Articles of Confederation vs. the Constitution
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Shortly after the American Revolution was over, the United States of America was conceptualized, and from there emerged two possible forms of ruling. The government in the colonies set out to create the Articles of Confederation to prevent tyranny and be as traditional as possible. The Articles of Confederation gave the US government very little power over basic things such as taxation and raising an army. The Constitution was able to create a strong central government that united the country, and it is seen as a stepping stone to the eventual US Constitution since it wasn’t perfect.
The Articles of Confederation supported a system in which the states would possess more power than the federal government itself. In document A, a letter from Rhode Island Assembly to Congress presents us with evidence of a state’s power over Congress. Since there were thirteen separate constitutions for each of the thirteen states, it was difficult for Congress to pass a measure that was not outside of the limits of someone’s constitution. In document C, a letter from Delegate Joseph Jones of Virginia to George Washington explains why the states were given more power. Each individual state controlled taxation – not the federal government.
Compared to the Constitution, the Articles of Confederation lacked strength regarding state and federal relations. Document G talked about John Jay in a letter to Washington that pointed out the inefficiency and instability the Articles would bring about. The system would only lead to our demise because it was capable of sparking rebellion against tariffs and debt. In document B, the United States exports in the three years leading up to the end of the war, which were the first years of the Articles. Most European countries were against the United States’ resolution, resulting in economic barriers. Spain and France also snubbed the United States during their revolutionary period, impinging a fatal blow on the economy.
At this point, it was evident that the Articles of Confederation were not working out as well as Congress thought it would. Documents D and F are the epitomes of the weak government the Articles of Confederation made. There were constant battles between unclaimed territory, and each state had its own law concerning tariffs and navigation that were in conflict with the other state’s laws. In document H, written in the year of 1788, there are talks that involve discussions that considered changes in the Articles or restarting the entire thing from scratch. We have seen the many flaws of the Articles but hardly any good came out of it, therefore it only seemed logical that improvements should be made.
In conclusion, the Articles had failed to raise money through taxation, maintain a strong army, and enforce US rights in regards to other countries. The founding fathers realized their need for a stronger government, and ultimately agreed that a Constitution with the basic structure of a solid principle would be needed if the government of the US was to rule effectively.