at any one time to constitute a quorum so that it could be ratified. Afterward, the problem only got worse as Congress had no power to enforce attendance.
Rarely did more than half of the roughly sixty delegates attend a session of Congress at the time, causing difficulties in raising a quorum. The resulting paralysis embarrassed and frustrated many American nationalists, including George Washington. Many of the most prominent national leaders, such as Washington, John Adams , John Hancock , and Benjamin Franklin , retired from public life, served as foreign delegates, or held office in state governments; and for the general public, local government and self-rule seemed quite satisfactory.
In , Thomas Jefferson , concerned over the failure of Congress to fund an American naval force to confront the Barbary pirates , wrote in a diplomatic correspondence to James Monroe that, "It will be said there is no money in the treasury.
There never will be money in the treasury till the Confederacy shows its teeth. Furthermore, the Jay—Gardoqui Treaty with Spain also showed weakness in foreign policy. In this treaty, which was never ratified, the United States was to give up rights to use the Mississippi River for 25 years, which would have economically strangled the settlers west of the Appalachian Mountains.
The Confederation Congress could make decisions, but lacked enforcement powers. Implementation of most decisions, including modifications to the Articles, required unanimous approval of all thirteen state legislatures. Congress was denied any powers of taxation: The states often failed to meet these requests in full, leaving both Congress and the Continental Army chronically short of money.
As more money was printed by Congress, the continental dollars depreciated. In , George Washington wrote to John Jay , who was serving as the president of the Continental Congress, "that a wagon load of money will scarcely purchase a wagon load of provisions.
In an appeal to the States to comply, Jay wrote that the taxes were "the price of liberty, the peace, and the safety of yourselves and posterity. Congress had also been denied the power to regulate either foreign trade or interstate commerce and, as a result, all of the States maintained control over their own trade policies.
The states and the Confederation Congress both incurred large debts during the Revolutionary War, and how to repay those debts became a major issue of debate following the War. Some States paid off their war debts and others did not. Nevertheless, the Confederation Congress did take two actions with long-lasting impact. The Land Ordinance of and Northwest Ordinance created territorial government, set up protocols for the admission of new states and the division of land into useful units, and set aside land in each township for public use.
This system represented a sharp break from imperial colonization, as in Europe, and it established the precedent by which the national later, federal government would be sovereign and expand westward—as opposed to the existing states doing so under their sovereignty.
The Land Ordinance of established both the general practices of land surveying in the west and northwest and the land ownership provisions used throughout the later westward expansion beyond the Mississippi River. Frontier lands were surveyed into the now-familiar squares of land called the township 36 square miles , the section one square mile , and the quarter section acres.
This system was carried forward to most of the States west of the Mississippi excluding areas of Texas and California that had already been surveyed and divided up by the Spanish Empire. Then, when the Homestead Act was enacted in , the quarter section became the basic unit of land that was granted to new settler-farmers.
The Northwest Ordinance of noted the agreement of the original states to give up northwestern land claims , organized the Northwest Territory and laid the groundwork for the eventual creation of new states. The Northwest Ordinance of also made great advances in the abolition of slavery. New states admitted to the union in this territory would never be slave states. No new states were admitted to the Union under the Articles of Confederation. The Articles provided for a blanket acceptance of the Province of Quebec referred to as "Canada" in the Articles into the United States if it chose to do so.
It did not, and the subsequent Constitution carried no such special provision of admission. Additionally, ordinances to admit Frankland later modified to Franklin , Kentucky , and Vermont to the Union were considered, but none were approved. Under the Articles of Confederation, the presiding officer of Congress—referred to in many official records as President of the United States in Congress Assembled —chaired the Committee of the States when Congress was in recess, and performed other administrative functions.
He was not, however, an executive in the way the later President of the United States is a chief executive, since all of the functions he executed were under the direct control of Congress. There were 10 presidents of Congress under the Articles. The first, Samuel Huntington , had been serving as president of the Continental Congress since September 28, The peace treaty left the United States independent and at peace but with an unsettled governmental structure.
The Articles envisioned a permanent confederation, but granted to the Congress—the only federal institution—little power to finance itself or to ensure that its resolutions were enforced. There was no president, no executive agencies, no judiciary and no tax base. The absence of a tax base meant that there was no way to pay off state and national debts from the war years except by requesting money from the states, which seldom arrived.
By , with the end of the British blockade, the new nation was regaining its prosperity. However, trade opportunities were restricted by the mercantilism of the British and French empires. The ports of the British West Indies were closed to all staple products which were not carried in British ships. France and Spain established similar policies. Simultaneously, new manufacturers faced sharp competition from British products which were suddenly available again.
Political unrest in several states and efforts by debtors to use popular government to erase their debts increased the anxiety of the political and economic elites which had led the Revolution. The apparent inability of the Congress to redeem the public obligations debts incurred during the war, or to become a forum for productive cooperation among the states to encourage commerce and economic development, only aggravated a gloomy situation.
The Continental Congress printed paper money which was so depreciated that it ceased to pass as currency, spawning the expression "not worth a continental". Congress could not levy taxes and could only make requisitions upon the States. Less than a million and a half dollars came into the treasury between and , although the governors had been asked for two million in alone.
When John Adams went to London in as the first representative of the United States, he found it impossible to secure a treaty for unrestricted commerce. Demands were made for favors and there was no assurance that individual states would agree to a treaty. Adams stated it was necessary for the States to confer the power of passing navigation laws to Congress, or that the States themselves pass retaliatory acts against Great Britain.
Congress had already requested and failed to get power over navigation laws. Meanwhile, each State acted individually against Great Britain to little effect. When other New England states closed their ports to British shipping, Connecticut hastened to profit by opening its ports. By Congress was unable to protect manufacturing and shipping. State legislatures were unable or unwilling to resist attacks upon private contracts and public credit.
Land speculators expected no rise in values when the government could not defend its borders nor protect its frontier population. The idea of a convention to revise the Articles of Confederation grew in favor. The Second Continental Congress approved the Articles for distribution to the states on November 15, A copy was made for each state and one was kept by the Congress. On November 28, the copies sent to the states for ratification were unsigned, and the cover letter, dated November 17, had only the signatures of Henry Laurens and Charles Thomson , who were the President and Secretary to the Congress.
The Articles, however, were unsigned, and the date was blank. Congress began the signing process by examining their copy of the Articles on June 27, They ordered a final copy prepared the one in the National Archives , and that delegates should inform the secretary of their authority for ratification. On July 9, , the prepared copy was ready. One weakness was that the government was not allowed separate power and most of the power was left mostly up to the different states. The two greatest problems from this was the lack of a taxing authority and the lack of an executive authority.
Congress could not, therefore, generate funds for its campaigns. It also could not implement the laws passed. The states were free to ignore the supposed highest governing body of the country. Thus the greatest problem of the Confederates was not an exhilarating sense of freedom but rather an inability to collect tax and to gather resources.
Essays on the Formation of the Constitution. Jackson Barlow, Leonard W. Levy and Ken Masugi. Ever since the Revolutionary war, America had become an independent country. Of course, they needed a national government to keep things in order. So then, the Articles of Confederation was created as the first attempt of a national government. In a confederation, the states, maintain their sovereignty, but they join together in a coordinated way to deal with certain issues.
This independence of each political state Articles of confederation created in , was the first constitution of the United States of America. The Articles of Confederation had served as the agreement between the thirteen sovereign states and was ratified by The Articles had served as the start of a new government that had brought many benefits and prosperity to the country.
Even with a strong state government, when faced with The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution states the rights to give citizens of America the right to bear arms. This amendment was adopted with the rest of the other amendments, in the Bill of Rights. With that being said, there are many people out there that takes that amendment literally, and feel as if they should be able to own and have any The Supreme Court, which is the judicial arm of the government, functions as the interpreter and arbitrator of the Constitution of the US.
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Get Full Essay Get access to this section to get all help you need with your essay and educational issues. Problems with the Articles of Confederation Essay Sample Since the birth of the United States, the issue over how strong the national government should be has always been a controversial one. Copying is only available for logged-in users. If you need this sample for free, we can send it to you via email Send. All Materials are Cataloged Well. We have received your request for getting a sample.
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- Problems with the Articles of Confederation The Articles of Confederation were developed after the Revolutionary War, and were a good idea to help set standards for America. However, they had some major problems that needed to be solved in order for America to become a strong nation.
The Articles of Confederation was the first constitution of the United States of America. It was the first governing document adopted by the Get access to this section to get all help you need with your essay and educational issues. Get Access. The Articles of Confederation Essay Sample.
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