The Articles of Confederation

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How effective was the Articles of Confederation in solving the problems that confronted the new nation?

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The Articles of Confederation were the United States' first attempt at government. They were effective during the Revolutionary War when the states were able to pull together for a common cause, but after the war, the Articles soon proved to be unworkable. The nation as a whole incurred a lot of debt during the war, but the Articles lacked the power to compel the states to give money. The national government could only request money from the states. The states only wanted to pay what they regarded as their fair share, and in many cases Continental soldiers went without pay to the point that they lost their farms and businesses.  

The nation also lacked a cohesive defensive strategy. The states still had militias, but no one state was strong enough to stand up to the British in Canada or the Spanish in Florida. The Founders had a concern that the new nation would be attacked by established colonial powers on the continent. The national military was quite weak and getting weaker each day past the end of the Revolutionary War.  

The Articles of Confederation did get one thing correct—they ratified the Northwest Ordinance, which allowed new states to join the Union on an equal footing with the original colonies. This allowed the nation to grow. However, given the financial and defensive struggles the new nation faced, one can safely say that they Articles of Confederation was a failure.  

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The Articles of Confederation was not very effective in solving the problems that our country faced. However, there were reasons for this.

During the time when the Articles of Confederation was our plan of government, we had several problems. Our country faced financial problems. We had trouble paying our debt. There also was concern about the value of our currency. These problems existed because the federal government couldn’t levy taxes. Additionally, both the state governments and the federal government printed money.

We also had issues with other countries pushing us around. Great Britain and Spain were interfering with our trade. We had issues with Spain over the border with Florida and over the use of the Mississippi River. Since the government couldn’t make people join the military, we weren’t able to have a military response to these issues.

During the Articles of Confederation, states were not able to settle their disputes. This occurred because there was no court system.

The Articles of Confederation had difficulty responding to the problems our country faced. This occurred because the plan of government created by the Articles of Confederation created a weak federal government. Many people were concerned that a strong federal government would abuse its powers. Thus, while the government struggled to deal with the issues facing our country, there are explanations for these struggles.

Eventually, a meeting was held in Philadelphia to create a new plan of government.

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The Articles of Confederation were quite successful in a number of ways; although in the long run they proved too cumbersome to form a long term system of government.

The Articles had several accomplishments, not the least of which is that the Confederation Government was responsible for managing the War. It soon ran into trouble with finances, etc. but did provide some degree of central authority to whom General Washington, etc. responded.

Secondly, the two Northwest Ordinances were quite effective in dealing with the issue of Northwest lands. They provided an orderly scheme of division, a means of financing the debts of the Confederacy, and a system for the admission of new states into the Union on equal footing with other states as well as the all important provision that prohibited slavery in the new territories.

Conversely, without a strong executive and with no power to tax, the Confederation could not function well. It was formed to avoid the very problems from which the Americans had just escaped, and was more a marriage of convenience than a "more perfect union." The cumbersome procedure for voting (by states with a three quarters majority required to act) and its limitations on raising revenue were inherent weaknesses which would prove its undoing.

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