Articles of Confederation
The Articles of Confederation did not properly address the issues of the new and growing nation. The Articles of Confederation left the central government weak and ineffective to deal with the problems that the nation faced.
The way that the Articles of Confederation addressed the problems of setting up a national government, state unification and boundaries, as well as loyalties was not effective at all. Overall, the Articles of Confederation were not effective in addressing the issues of the new nation. The Articles of Confederation left the national government weak and ineffective. Under the Articles of Confederation, Congress was powerless to collect taxes, enforce acts of Congress, and regulate trade between the states. In other words, the United States National Government under the Articles of Confederation was essentially a political symbol with no real power.
The American Revolution was not a cheap war. There were many debts that needed to be paid off, but because Congress was unable to raise the money from taxes, Congress had to rely on other sources, such as the states. Oftentimes, these debts were not repaid to the states, making the states more hesitant to let the national government borrow money. This left America in a monetary crisis which led to rebellions such as Shay’s Rebellion. Shay’s Rebellion was an uprising in Massachusetts that protested the closing of farms due to the inability to make payments. The members of Shay’s Rebellion closed the courts and forced the creditors not to foreclose on their homes and farms.
The state militia put down Shay’s Rebellion, but the point was clear. The debt needed to be paid somehow. However, the national government was unable to do so due to their bind with the Articles of Confederation, which prohibited them from levying taxes. Even if Congress had passed a law that would solve the financial problems, there would have been no way for them to enforce it. Congress could only exercise the powers that it did have with nine out of the thirteen states’ votes, let alone enforce legislature that it passed.
The majority of the power was held by the states. Another weakness of the national government under the Articles of Confederation was the limitation on the regulation of trade. The national government could not regulate trade among the states. They had no control over were the revenue of the states went. The Articles of Confederation were not effective in dealing with the problem of national government, because under the Articles of Confederation, the national government was weak.
Another problem facing the nation under the Articles of Confederation was the unification of the thirteen states. The states were arguing over territory. There were arguments over western land claims, charter claims, and arguments between the landed and landless states. When the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783, officially marking the end of the American Revolution, the Americans were granted the land to the Mississippi River. The states began jumping at the bit to mark the new territory as theirs.
In order to determine who the land legally belonged to, many looked to the charters. However, these charters provided little relief and discernment and were more often than not a source for contention. The charters often granted land to more than one country, thus making the territories uncertain and undefined. On top of all of this, the landed and landless states were fighting over who should be allowed to have what land. Landed and Landless states went to Congress over the issue of revenue due to the selling of western land claims.
Disputes characterized the states under the Articles of Confederation. They were not a nation trying to succeed, but many “small nations” constantly in competition with each other. Nationalism was a not a concept of the nation, but of the states. Thomas Jefferson of Virginia stated “Virginia, sir, is my country.” This shows that the people of each state had nationalism to their state first and foremost, not their country. Each state had its own constitution, courts, and government.
The states were united within the state, but not with each other. Many states thought of allying themselves with other, more powerful countries or joining these countries altogether. They needed the financial and military support that these countries were able to give. Other states thought of sectioning themselves off and becoming independent countries of their own. Essentially, under the Articles of Confederation, there was no unity. The Articles of Confederation did not provide a basis for unification.
In conclusion, the Articles of Confederation were not effective in dealing with the problems of the new nation. They addressed setting up a national government, state unification and boundaries, and loyalties in an ineffective manner. The Articles of Confederation left the nation in turmoil and disorder. A better solution was needed for the growing, unstable country of America.