The Articles of Confederation

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What arguments could be made in support of the Articles of Confederation?

As a starting point in American democracy and government, the Articles of Confederation have several positive aspects that are sometimes overlooked, such as protecting the rights of individual states.

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The Articles of Confederation have been much maligned and considered by many historians as a failure. Despite the near-universal agreement among historians the Articles of Confederation were ineffective in forming a new government, several aspects of the document were somewhat groundbreaking. For one, the Articles of Confederation proposed a radically different alternative to governance than the traditional European idea of democratic practice and parliamentary government. Another interesting but less known point, and as odd as this may seem in modern times, is simply that the Articles of Confederation was a single written document. The British government is the result of several various documents, not a single constitution.

The Articles of Confederation was a compromise and, as such, was the first attempt at organizing the American states under one banner. It provided the leaders with a model to reconvene a constitution committee and organize around a more sophisticated document, the Constitution of the United States. Several components of the document are found in the Constitution. For example, the notion of state sovereignty or the states' ability to act independently of the federal government under certain circumstances. While states were able to conduct global trade, Congress retained the right to make treaties and facilitate exchange through one negotiation. Congress could borrow money and raise a military. These items allowed the United States to remain independent. Another point often overlooked is that Americans could travel from state to state without hindrance from the government.

While the Articles of Confederation is not historically considered a smashing success, a good argument can be made that much of the criticism of the document is too much vested in what happened immediately after ratification than what occured later in American history, the Constitutional Convention. A strong case can be made the Articles of Confederation laid the groundwork for the convention.

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