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Articles of Confederation Essay

Success comes from failures; throughout history, great nations have learned from their past defeats and have emerged victorious. The United States of America is no exception. With the collapse of the colonial governments, the beginnings of the federal union in 1774 commenced and an alliance formed between the 13 colonies. A preliminary constitution was drafted, also known as the Articles of Confederation. It is widely regarded as a failure but it led to the creation of the constitution that we have today. The Articles of Confederation was written to unify the states; in the process, the document encountered various failures and accomplishments. There is strength in numbers so the newly formed government of the New Americas decided to unify the states. The union between the states proved successful in the American Revolution hence it was logical that they would stay connected.

The Articles of Confederation was designed specifically to legally bond the states together under one authority. Yet each individual state “[retains] its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right…” To all outward appearances, there are contradictions in the document. However, the new-found country is merely settling a balance of powers between the state and federal government; the state will have individual power while the federal government will supervise the country as a whole. Under the reign of King George III, the colonists had different obstacles. With independence, came new problems. Therefore, the Articles of Confederation finds solutions to the grievances that were previously mentioned in the Declaration of Independence. The colonists pioneered establishing a state government with democratic tendencies.

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Taken from the Articles of Confederation, they adamantly insisted on electing, ” …members of the committee of the United States.” to participate in Congress. Before 1774, the colonists were held under oppression by the British. They are preventing another mutiny by ensuring that the individual people and states have a voice in government through elected officials. Although the implementation Articles of Confederation was more of a learning experience, it also had a few accomplishments along the way. The political document allowed the 13 colonies to take small steps towards becoming a confederation. They began to communicate and collaborate. In order for a law to be passed, nine out of the 13 states must have had to vote in favour of it. Representatives from each colony must have agreed to some degree in order for the government to run smoothly. They built new relationships and maintained connections. While they were working together, the states maintained their separate governments.

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The New Americas recently ended a war over independence and they were not about to renounce any rights that they gained to a new governing body. England had oppressed them for too long so the colonists decided against a single central government in exchange for a multitude of local governments. With several authoritative governments, conflict arose. The states were unable to establish borders without quarrelling. The Land Ordinance of 1784 and the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 instituted a system that was set up for the purpose of surveying and dividing western lands. It created an organized and civil method to distribute land. First, the colonist disputed with the French about the ownership of the Appalachian Mountains; the disagreement led to a costly war. Soon after, the colonist and the British fought over the same territory and that led to war.

The Articles of Confederation prevented past mistakes from re-occurring and halted a potential civil war. However, it did not withhold the test of time. The founding fathers could not ignore the innumerable faults in the Articles of the Confederation. The United States was unable to prosper under the guidelines of the articles. The Articles of Confederation did not stipulate the role of the president, the most important individual in the federal government. Unfortunately, the president was not assigned specific responsibilities; therefore, he could not lead the country successfully. Due to the lack of specifications, the United States did not have a strong central federal government because of the absence of leadership. More importantly, the Articles of Confederation did not give the federal government the right to tax. Referencing the Articles of Confederation, the national government was merely allowed to ask the states for money. This regulation was a disastrous mistake; it produced negative outcomes.

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The Independence War left the new colonies with tremendous debt that they were unable to pay off since the central government could not tax the states. A great economic depression followed as a result. Subsequently, Massachusetts attempted to solve its finance problems by implementing a stamp act. One of the colonies resorted to a failed British tactic. England needed to pay its debt from the French and Indian so they employed a stamp on the colonies. It created an uproar in the New Americas in both accounts because the colonists felt overtaxed and underrepresented. Shay’s Rebellion was a direct result of the new tax. Farmers were outraged and disrupted a meeting at Hampshire Country Court in 1786. Which in turn illustrates that the Articles of Confederation failed to prevent the repeat of past mistakes. The Articles of Confederation is a prime example of a good “bad example”. It was created to lay down a foundation for the new nation; however, it did not perform the task flawlessly. The document did have a few achievements but it was not an overall success. The Articles of Confederation was a key stage for the United States to get to where it is today.

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Articles of Confederation Essay. (2021, Jun 20). Retrieved September 30, 2022, from