The Articles of Confederation

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How did the Articles of Confederation affect relations with other nations?

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In the aftermath of the American Revolutionary War, the Articles of Confederation acted as a sort of prelude to the Constitution of the United States. The Articles went through several drafts but were finally approved by the Second Continental Congress on November 15, 1777. After ratification by all the states,...

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In the aftermath of the American Revolutionary War, the Articles of Confederation acted as a sort of prelude to the Constitution of the United States. The Articles went through several drafts but were finally approved by the Second Continental Congress on November 15, 1777. After ratification by all the states, the Articles came into effect on March 1, 1781.

Under the terms of the Articles of Confederation, the 13 states remained free and sovereign, and Congress served as a central government that consolidated the Union. It did not have the power to regulate commerce or levy taxes. It did, however, have the authority to coin money, create a postal service, maintain an army and navy, manage affairs with Native Americans, declare war, and make treaties with foreign nations.

The inherent weakness of the central government as defined in the Articles of Confederation made the implementation of foreign policy difficult. For instance, the final ratification of the Treaty of Paris that formally ended the war with Great Britain was delayed because there were too few delegates in Congress to constitute a sufficient quorum. The inability to raise taxes left Congress unable to fund a navy sufficient to protect American shipping.

Hoping that the loose confederation of states would collapse, Britain did its best to hinder American commerce and prosperity. Spain was an ally during the Revolutionary War, but after the war it became suspicious of U.S. expansion. Despite the obstacles it put up along the frontiers, however, Spain began to trade more with the new United States than it had before. Disagreements between various states hindered this trade. Before the implementation of the Articles of Confederation, the United States had signed trade agreements with its ally France, and these agreements continued to remain in effect after the Articles were ratified.

We can see, then, that relations with other nations carried on through the era of the Articles of Confederation, but they were hindered by the limits the Articles imposed on Congress.

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The Articles of Confederation affected relations with other countries. Once we became independent from British rule, we developed a plan of government called the Articles of Confederation. The Articles of Confederation gave Congress the power to deal with other countries.

However, the Articles of Confederation created a very weak federal government. Thus, while Congress could deal with other nations, Congress couldn’t force people to join the military. When we had a border dispute with the Spanish over where the border of Spanish Florida and the United States really was, there was little we could do about the dispute since our military was too weak to fight the Spanish. The same was true when Britain wouldn’t leave the western forts. Additionally, when Spain and Great Britain interfered with our trade, there was very little we could do about it because we didn’t have much of a military. The military also was poorly equipped.

As a result of the weak federal government that was created by the plan of government called the Articles of Confederation, our relations were strained with other nations because they were taking advantage of our weak, understaffed military. These countries knew the government couldn’t do much about these actions because our government didn’t have the power to require soldiers to serve in the army. Our government also didn’t have the power to create a strong financial system that would have helped provide supplies for the military. Additionally, our government couldn’t negotiate trade treaties with other countries. The weaknesses of the government created by the Articles of Confederation negatively impacted our relations with other countries.

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