What were the positives and negatives of the Confederation era? How did the construction of both the Constitution and Bill of Rights reflect the need for maintaining a republic but strengthening...

What were the positives and negatives of the Confederation era? How did the construction of both the Constitution and Bill of Rights reflect the need for maintaining a republic but strengthening the national government?

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mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In this post, you are asking two questions, I will answer the first question and then will briefly address the other question.

The Articles of Confederation was the name of our first plan of government. It had some successes and many weaknesses. It is important to remember that this plan of government was designed to be a weak plan of government.

The Articles of Confederation allowed the United States to start functioning as a country. It was also designed to prevent any person or group from having too much power. We fought for our independence, in part, because we thought the King of England abused his power.

The government created by the Articles of Confederation developed an orderly plan to sell western land. The Land Ordinance of 1785 created townships that were divided into squares. People could buy land in these squares. This was an excellent way for the government to raise money. This law was one of the successes of the Articles of Confederation.

The government also developed an effective plan for bringing territories into the country as states. The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 allowed a territory to petition Congress for statehood upon reaching a population of 60,000 people.

Because the plan created a weak federal government, there were problems. The federal government couldn’t tax people. This made it hard for the government to raise money and pay its debts. The federal government also couldn’t require that people join the military. This made it hard for the government to deal with countries that were pushing us around, such as Spain and Great Britain. Another issue was that there were no federal courts to help states resolve disputes that they had with each other. There also were times the federal government had trouble keeping order, as was seen with Shays’ Rebellion.

Because of these weaknesses, a decision was made to meet in Philadelphia to consider developing a new, stronger plan of government. This led to the development of the Constitution. The Constitution was created to correct some of the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation while keeping our country as a republic. For example, the federal government had the right to levy taxes. The Constitution also created a court system, which was part of the judicial branch. However, to prevent any person or part of government from having too much power, many states insisted that a Bill of Rights be added to the Constitution. An agreement was made to add the Bill of Rights to the Constitution. The Bill of Rights was the first ten amendments to the Constitution.