Following the rebellion against Great Britain, it was an agreement between representatives of the thirteen colonies to establish themselves as sovereign states with their own set of laws. However, while It provided a strong base for the constitution, without modifications it failed to effectively govern the united States. Since the very beginning of the Articles In 1781, Americans had noticed the unusual changes in government immediately.
In Document G, five years after the ratification of the Articles, John Jay wrote to George Washington describing his uncertainty.
“l am uneasy and apprehensive… The case is now altered; we are going and doing wrong. ” Jay explains how, although he initially thought the Articles of Confederation would be a successful document and provide a strong system of government for America, his beliefs are now changing. One of the most problematic Issues of this time period was the holding of power.
Americans wanted control of the government to be held by each Individual state as opposed to a single person or group.
They feared that putting one ruler in charge would be too similar to what they experienced under Great Britain’s rule and Hereford chose to divide the power. However, giving the states control over their own governments caused more problems than It prevented. The main reason for Glenn the states more power than the federal government was because of faults found in Congress by Americans.
Firstly, as demonstrated in Document A, a letter from 1782 written by the Rhode Island Assembly expresses the beliefs that giving power to Congress would only hurt the states. If Congress had the power to collect and regulate taxes then they would unequally distribute them and impose higher duties on the commercial states, thus weakening the economy. Also, with each state having its own separate constitution, there were numerous limitations on what laws and regulations Congress could pass In attempts to Improve the quality of the country.
Secondly, along with a faulty taxation system, they could not meet the financial needs of soldiers. Document C states that “the inability of Congress to pay [the soldiers’] demands” was making the soldiers restless. Such discontent amongst a large group of men could ultimately lead to opposition of the government. The lack of a unified government also posed problems in terms of making agreements with other countries. Without the intimidation of a strong government or army, foreign countries were not as Inclined or eager to make treaties with America.
Document D shows a letter sent by John Jay In 1785 to the united States Minister to Great Britain, asking him to, “in a respectful but firm manner,” demand that the British return US territories that were under their control, as well as repeal between American and Spain the following year. Document F shows John Jays speech to Congress concerning negotiations with Spain. Spain requested that the US give up their rights to navigate the Mississippi, as well as give up their western claims. Jay succumbed and, for the purpose of negotiations, gave up the states’ navigation rights.
Although, the states ended up losing the majority of their land anyway, as seen in the map in Document E. Various states that once had extensive land claims in the west, such as Virginia and New York, still lost the land, despite it not being part of the negotiation. While the Articles of Confederation provided a solid foundation for the Constitution, it failed to effectively govern the states. The division of power amongst thirteen separate governments made it difficult to regulate taxation, make foreign treaties, and unify the people.
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