From 1781 to 1789 the Articles of Confederation provided the United States with an effective government. Using the documents and your knowledge of the period, evaluate this statement.
Although the Articles of Confederation did provide the United States with some sort of effective government such as states rights, expansions of lands, and a legislative branch, it did not have enough power to govern efficiently, regulate trade, and levy taxes . The Articles had weaknesses that overshadowed the strengths. They had numerous meetings to revise the provisions of the articles, which the government referred to for eight years, but as time went on the delegation realized the nation needed a detailed Constitution. The Articles of Confederation, written in 1777 by the Second Continental Congress, were initially proposed to enforce a strong central government but the thirteen colonies feared a central government because of the clash with Great Britain. The articles were written very cautiously especially towards issues pertaining to states' independence. The Continental Congress wanted to give as much freedom possible to the states. After much internal debate in the states, the articles were ratified on March 1,1781.
A loose confederation of independent states was created by the articles that gave limited powers to a central government. The articles also established a house of Congress in which one vote would be given by each state. Congress would engage in the development of western territories, boosting the armed forces, setting up a postal department and estimating the costs of the government. Borrowing money and declaring war (and alliances with nations) also was in the hands of Congress.
The Congress seemed to cede much land from 1781-1802. Some states gained land such as Georgia (as observed on the map of Western Lands ceded by the States source: John Blum, et.al, The National Experience, third edition). As for boosting the armed forces, they succeeded but there were some complaints such the one made by Delegate Joseph Jones of Virginia to George Washington.
One Ground of discontent in the army, and on which they found the opinion that justice is not intended to be done to them, is the delay in complying with their requests for bonus and back pay." Many complaints were made of the articles and that is due to the weakness of the articles themselves. One can interpret the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation through the letters of concern written during that time period such as the letter from John Jay to George Washington ( June 27, 1786) stating that "...Our affairs seem to lead to some crisis, some revolution-something that I cannot foresee or conjecture."
The weaknesses of the Articles are not evident but through history we can observe them (weaknesses) and correct them. Some of the weaknesses are that there was no independent executive and no judicial branch. Congress was left with judicial authority and states primarily ignored Congress. The nation was in dire need of a president. Another weakness is that the federal government was unable to regulate trade and levy taxes . The revolution had left the United States government in major debt and states refused to give the money needed ( to the government). The Congress could not pass bills because they needed the nine-state majority vote agreed on during the time of the articles. Furthermore, the Congress also could not force states to comply to the terms that ended the revolution. In addition, the new nation was alarmed when John Jay informed them that the British and Spanish wanted to take over American territory as stated in John Jay's Speech to Congress ( on Negotiations with Spain's minister Diego De Gardoqui ( August 6,1786) : " Mr. Gardoqui strongly insists on our relinquishing our right to navigate the Mississippi."As a result of this, the Congress called for a Constitution Convention on February 21,1787 to revise the article. From this Convention, the Constitution was written.
The statements claiming that the Article of Confederation provided an effective government are, in a way, partly true because some features in the articles can be found in the Constitution. The Articles of Confederation pressed on issues such as state's freedom, unity between the states (people), persons charged of treason, delegates' manners, land issues, war issues, congress, bills and currency etc.. The articles made up the first Constitution of our nation and they lasted for eight years. The Articles of Confederation were the foundation for our nation's Constitution which is one or is the most important documents of the United States of America.