The Articles of Confederation essay

The qualities an effective form of government should have are quality economic policies, good relationships with foreign nations, and domestic tranquility for its people. Without these important elements, a country cannot properly function. The Articles of Confederation were the United States first form of constitution. The Articles existed from 1781-1789. The Articles did not succeed in providing the US with an effective form of government; The Articles lacked a working executive and judicial branch.

The Articles did not have a strong grip on the areas that it was supposed to rule over. Infact, if a state did not wish to obey a tax or tariff, all that it had to do was send a letter to congress stating a rejection of it. (Doc. A) Rhode Island, a particularly rebellious state did so in November of 1782, in which a letter from the Rhode Island Assembly to Congress announced that Rhode Island would no longer respect an impost of imported goods.

Another domestic problem arose with New York and Virginia. The two states made claims to the same areas of land. In 1785, The Articles of Confederation birthed one of the only instances in which it aided the US. The Land Ordinance was formed. The Land Ordinance of 1785 required each state to give back claimed lands to the federal government. (Doc. E)

The United States could not pay former military money that they were owed for their services. Nor did the US have the funds to pay war debts owed to France. (Doc. C) Although this was not good foreign policy, other countries maintained their trade with the US. Remarkably, the value of US exports generally increased or stayed the same during the years in which The Articles of Confederation were in effect. (Doc. B)

The Articles were not only weak within it’s own territory, but showed a real lack of power in foreign policy with Britain. Many countries did not take the US seriously or recognize us as a country. England shut off America’s profitable trade with the West Indies, which would have had a greater effect on the young nation if it did not prosper in smuggling. Another complication that arose with the British during this time period was the location of British trading posts on soil. The British had kept the Indians on their side as an ulterior motive. Secretary of Foreign Affairs, John Jay, instructed the British to remove themselves from the trading posts and territories they inhabited. (Doc. D) Jay’s proposal was met with laughter and his wishes were not met.

After years of struggle with Spain to gain navigation on the Mississippi, an exasperated John Jay gave a speech to congress on negotiations with Spain’s Minister, Diego de Gardoqui. He asked the US to put navigation of the Mississippi river on the backburner. This portrays the US as a weak nation, once again. Jay should have been trying to fight for the use of the Mississippi. The Articles of Confederation were too weak to demand use and did nothing to aid with this conflict. (Doc. F)

In a letter from John Jay to George Washington in 1786, John Jay thought that the articles were taking away the common mans faith in their leaders. If this were true, it would signify that John Jay likened life under the US’s current constitution, The Articles of Confederation, to living in England. (Doc. G) Conservative, Rawlin Lowndes, of South Carolina, believed that even though the articles proved to be an ineffective form of government, it would be best to just add upon to the Articles rather than to change the United States form of constitution because people might find hardship in having to adapt to a new system. (Doc. H)

The Articles of Confederation proved to be a weak form of government that required change. The domestic, economic, and foreign policies of the United States under the Articles proved to be incapable. Although the previous statements are true, the Articles of Confederation, our nations very first form of constitution, made some significant advances for the US.

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