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The Articles of Confederation

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Luke Bailey

on 16 October 2018

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Transcript of The Articles of Confederation

The Articles of Confederation
So now what?
So we won the war. Yay.

But now the colonies, now the United States of America, have to figure out how to rule themselves.

State Constitutions
The states began having a grand old time writing up their own

Why are the states making their own constitutions? Why can't everyone just share one?
Limiting Power
States wanted to ensure that no one person had too much power- they weakened the role of governor and put most power in the hands of the legislatures.

Most also made their legislatures
,meaning it had multiple houses that could check each other (kind of like our Senate + House of Reps.)
Articles of Confederation
After much debate, the Continental Congress drew up their own plan of government called the Articles of Confederation. They were adopted in November 1777 and were finally ratified by all states after the war.

The whole point of the Articles was to keep the federal government as weak as possible.

All congress could do was foreign affairs, take care of the military, borrow money, and issue currency.

It COULD NOT regulate trade, impose taxes, or really anything else that we now associate with government. That was left to the states.
Financial Problems
You already know about Continental Dollars and how worthless they were. People were still using foreign gold and silver to buy things. Prices skyrocketed and some cities even had bread riots.

Also, America had a large amount of war debt that needed to be paid- problem was, the Articles didn't let the Federal government tax. They could ask the states nicely, but that was it.
Problems with Britain
Britain was also getting annoying. Remember, they said in the Treaty of Paris they would remove all their troops. Well, that didn't happen. The British still held forts around the Great Lakes.

When we complained, they said American merchants weren't paying back their debts. Which was true, since the Articles of Confederation didn't give Congress that authority to force them to.

They sent John Adams to sort this out.
FUN FACT!!!!!!!!!!!?
If you really want to be a jerk, you can annoy people in trivia by pointing out the George Washington actually wasn't the first American president.

Under the articles, we had a "president of the congress" who led procedures. Our first was a man named Samuel Huntington.
This Government has Problems
The government was hamstrung by the Articles. First of all, each state got one vote in the Continental Congress, regardless of population. So Delaware got as much say in things as Virginia or New York. As you can imagine, this did not please the more populated states.

Also, no law could be passed unless 9 out of the 13 states agreed to something. Also, the Articles could not be changed unless everyone agreed! (unanimous)
Robert Morris' Import Tax
In 1781, facing these challenges, a Philadelphia merchant and congressman had an idea. He proposed that an import tax of 5% be placed on all goods. In order to do this, we needed to change the Articles to allow the Federal government to tax people.

12 out of the 13 states agreed that this was a good idea. But Rhode Island disagreed. Tiny, insignificant Rhode Island. So it didn't happen.
In Conclusion
The Articles of Confederation are horrible because they don't give the Federal Government enough power.

We need something different, but no one agrees on what that "something different" will be yet.
Full transcript