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From 1781 to 1789, the Articles of Confederation Did Not Provide the United States with an Effective Government

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From 1781 to 1789, the Articles of Confederation did not provide the United States with an effective government. The purpose of the Articles of Confederation was to try to limit the power of the central government and eliminate the chance that the federal government could become too strong. However, the Articles of Confederation created a national government that could not effectively run the government largely due to lack of power given to Congress to regulate trade, levy taxes and ineffectiveness of foreign policy.

The Articles of Confederation did not give Congress power to effectively regulate trade. The statistics on the chart included show the United States population increased from 1784 to 1789, but the market value of exports to Great Britain did not increase in comparison to this population growth (Doc B). Without the power to regulate trade, Congress could not control export prices or taxes for exports to raise the amount of exports. After the American Revolution, America had the opportunity to increase their trade with other countries. If Congress would have had more control over trade, the market value of exports might have increased along with the increase in the United States population from 1784 to 1789.

Another weakness of the Articles of Confederation was its inability to levy taxes. Congress was unable to tax the states and, as a result, was unable to reduce the growing debt or provide a national military. In a letter to Congress, in 1782, Rhode Island rejected a federal taxation proposal from Congress saying the amount requested was "unequal in its operation, bearing hardest on the most commercial states." Rhode Island thought such amount would negatively affect the economy of their state (Doc A). Since the power to tax was given to the individual states and not the federal government, the articles had no way of enforcing such a proposed tax. Also, the government had no money to pay the military soldiers for their services after the American Revolution. In 1783, Delegate Joseph Jones of Virginia wrote a letter to George Washington unhappy with the delay of bonus and back pay for the soldiers of the American Revolution (Doc C). The inability to levy taxes was another weakness of the Articles of Confederation.

The Articles of Confederation were also ineffective with foreign policy. With no president, the government was vulnerable to take over by foreign countries because of their lack of respect for the United States. For example, Spain blockaded parts of the Mississippi River, America's main trading route that could have had a positive impact on America's economy. Without proper leadership, the United States was unable to gain use of the river. In 1786, John Jay made a speech explaining to Congress they should agree to a treaty with Spain (Doc F). In addition, in 1785, John Jay wrote to the United States Minister to Great Britain to ask him to plead with Great Britain to give the United



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