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The Effectiveness of the Articles of Confederation

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The Effectiveness of the Articles of Confederation

The Articles of Confederation was an agreement signed between the original 13 colonies to officially establish the United States of America as a confederation of sovereign states. The articles also served as the United States' first constitution. Although the Articles of Confederation seemed to have done a lot for the newfound nation, it was actually very ineffective in solving the problems that confronted the United States. Not only did the Articles of Confederation fail to develop a strong federal government, it also failed to set up an effective money system and the ratification of any decision was very difficult.

When the Articles of Confederation was first signed, the thirteen states feared a powerful central government due to their previous experience with Great Britain. The Continental Congress, which is a group of delegates sent by each of the states to write the Articles of Confederation, wanted to give the states as much independence as possible and prevent the central government from interfering with most issues. Due to this fact, they made the federal government have a limited amount of power. Under the Articles, the Congress had the ability to regulate foreign affairs, war, postal service, Indian affairs. It also gave the Congress the right to determine the value of the coins, ability to issue bills of credit, and borrow money. However, none of these abilities could be enforced because the Articles gave the Congress absolutely no power. This eventually led to the effectiveness of a central government to decrease and break down. Generally, the Articles did not grant the Congress any power necessary for the effective governing of the newfound nation, the United States. An example of the Congress's powerlessness can be seen in Article 10 of the Articles of Confederation. Regardless of what decisions the federal government makes, nine out of thirteen states must agree in order for any decision to pass. Shay's Rebellion in 1787 was a representation of how weak the federal government truly was. Not only did Massachusetts have to create a militia to be used as a private army to put down the rebellion, but the lack of any response at all by the federal government showed that the Articles of Confederation had to be reevaluated to make the federal government have more power to enforce its rulings. Furthermore, the Congress was not able to force all the states to adhere to the terms of the Treaty of Paris of 1783. Some states even started negotiating with foreign countries by themselves. This showed just how weak and powerless the federal government was under the Articles of Confederation.

Another example of the ineffectiveness of the Articles of Confederation is the Congress's inability to create a money system throughout the United States. Although the Articles gave the Congress the ability to determine the value of metal in the coins, the Congress did not have the power to enforce this in all of the states. Each state eventually started making its own money. By having a different value for coins in each state, it led to much confusion and even inflation in some cases. The economy was extremely unstable. The Congress also did not have the ability to tax and regulate commerce. By lacking taxing authority, the Congress would never be able to



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