What crisis were not addressed by the article of confederation. I have uploaded the file which tells you how to write the paper.
Background of the Articles of Confederation
On November 15, 1777, the Continental Congress adopted The Articles of Confederation (Rodell). It was United State’s first constitution that had undergone several ratifications in the later years. By March 1, 1781, the remaining thirteen states ratified the Articles of Confederation. However, it was found that the article had many loopholes as it had made the central government weak. A convention was held in Philadelphia from May 1787 to September 1787, which was attended by 55 delegates from 13 states. The most prominent personalities that attended the convention included George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton amongst others. Then, on March 4, 1789, it was replaced by the United States constitution.
As described in the writings of James Madison, during the 1787 convention, the deputies from the different states were assigned the task to revise the federal system. After selecting George Washington as the president of the convention, the committee then decided to appoint a secretary. On May 28, 1787, Mr. King, one of the deputies objected that any member must not be authorized to object or refute any declaration and enter them into the minutes (Rodell). According to Mr. King, the minutes would be filled with contradictions since opinions would vary frequently. Many other weaknesses came out to the fore that had not been addressed by the Article.
The Articles of Confederation came into being after a growing necessity felt by the citizens for some sort of organization. During the Revolution, several states created their own constitutions, which had ideas of equality and freedom. The first constitution made the nation a confederation wherein each state possessed sovereign powers. Nonetheless, it was quickly understood that the Article had more weaknesses than strengths. As stated by Fred Rodell, “the Articles created a loose confederation of sovereign states and a weak central government”. These led to the Constitutional Convention that took place in 1787 and the subsequent formation of the first constitution of the United States.
As highlighted by James Madison, the states had failed to fulfill the Constitutional demands. Further, the Article had unduly bestowed more powers to the state that led to many wars and treaties. These included the war by Georgia against the Indians, Virginia and Maryland involving in unlicensed compacts and so on. In addition, within a year after the Article was formed, there were violations by the states of the law of nations and the treaties. The Congress, which was formed because of the Article, was given very limited or no powers at all. It had the power to make the laws but not to implement these laws. The states had the power to ignore the laws if they did not support it.
Loopholes in the Articles of Confederation
In the above section, it has been mentioned that the Article had given undue powers to the thirteen states that came into existence after the Revolution. Due to the absence of a powerful central government, a series of restrictions emerged that further made the Article futile. Apart from that, the Article made the central government depend heavily on the states for financial assistance funding. The states were given the sole power to impose taxes and earn revenues. Another important reason for which the Article was considered a failure was that it proposed for each state to have their own currency. With no fixed currency, trading between states and foreign nations became extremely difficult.
The preparation for drafting the first Constitution of the free nation had begun in 1777 but it came into its actual being during the 1787-1789 periods. On 29 May 1787, the first article of the Articles of Confederation was formed. The first statement of the article declared that the government should comprise the “supreme legislative, executive and judicial powers” (Rodell). The article then went on to assign powers and authorities to the center and the states and describe the nature of power. One of the statutes in the first article states that each state must be fully trusted in terms of legislature and judicial proceedings. The article also mentioned that if amendments to the constitution were to be made, the agreement of two-thirds of the State Legislature should be enough and the Congress must abide by it. However, on May 30 1787, Mr. Randolph came up with the proposition that the Articles of confederation be corrected and enlarged (Rodell). He suggested that it was necessary to achieve the objectives for which the Articles were formed in the first place. These objects included security of liberty, common defense and general welfare.
As per the suggestions of Mr. Randolph, the union of states alone would not achieve the objects given by the Articles. He further suggested that it would not be sufficient in case of treaties that only the States act as sovereigns (Rodell). The most important suggestion presented by Mr. Randolph was the establishment of a national Government that would consist of the Legislative, Judiciary and executive. However, there was no clear mention for having a powerful national government. Many other who doubted whether Mr. Randolph wanted to reduce the power of the states completely contested his suggestions. After much debate and discussion, the deputies agreed that the Article had deficiencies that needed to be addressed. Mr. Mason was of the view that the Article lacked the provisions for coercing and punishing delinquent States. He however argued that the punishment must not be collectively given to the States but only to those individuals responsible.
Suggestions made during the Convention of 1787
The motion raised by Mr. Randolph had much significance since it paved the way for recognizing the importance of the Congress. Mr. Sherman from Connecticut also agreed that Articles of Confederation did not give much power to the Congress and that it was necessary to give it additional powers. Owing to these discussions, many amendments were made to the Articles. In the later years, the Articles of Confederation was largely modified and the central government was bestowed more power. The most important amendment made was in terms of currency. As the Articles had allowed each state to print its own currency, it created chaos and trouble for the traders. This was done away with in the later amendments.
The accounts of Alexander Hamilton also provide vital insights into the reasons the Articles of Confederation failed to address several crises. Mr. Hamilton had written a paper titled Other Defects of the Present Confederation in which he explained the ways the Articles of Confederation had failed to establish the true American nation (Loc.gov). He put forth three prime reasons. First, the Article did not give much power to the government to enforce laws. Second, the Article did not provide the states with the guarantee of their own rights. Third, the states were given complete freedom to even ignore the taxes levied upon by the central government. Hamilton feared that if states, fractions and parties were given unprecedented power, the Union would break into rival confederacies that would be targeted by European alliance systems.
While recounting the proceedings in Philadelphia during the 1787 and 1788 phase, Catherine Drinker Bowen speaks about the ‘miracle’ that few men did. In her book titled Miracle at Philadelphia: The Story of Constitutional Convention, Drinker touches all the minute details of that momentous event (Bowen). In her story, she mentions how the fifty-five men who had attended the convention from different states had heated arguments and debates. She also sheds light on the tension between the slave and anti-slave states, the powerful and less powerful states. This is also evident from the writings of Madison who has clearly indicated how the powerful states dominated the proceedings. Madison noted that smaller states like Delaware feared that if the Virginia Plan were initiated, they would be overshadowed. According to the Virginia Plan, the House members were to be nominated by the people and elected as well (Maier). On the other hand, the state legislatures had the responsibility to nominate the Senate members and the lower house was to elect the members. The smaller states feared that the larger states with more population would not let them be nominated or elected. This led to the ‘Connecticut Compromise’ introduced by Roger Sherman and Oliver Ellsworth. As per their proposal, state population would decide the allocation of the House members and then elected by the people. Further, Senate membership would be confined to two members per state irrespective of the state population.
Analyzing the resources that it was found while researching for the issues the Articles of Confederation failed to address, work of James Madison could be said to be most accurate. He was later known as the Father of the Constitution owing to his contribution to ratify the Confederation. As Madison was physically present during the events that unfolded during the Ratification, his accounts could be said to be most credible. However, in terms of providing information regarding the Article’s failure to address several issues, Madison’s notes lag behind. While on the other hand, Alexander Hamilton, another confederate present during the historic proceedings has made good observations regarding the weaknesses of the Article. Catherine Drinker Bowen’s work on the Articles of Confederation is probably the most elaborate and accurate. The author has managed to look at the event from a neutral perspective and provide an authentic explanation.
The analysis of the sources reveal that the Articles of Confederation adopted in 1777 had numerous drawbacks as it overlooked many issues. The most glaring issue that the Article failed to acknowledge was the ill effects of empowering the states completely. The result was that within a decade after its adoption, problems began to show up owing to the excessive power exercised by the states. As evident from the discussion above, the Convention of 1787 in Philadelphia was an attempt to rectify the blunders of the 1777 adoption. The 1777 Articles of Confederation had failed to establish a balance between the states and the Union. It had given all the powers to the states thus making the efforts of the Revolution futile. It had led to the undue oppression of the weaker states in the hands of the powerful ones. The need arose for a Convention to be held to rectify the mistakes and hence the Constitution of the United States came into being.
Bowen, Catherine Drinker. Miracle At Philadelphia: The Story Of The Constitutional Convention. Little Brown And Company, 1966.
Loc.gov. "Alexander Hamilton Papers: General Correspondence, 1734-1804; 1734-1772". The Library Of Congress, 2018, https://www.loc.gov/item/mss246120001/. Accessed 8 Nov 2018.
Maier, Pauline. Ratification: the people debate the Constitution, 1787-1788. Simon and Schuster, 2010.
Rodell, Fred. 55 Men, The Story Of The Constitution, Based On The Day-By-Day Notes Of James Madison. Stackpole Books, 1936.
To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below:
My Assignment Help. (2021). Articles Of Confederation: Weaknesses And The Constitutional Convention. Retrieved from https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/hist1301-department-of-history/constitutional-convention.html.
"Articles Of Confederation: Weaknesses And The Constitutional Convention." My Assignment Help, 2021, https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/hist1301-department-of-history/constitutional-convention.html.
My Assignment Help (2021) Articles Of Confederation: Weaknesses And The Constitutional Convention [Online]. Available from: https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/hist1301-department-of-history/constitutional-convention.html
[Accessed 25 February 2024].
My Assignment Help. 'Articles Of Confederation: Weaknesses And The Constitutional Convention' (My Assignment Help, 2021) <https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/hist1301-department-of-history/constitutional-convention.html> accessed 25 February 2024.
My Assignment Help. Articles Of Confederation: Weaknesses And The Constitutional Convention [Internet]. My Assignment Help. 2021 [cited 25 February 2024]. Available from: https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/hist1301-department-of-history/constitutional-convention.html.