AP American History
Essay- Articles of Confederation 9/30/96
It would have been very difficult to run an effective government under the Articles of Confederation. Many of the great minds politically active after the American Revolution realized this; thus arrived the birth of one of the greatest political documents of all time: The Constitution. With the implement of the Constitution, the United States government became effective.
The product of some of the greatest minds to ever exist in this world, the Articles did have some positive effects on society. It successfully put an end to the Revolutionary War, it negotiated a favorable end to the war in the Treaty of Paris, and created a model for the admission of new territories courtesy of the Northwest Ordinance. Nonetheless, it was much too weak to give the new nation the necessary foundation on which the growth of society could be started from.
For one thing, any amendment of the Articles required a unanimous vote throughout the colonies. Since this was almost impossible, there always being two sides to everything [a pro and a con], changing the Articles to eliminate the ideas that did not function properly was near impossible. Another factor of the Articles' ineffectiveness was that Congress was in essence tied in its authority. After the war, the colonists trusted no ultimate authority; not even one they designed. It could not regulate commerce, so what resulted was thirteen colonies with different taxations and tariff laws. This only added to the already present feelings of dislike and distrust which had existed between the colonies since they were first established.
After this period of eight years, the "Critical Period", the light at the end of the tunnel arrived with Thomas Jefferson writing the Constitution. It delegated the power, at the discretion of the people. It was designed to be amended; the great minds who designed it realized that they themselves were not infallible, and could make mistakes. The beauty of the Constitution was that it allowed for these mistakes. Instead of the outrageous unanimous vote of states to change it, two-thirds of Congress and then three-fourths of the states must approve. It ensured that no one section of government could grow so powerful to the point that it could be considered a Parliament through the Checks and Balances. It promoted unity in that Congress would now regulate all interstate and foreign commerce; this eliminated many disputes since there was a simple majority rule to pass laws. The unification of the colonies was beginning.
Thus, it is observed that the Articles of Confederation were without a doubt weak and ineffective. Nonetheless, they were a necessary step in laying the foundation for the construction of the Constitution. It showed the basic ideas of democracy, and the Constitution was used in the expansion and enforcing of those ideas.
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