Articles of Confederation
Throughout history, pivotal steps were made to set the guidelines for the United States of America. A country now based on freedom and rights was once a country based on imperialism and never-ending battles. Unity was difficult to find prior to the 1800’s until the “framers” settled disputes, leading to the Articles of Confederation and then to the Constitution. Following the Revolution, the so called “framers” created a document called the Articles of Confederation which contained both weaknesses and strengths, however, leading to the Constitution which is still the basis of the modern-day land.
Notably key men in history were the “framers” of the Constitution. Prior to the formation of the Articles of Confederation was the Continental Congress, which was a group of men from the thirteen colonies who discussed many issues within the government. The Continental Congress was a form of government during the Revolutionary War. The men met in Pennsylvania to discuss upcoming plans and to develop legislature within the government. Out of the 55 states, men “such as George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, as well as talented newcomers such as Alexander Hamilton and James Madison”. These “framers” helped to create a significant part of not only American History but also built a model for other countries to follow as well, the Articles of Confederation, which led to the formation of the Constitution. The framers helped to unify not only the country but the states as well. The framers argued about “representation and taxation” issues within the Continental Congress for their states to come to agreements. Moreover, the men created their own parties which consisted of the federalists who were for the constitution, and those who were against the constitution or the antifederalists. As the men attempted to settle their differences and fight for their states’ rights, the Articles of Confederation was formed which consisted of many weakness and strengths, which they were determined to settle, influencing the constitution.
Furthermore, the Articles of Confederation was full of many problems, forcing conflicts among much of the nation, eventually leading to many successes. Without an executive power, the delegates continued to have a “constant turnover of representatives and instability”. The framers were unable to accomplish much at their meetings with a lack of representatives from the states, the divided country did not see the urgency. Moreover, another issue was the debt accumulated after the war, forcing the states to take on that responsibility, leading to a rebellion. Without the ability for the national government to tax citizens, “the states had fallen behind nearly 80 percent in providing the funds that Congress requested to operate the government and honor the national debt” . A rebellion was sparked by a man named Daniel Shay’s, whom was “paid with script”. As he disputed the script with a group of farmers who wanted hard currency, causing a riot he even “managed to shut down the courts in five counties in Massachusetts”. Shay’s Rebellion, brought light to the issue of taxes within the Articles of Confederation and how the national government is limited, proving the states had more control. Representation among the states was also another issue. Under the articles, “the national government consisted of a single-chamber Congress, elected by the state legislatures, in which each state had one vote”. The unicameral legislature did not give equal representation in the government or to the states based on size or population, leading later to the New Jersey and Virginia Plans and a bicameral legislature. All in all, the states had more rights leading to disputes within the national government forcing change, thus leading to the constitution which is still a model today.
Of course, the Articles of Confederation consisted of many weaknesses, but there were also many successes that the Articles created. The Articles of Confederation unified the colonies and implemented a system to organize the land. First established was the “the Ordinance of 1785, which outlined procedures for surveying the land” . This was the first step to set the stage for towns and have organized areas for communities. This was a success because previously, the thirteen colonies were more so divided to their individual communities within. Another major success of the Articles of Confederation was the Northwest Ordinance in 1787. This Ordinance, “Defined the steps for the creation and admission of new states. It designated the area north of the Ohio River as the Northwest Territory and provided for its later division into states. It forbade slavery while the region remained a territory”. There were two main key points in the Northwest Ordinance. One was that the territory allowed for the formation of new states, allowing them to be a part of the union. Previously, an undivided large chunk of land now had a purpose. Furthermore, another key point was that slavery was banned while it was a territory. Forcing the freedom of many slaves and preventing further occurrences. Both Ordinances were pivotal into the future formation of the United States, not only with the creation of new states but also the basis of freedom within. Without the Northwest Ordinance, slaves would be a larger part within the North, potentially creating more slave states. Certainly, there were far more weaknesses within the Articles of Confederation, but the successes within, were very important for the future of the United States.
As time continued during the 1700’s the Articles of Confederation resulted in the creation of the Constitution due to both their weaknesses and successes. As the framers previously encompassed many differences and divided into the antifederalists and the federalists, one of their goals was to unify the states. The Constitution was created as a result of this to help settle the issues under the Articles of Confederation. Under the constitution, an executive power was established, creating a role for a “president and judges”. This executive system was important to establish that the national government and specifically the Constitution was “the supreme law of the land”. Without the failures of the Articles of Confederation, such as the dispute between the state and national governments place within authority and laws, the Constitution would not have been needed, nor would an executive branch be put into place. Another failure that led to change within the Constitution was the dispute of states representation and voting rights. One major outcome was both the New Jersey and Virginia Plans. The Virginia Plan helped the larger states creating a “bicameral legislature and fixed representation in both houses of Congress proportionally to each state’s population”. On the other hand, the New Jersey Plan evened the playing field for small states, “which recommended a single-chamber congress in which each state had an equal vote, as under the Articles”. Finally both of these plans led to one single plan called the Great Compromise, which was “each state would have an equal vote in the upper house while representation in the lower house would be based on population”. For the disputes continued for a long time, the states finally settled over representation creating a unified plan. Once a unicameral legislature with one vote per state, became a bicameral legislature with equal representation. Thus, explaining that the failures of the Articles contributed to the Constitution making it a pivotal point in history that the framers helped to change.
Certainly, the framers devoted their lives to setting up the future of the United States, along the way weakness and success erupted. Without the failures of the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution would not be present. As the Constitution is a basis for modern day law, the framers overcame many problems such as representation, taxes, and power. Specifically, power within the states and a lack of power within the Constitution led to a federal government with more control. Shays’ Rebellion also led to much change within the country forcing them to look at the issues within their tax and currency system. Also, the Northwest Ordinance was a positive aspect of the Articles of Confederation, many of the failures direct led to the Constitution. The framers were able to agree on a Constitution because the catered to both sides of every issue creating many compromises. Reluctant at first, the delegates continued to meet, discussing and amending the Articles of Confederation.
Articles of Confederation