At the end of the 18th century, the United States was a new and struggling country. Although the Articles of Confederation provided enough organization for the United
States to win the Revolutionary War, it was too limited a framework of government to provide adequately for the new country. The Articles of Confederation did not help the fledgling country deal with its economic or foreign policy troubles.
In Addition, the Articles of Confederation did manage to keep the United States together as a functioning country between 1781 and 1789. Under the Articles of Confederation, each state agreed to recognize the other’s court rulings. They created a figurehead in the “presider” or president of the Congress; thereby demonstrating some degree of unity in the states. They were a basic organizational structure for the newly independent nation’s government. Most fearful of a tyrannical government, the Articles joined the thirteen states into a loose league of friendship, with each state a separate and independent entity. The Articles created a unicameral
Confederation Congress which worked well during the time of war. During the war it orchestrated an agreement with France after the Battle of Saratoga which brought France into the war, ultimately crucially aiding in the patriot success. The British were finally defeated at
Yorktown in 1781, but the Articles remained as the official organizational document of the
United States until the Constitution was ratified by nine out of thirteen states following the
Constitutional Convention of 1787. After the Revolutionary War the states turned over to the
Congress their land claims west of the Appalachian mountains. Then the Confederation Congress
passed the Ordinance of 1785 and the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 which provided for the orderly admission of new states into the union. (doc. E) These ordinances bravely dealt with the issue of slavery as well, indicating that slavery would be outlawed in the Ohio valley. They also provided for the creation of local government and schools in these new states.
A major weakness of the Articles of Confederation was its inability to deal with the economic crisis facing the new nation. The national debt was enormous and individual states owed war debts in the millions. The Confederation Congress couldn’t raise taxes. They relied on the states to voluntarily provide the Congress with financial backing. The Confederation
Congress wanted an import tax but Rhode Island adamantly refused. Rhode Island was economically aggressive and dominated by an elite business class and they didn’t want anything that would interrupt their commerce, nor did they want the Confederation Congress to have any such power. (doc A.) The Articles of Confederation did not allow the Confederation Congress to regulate commerce. It was very difficult to pass any laws to deal with these issues as well since
9/13 states were needed to pass a law and 13/13 to amend the Articles. Also, after the
Revolutionary War, the script printed by the Confederation Congress was worthless. This led to inflation and the devaluation of most investments. The market value of U.S. exports to Great
Britain understandably declined during the Revolution but in the 1780s did not remain proportional to the rising population. (doc. B.) In Massachusetts in 1786 when disgruntled Daniel
Shay and his supporters rebelled, the Confederation Congress was so broke that they had to get money from private…