The Articles of Confederation

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The Articles of Confederation were drafted by John Dickerson in 1776 and were submitted to the states for ratification in November 1777. The Articles were not ratified until March of 1781, since it was required that all states ratify the document. Many states had problems with the Articles and through several compromises, the document was made to suit all the states. Although the Articles provided the United States with an adequate form of government, there were many weaknesses in the document that needed to be fixed.

The Articles of Confederation served as a stepping stone to the United States Constitution, which was later to be written. There were no federal courts, no authority to act directly upon individuals, no power to coerce states, and there had to be unanimous approval of the states for an amendment to be put into action. Unfortunately, the people could not get any help from the government because of the fact that Congress had no power to regulate commerce and that the Articles of Confederation, due to different views, created foreign disputes.

Rawlin Lowndes of South Carolina posed the question in a speech to the House of Representatives (Document H) whether they should keep the Articles or simply revise them. Because the surrounding states didn’t have the time, the power, the money, nor the patience to erect an army to fight over rights to trade routes, the Mississippi River, for the time being, simply had to be closed. Later, when these territories have a population of more than sixty thousand, they could be admitted by Congress as states. The only reason that the Articles of Confederation needed to be patched up in the first place was that there were some major components missing from this law-biding document.

The Articles of Confederation did not provided an effective government, but ensured sovereignty of the states. The Articles of Confederation were simply a loose confederation of the states with no congressional power over commerce and no...
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