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The Article Of Confederation Essay, Research Paper

Independence from Britain made necessary the establishment of a new

government. Eleven states drew up new constitutions; Connecticut and Rhode

Island revised colonial charters. The Articles of Confederation created a loose

union of near-sovereign states. The Confederation was inadequate and was

failing in the structure of government. They also were in deep trouble, financially

and economically. The Articles of Confederation probably achieved its most

important success in the handling of west diplomatic and financial concerns. In

evaluting post-American Revolutionary War, overall the Articles of

Confederation did not provide the United States with an effective government

due to the lack of central power.

Upon Independence, financial problems troubled the Confederation

government. During the American Revolutionary War for independence,

Congress and the states had printed “good faith” paper currency. It became

virtually worthless and was never redeemed. The structure of the Articles of

Confederation allowed the Congress to request funds and borrow money but not

lay taxes or collect tariffs. Congress had to either borrow funds from private

suppliers or tax the states to finance reconstruction after the war. Unable to tax

without the approval of all 13 states, Congress turned to a wealthy, self-made

Philiadelphia merchant, Robert Morris, who in 1781 became the nation’s

superintendant of finance. Morris proposed that the states authorize the

collection of a nationalimport duty of 5 percent to finance the congression

budget and to guarantee interest payments on the war debt. In (Doc. A) a letter

from the Rhode Island Assembly to Congress on (Nov. 30, 1782), Rhode Island

explains the rejection of Morris’s proposal of the collection for a national import

duty. Rhode Island stated that it was unequal and against the constitution.

Because all 13 states had to agree, the proposal was thrown out and was not

inforced. Morris and Alexander Hamilton devised a dangerous plot called the

Newburgh Conspiracy in order to relieve the panic. In 1783, (Doc C) the two

men secretly persuaded some army officers to threaten a coupd’etat unless the

treasury obtained the taxation authority needed to raise their pay. A letter from

Delegate Joseph Jones to George Washington suggests the immediate pay to

the soilder by enforcing tariffs and taxation. George Washington blocked this

threatened military coup aimed at strengthening the central government and

guaranteeing back pay and pensions to officers as the war came close. These

events proved the Confederation was weak and unable to control financial


Diplomatic problems multiplied after the war. Congress was unable to

comply states to repay prewar debts to British citizens and allow Loyalists to

recover confiscated property. European governments closed off nearly all

American trade with the colonies. According to statistics of exports and

population(Doc. B), after the Declaration of Independence, the profit of exports

to Britain steadily declined. This shows that the export trade to Britain was

declining. Britain took away the rights of the United States to trade with the

British colonies, yet Britain goods were still flooding in the United States.This, in

return caused an economic depression within the colonies. Secretary of Foreign

Affairs John Jay negotiated many treaties with Spain, Britain, and other

European countries, but it was blocked by Congress. In John Jay’s Instructions

to the United States Minister to Great Britain (Doc. D, March 7, 1785), Jay

insists that the British remove themselves from the United States. The British

still remained in the United States even after the war. Western land claims

were a long source of dispute between the states and european nations. Seven

states had huge western land based on colonial charters(Doc. E), while six other

states had noneThe addition of the western lands would strenghten the

Congress because the sale of lands would provide a source of national revenue.

In (Doc. F, August 6, 1786), the Spanish wants the United States to give up

highway rights of the Mississippi. The Mississippi was generally a money

highway for the United States. The siezing of the Mississippi river was

unnecessary and took away the opportunities of the Americans. However, John

Jay’s negotiation of a trade treaty with Spain was blocked by Congress.

The Shay’s Rebellion showed the inablity of the Articles of Confederation

to keep maintain things in order to satisfy the citizens. In 1786, farmers with

debts demanded more paper currency, postponement of debt and tax payments,

and an end to mortgage foreclosures. In Rhode Island, government issued a

flood of paper money. In western Massachusetts rebel farmers led by Daniel

Shays attempted to interrupt the operations of the courts. The rebellion was

easily crushed, but fears of anarchy grew among the wealthy. In a letter from

John Jay to George Washingon June 27, 1786 (Doc. G), Jay addresses his fear

of the failure of the Confederation and the various uproars. His faith in a new

changed constitution (as well as many other political figures) showed that the

previous Articles of Confederation was a sure failure. Unable to control foreign

affairs, financial problems, and rebellions, the Congress decided to revise the

Confederations. In a speech to the South Carolina House of Representatives

(Doc. H), Rawlin Lowndes explains the failures of the Confederation and the

demanding of a new and revised government with more central powers and more

regulations on the states. These changes were necessary to the Confederation

and the United States to secure justice and organization.

Overall, The Articles of Confederation did not provide an effective

government. It did not satisfy the people,unify the states, nor keep the people

financially and economically happy. The Confederation was too weak, while the

states had strong seperate government. The states had much of freedom and

independece. There were some great achievements which were the Bill of

Rights and the western land claims, but these achievements did not really help

the Congress to make a strong central government. These were good to the

states, gving them more rights and freedom, not the central government. Later

on, these problems would lead to a stronger central government in order to keep

an effective government.

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