The Articles of Confederation were adopted by the Continental Congress and they functioned as America’s first constitution in the year 1777. However, with progressive changes, ratifications were made to the Articles of Confederation by the beginning of March 1781 (Schultz 112). It is important to highlight the reasons as to why the Articles of Confederation were important to the American population and the American government at the time. This will help to understand why the constitution failed, and areas where it benefited the country.
Ultimately, an understanding of the Articles of Confederation based on how they were implemented will help to effectively understand the development of America as it is known today, with the current constitution and a deferral government. The Articles was an agreement that took place among the first 13 states in the United States, which served as the country’s first constitution. The document was initially drafted by a committee that as appointed by the continental congress on July 1776 (Schultz 112). By November 1777, a clear draft was sent out to all the thirteen states for their approval and for implementation.
However, ratifications took place in March 1781, after all thirteen states approved of the regulations (Schultz 113). The Articles were formed under the guiding principle that they would function to preserve the sovereignty of the states along with their independence. Furthermore, the federal government did not have powers over the states other than those recognized to belong to the parliament and the king. The main reason behind the development of the Articles was because they weakened the central government, thereby giving more power to the sovereign states.
Americans were in a position whereby the resented the colonial powers and the influence they had on their development. Therefore, decentralizing the federal government allowed states to operate independently and be in a positon where they would influence their own decisions. Furthermore, it created a loose confederation of the states, and as such, each state could govern itself based on what they felt to be right. However, with time, it became apparent that there was a need for a more central government to intervene in the operations of the states.
The main advantage that influenced the 13 states to advocate for the ratification of the Articles was the fact that it gave them more independence to govern themselves (Schultz 115). More power was handed to the state governments at the expense of the federal government. As a result, it was easier for states to carry out their own activities and venture into businesses without the approval of the government. By weakening the federal government, the Articles also regulated taxation and they eliminated the need for a middleman with regards to making trades with other communities.
Eventually, the states felt that they benefited from this agreement. In addition to that, states had the freedom to make deals with other foreign countries without the interference of the federal government. At the time, different states were known for different ventures ranging from agriculture to other income-generating activities. However, the federal government interfered with the distribution of products mainly since it had established and made deals with different countries regarding trade.
As such, the Articles allowed states to efficiently carry out trade with other countries regardless of their relationship with the federal government (Schultz 117). It also allowed them to borrow or offer financial aid to other states at an interest rate, instead of borrowing from the government. This ensured that the states were self-reliant, and that they could efficiently sustain themselves without the interference of the government. The main disadvantage of the Articles is that the national government had no influence over state affairs including their laws.
In this sense, if a state declined to follow the laws of the country, then the federal government would have to adhere to that. In addition to that, many states declined to pay taxes to the federal government, thereby making it weaker and less influential over state activities (Schultz 117). The Article outlined that the states would only need to pay taxes if they wanted to, and they did not consider the negative impacts that this would have had on the stability of the country. With regards to trade, each state placed their own tariffs on the importation and exportation of goods across states and countries.
This aspect gave a competitive advantage to some states at the expense of others. As a result, some of the states were not able to from their business dealings while others increased their profits significantly. Law enforcement was also allocated to state authorities. The federal government had no influence over how laws were enforced and different states implemented different laws. Due to the differences in structure and opinion, there was no cohesion among members of the Congress, an aspect that further made it difficult for them to agree on important matters governing the country.
The leadership was not strong and steady, and this negatively affected how decisions were made. It is important to point out that the varying policies and laws made it difficult for a specific structure to be implemented whereby law enforcement would ensure fairness and justice in its delivery. In addition to that, there was no central army for the government and the country in general. Each state had its own enforcement army, and they only sought to protect themselves internally.
As a result, the absence of an army implied that America was susceptible to external attacks not only from the British but from other countries with the desire to take over their land. It is also important to point out that there were no national courts to handle crucial cases, and each state handled their cases differently. Furthermore, there was no guarantee that people would join the army if they were required to fight in a war, and this proved to be a weakness for America. Many countries had a specific group of men who had the responsibility of protecting their countries, but this was not the case for the American states.
After the end of the American Revolution, it became evident to the population that there was a need for a more central government to monitor and oversee various activities unlike the state governments. People saw the dangers of not having a federal army defending them and other regulations implemented in the Articles proved to be failing. Furthermore, since there was no direct taxation, the federal government had little to no influence over how trade was carried out and this gave a competitive advantage to other states. In the absence of the federal government, America appeared to be weak and it could not defend itself.
Furthermore, interactions with other countries did not benefit America as a whole since they were only focused on particular states (Schultz 118). There was a need for a central government that would focus on the needs of all Americans and interact with other countries on their behalf. In addition, a central government would ensure that there was equal distribution of resources among all the states, thereby guaranteeing that inter-state conflicts were mitigated. In the year 1788, a new Constitution was drafted and distributed across all the 13 states for ratification (Schultz 123).
It was initially a challenge for it to get accepted since many states did not want to relinquish their power. By the month of October in the same year, the new constitution was approved, by a total of nine states out of the thirteen. Under the federal government it was important to elect a new president who would oversee the operations of the country along with a new government. Finally, the Articles of Confederation were eliminated and in their place, a new constitution was introduced. By the time of the changes, New York was made to be the capital of the nation, where all central offices and structures would be located.
Despite the benefits offered by the articles of Confederation, many state leaders felt the need to support a more central government as it was difficult to monitor and regulate trade within the country’s borders, and this gave some states an upper hand in trade (Schulz 121). However, other states were affected by these sales and a central government helped to stabilize the structures while ensuring that all states had sufficient resources to sustain themselves. In the end, a central government was crucial in establishing stability in America.
The Articles of Confederation were important in allowing for the independence of states and ensuring that they could govern themselves while benefiting from their own profits. However, it fails to consider the ultimate impacts of not having a central government or a permanent army. Furthermore, trade routes and treaties were unregulated, and this gave a competitive advantage to some states at the expense of others. Ultimately, there was a need to change this entire setting, to embrace one whereby a central government was in charge of all the activities taking place and it would influence the laws and regulations across America.