What do Articles VII and VIII mean in the Articles of Confederation?

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Articles VII and VIII of the Articles of Confederation are concerned with raising both armies and money in case of war. They highlight the weakness of the Articles of Confederation. The two articles in question allow the federal government to ask the states to provide troops and officers (Article VII),...

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Articles VII and VIII of the Articles of Confederation are concerned with raising both armies and money in case of war. They highlight the weakness of the Articles of Confederation. The two articles in question allow the federal government to ask the states to provide troops and officers (Article VII), but it is up to the states to comply. They are under no obligation to supply what is asked.

In Article VIII, the states are told the federal government will essentially bill each state for the cost of defense based on each state's capacity to pay. It is up to each state, however, to decide to foot the bill: there is no mechanism to force the states to provide the money.

As we can see, this is an almost impossibly precarious way to run a country. It was not viable for the US government to have to run begging to the individual states in case of war to supply troops and funds. If a wealthy state didn't approve of a war and withheld funds, this could spell disaster for the country as a whole.

The Articles of Confederation were devised to maximize both states' rights and individual freedoms (for white males) but needed to be strengthened if the United States was to becomes a strong, cohesive nation and not simply a loose confederation like the present-day European Union.

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The Articles of Confederation served as the first Constitution of the United States. It was ratified by the United States in 1781, before the colonies were yet an independent country. The Articles reflected the colonies' distrust of centralized power, as it created a weak federal government that had to defer to the power of the individual states in many cases.

Articles VII and VIII are concerned with raising and funding an army. These issues were problematic for the fledgling country during the Revolutionary War, and the weak nature of the government's power as determined by these articles made the war effort even more difficult for the colonies.

Here is Article VII:

When land forces are raised by any State for the common defense, all officers of or under the rank of colonel, shall be appointed by the legislature of each State respectively, by whom such forces shall be raised, or in such manner as such State shall direct, and all vacancies shall be filled up by the State which first made the appointment.

The article is saying that the states have the power to decide who will serve in the army that they raise, for ranks colonel and below. This leaves it to the federal government to appoint those who fill ranks higher than colonel.

Here is Article VIII:

All charges of war, and all other expenses that shall be incurred for the common defense or general welfare, and allowed by the United States in Congress assembled, shall be defrayed out of a common treasury, which shall be supplied by the several States in proportion to the value of all land within each State, granted or surveyed for any person, as such land and the buildings and improvements thereon shall be estimated according to such mode as the United States in Congress assembled, shall from time to time direct and appoint.

The taxes for paying that proportion shall be laid and levied by the authority and direction of the legislatures of the several States within the time agreed upon by the United States in Congress assembled.

This article states that money for fighting wars will be paid out of the “common treasury.” However, the power to tax is only given to the states. That means that the federal government had to wait for the states to levy, collect, and forward taxes to them, which was an extremely unreliable way to finance a government.

In 1789 the United States ratified the new Constitution, which resolved many of the weaknesses of the federal government, while still ensuring citizens' rights with the first ten amendments, which become known as the Bill of Rights.

 

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