Establishment of the Nation Term Paper

Pages: 4 (1224 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 3  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: American History

Establishment of a Nation

Discuss the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation and the reasons it failed.

The Articles of Confederation established solidarity among the thirteen colonies at the end of the Revolutionary War. Reeling from perceived oppression by the British crown, the newly formed United States of America mistrusted strong central governments so much that the Articles of Confederation did not allow for an executive branch of government. Without a strong central government, the confederation could not adequately raise taxes, establish national boundaries, defend against enemies, or regulate trade. Creating and ratifying new legislation also proved difficult because of the strong sense of independence cultivated by each of the former colonies. The Articles of Confederation deliberately established a weak coalition of states. However, the loose confederacy envisioned by the staunch anti-federalists did not last long and the Articles were soon replaced by the Constitution.

Drafted at the Second Continental Congress in 1777 and ratified in 1781, the Articles of Confederation were disputed by several of the thirteen original states. A key reason for resisting ratification was land claims. States bordering on unclaimed territories to the West, including Maryland, wanted to maintain exclusive control over any new lands, whereas other members of the confederation hoped that new lands would be under the dominion of the federal government.Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Term Paper on Establishment of the Nation Assignment

Mistrust of the federal government was the root cause of the failure of the Articles of Confederation. Without a strong central government, the states could hardly overcome the debts incurred from the Revolutionary War. Also, a weak federal government had no authority with which to collect taxes from citizens. States were supposed to collect taxes from their citizens but larger states resented the idea of paying more than states with smaller populations. Representation in the unicameral legislature allowed one vote for each state, which also irked the larger states which wanted more political power. Passing laws in the unicameral legislature proved difficult because of the general lack of faith and credibility placed in the federal government.

A weak central government also meant that some states sought to forge financial ties with foreign nations without the input of the government and without revenue-sharing from tariffs. Ultimately, the Articles of Confederation failed to solidify the new nation. Federalist thinkers revised the Articles to create a "more perfect union" through the Constitution of the United States, which allowed for a bicameral legislature, executive and judicial branches of government, and the right to collect taxes.

2. Describe the makeup of the Constitutional Convention and the priorities of the delegates.

Lloyd (2006) claims that the delegates to the Constitutional Convention were "young, well educated, and politically experienced." Although relatively homogenous in their background, Convention delegates differed significantly in their points-of-view. Moreover, the delegates were appointed from all states but Rhode Island, which refused to send any delegates at all. The Constitutional Convention was therefore highly controversial in spite of the optimism expressed by key members such as George Washington and James Madison. Many notable founding fathers did not attend, including Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and Patrick Henry, who declared that he "smelt a rat," (cited by Lloyd 2006). Fears of the Constitution leading to an overly powerful federal government undoubtedly fueled much of the opposition to the Convention, as did protectionist interests on the part of the states who felt they might stand to lose from stronger unification.

Delegates' priorities focused on the creation of a stronger United States of America through a constitution based on the prevailing Enlightenment and humanistic philosophies of continental thinkers like Locke. The delegates met in total secrecy in the Philadelphia State House for four months, during which they deliberated over… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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