Article of Confederation
After the outbreak of revolutionary war in the seventeenth century, the former United States wanted to have its own government to replace the British government. The article of confederation was quickly drafted and acted as the first constitution to the people of America. That particular constitution had so many limitations and controversial provisions that the Americans were opposed to. Among the controversies was that the congress was not allowed to pass laws before getting the approval of the congress. This was because of the fact that a big majority of the thirteen states had to pass a vote of agreement in order for the congress to be able to pass laws. The laws that were passed by the congress could also not be implemented due to lack of executives. The article did not create a provision for the executive to be in place. Lack of a national court in place was another area of controversy. People just broke the law at their own will because, after all, there were no courts where they could be prosecuted and brought to book. A grave matter that made the American citizens become bitter was because changing any part of the confederation was next to impossible. The main reason was that an overwhelming vote of all the states was necessary for changes to be made. Getting that unanimous vote was an uphill task that so difficult to achieve.
In the year 1777, the second continental congress was held in the land of Philadelphia. During that congress is when the first proposal was made on the articles of confederation. The articles took a period of four years from the time they were proposed for the first time for them to be fully implemented. The full ratification took place in the year 1781, and they took effect on that same. Interesting to note was that even though the articles became fully ratified, their reign did not last for long. They became obsolete after a very short period of time. Due to the several flaws of the articles of confederation, several attempts were made to replace it. Some of the problems that were linked with articles of confederation was the fact the congress had no any power to collect taxes and revenue for its daily operations. This meant that it was so difficult to take care of the expenses of the national government. It was so ironical that congress had the authority to ask for money yet it had no authority to force the various states to pay such amounts of money. The daily operations of the congress got paralyzed on many occasions because it could not pay out the debts of the nation. The congress found it so difficult to provide the government services to the citizens. The American states continued to increase at a faster rate during the brief period in which the article of confederation was used as the supreme laws of the land. This growth made it so difficult to govern the big number of the states which came to the existence by then. The main reason was that a central government was not in place. The Articles were then rendered futile because of the obvious reason that there was no any powerful national government in place.
Economic disorganization was inevitable because the congress lacked finances to run its daily operations. During the fight for its independence, America spent a lot of money to finance the operations of the struggle. So much money was used during that period. Towards of the end of the 1780’s America had accumulated so much debt yet it had the anxiety of competing economically. The nation was forced to struggle in paying off its debts. There were a lot of economic limitations in the Article of Confederation that made the American economic problem move from bad to worse (www.ushistoryscene.com/uncategorized/articlesofconfederation). Another problem with the articles of confederation was that the states were denied certain powers like making treaties with other states. They were also denied the power to either send or receive foreign ambassadors from other countries. It got to a more oppressive level where no person and state was allowed to receive appreciations from other kings and states in the form of gifts. The issuing out of noble titles was by any private individual, state or congress was also inhibited. A state was also not allowed to get into any other treaty or any form of the alliance with the other state without the full approval of the national congress.
All the states were not allowed to offer a fellow state any kind of military support during a period when the state is under attack. For any state to offer such kind of support then, it had to receive absolute permission from the congress. It was the sole responsibility of congress to determine whether it was necessary for a state to receive such kind of military support. Concrete reasons had to be given. For example, it had to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that such assistance would help in defending the state’s trade and forts. No, any particular state was allowed to start a military war without the approval of the senate. A state was only allowed to do so in a situation where it is necessary to defend itself in a situation where it faces a surprise attack from an external enemy. Nations that finally remained in the northern part of America faced a lot of threats. These threats specifically came from the British who had refused to leave the American soil. They posed a potential military threat from both the west and north. They even had the audacity to trade with the American natives in the great lakes regions and even offered them weapons that they later used against the States of America.
There were two competing plans for representation that emerged in the constitutional convention. On one, side, the slaves were to be partially counted in order to determine how the congressmen were going to be apportioned. This would in turn have an effect on the presidential election. On the other hand, powers were bestowed on the federal government in order for it to bring to an end the slave trade that was ongoing in Africa. So many limits were placed on the democratic government. A compromise had to be reached in order to solve the stalemate. It was unanimously decided that the slave trade was to be brought to an end and that the southern states were to ratify the constitution (Amar, 2012, 35). The bill of rights was included in the constitution in order to prevent the federal government from misusing the powers bestowed on it. This was because all the delegates had an experience of the brutality of the British colonies and how they abused their powers. Because of that experience, they needed a bill of right that spelt out the rights of every citizen. The bill of rights had to be included in order for the constitution to be ratified. Initially, each state was given a duty to decide who could vote in the federal and state elections. Only white men with property were allowed to vote during those periods. The section of the constitution which only allowed white men to vote was later amended to allow even the women to vote. It was later agreed that all those who had clocked 18 years and above were also allowed to vote (Bailyn, 2002, 50).
Amar, Akhil Reed. America's Unwritten Constitution (2012), 620p
Bailyn, Bernard. To Begin the World Anew: The Genius and Ambiguities Of the American Founders (Knopf, 2002), 185p