The Articles of Confederation
The need for a constitution in the United States became apparent after Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence in 1776, as a new government would be needed to govern the 13 colonies. The Second Continental Congress drafted and adopted the Articles of Confederation in 1777, which were fully ratified in 1781. The Articles of Confederation, although new, did in fact have some beneficial aspects to it, allowing for some success for the central government in governing the United States; however, the drawbacks outweighed the benefits creating struggles for the new country. This new form of government did have some success in dealing with the western lands, but the internal struggles and the inability to collect taxes certainly did not allow it to become a successful permanent constitution.
The Land Ordinance of 1785 was adopted by the Continental Congress in order to try and pay off its war debt and to raise money for the new government. This legislation established a method of surveying and selling the land that was west of the Appalachian Mountains. The area would be split up by townships, which was a square area measuring six miles on each side. Each township had to have a section set apart for a school. The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 was what laid the basis for governing the Northwest Territory and for the admission of new states from the area. A section of the territory could be admitted for statehood if it achieved a population of 60,000. Another large part of the Northwest Ordinance was that slavery was forever outlawed from the lands under the Northwest Territory. One of the most important things this ordinance showed was the ability to grant statehood and give the new state equal rights to the original 13. Both of these Ordinances were a major accomplishment in controlling the world west of the Appalachians, and in keeping the Articles of Confederation from being a complete failure.
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