Articles of Confederation : An Ineffective Government Whoever said that the Articles of Confederation provided the United States with an effective government was completely incorrect. The United States were not united under this government. The United States could not stand up for itself against other countries. Also, the United States were not stable economically under the Articles of Confederation. The Articles of Confederation did not provide a good government for America. Under the Articles of Confederation, the United States were not united at all.
The Articles of Confederation created a central government that was not strong at all. The government established a tax quota for each of the states and asked them please to contribute their share on a voluntary basis. They were lucky if the states paid one-fourth of the requested amount. America had just gotten away from England and all of its taxes, so there was no reason to let their own government do the same. In John Jay’s letter to George Washington in 1786, he says that he is more worried about impending crisis caused by the Articles of Confederation than he was about the Revolutionary War.He was thinking that some people were not in agreement with the government and wanted it to be completely gone. He was worried for a good reason because three years earlier there was an attempt by a group of farmers from Pennsylvania to run the government out of Philadelphia.
Also, the states acted like their own countries and only looked out for themselves. Rhode Island is a good example of this because they rejected a request by Congress to put a tax on imported goods. They ignored the fact that America was in a massive amount of debt to the Spanish, French and Dutch.They chose to better themselves rather than to better the country. They said that the tax would be hard on their state and would go against the constitution of their state. Rhode Island denied a tax that was suggested by the country’s central government because it conflicted with their own government. Also, based on the map of WESTERN LANDS CEDED BY THE STATES, the states were claiming territories as their own and not as a whole nation.
Virginia claimed more than two-thirds of the Northwest Territory from the other states. There were also disputes over boundaries and taxes put on goods from state to state.New York taxed firewood from Connecticut and cabbage from New Jersey at one time. Also, there were a few rebellions. A noticeable one was Shay’s Rebellion, which had debt-ridden farmers tried to free themselves from the demands of the government. All these different conflicts and incidents point to the nation being not united due to the weakness of the Articles of Confederation. While under the Articles of Confederation, the United States could not stand up for itself.
The Articles of Confederation stopped the country from successfully raising an army.To do so, the government had to ask the state to meet their troop quotas, which usually did not happen. The government had no power to enforce this. The weak central government also did not have the power to back its foreign policies with military strength. John Jay had experienced other nations not taking the United States seriously. When Jay negotiated with the Spanish Minister de Gardoqui, he attempted to regain use of the Mississippi, which had been closed to American Commerce in 1784. Jay said that the Spanish should be careful because the American population was growing rapidly and de Gardoqui denied him.
The minister of Spain said that the Americans should relinquish their right to navigate the Mississippi. Despite Jay’s warning, the Spanish Minister refused to take the United States seriously. Since the Articles of Confederation would not allow the government to raise an army effectively, Spain had no reason to take the United States seriously. The country had no way of standing up for itself. England felt that America stabbed them in the back and for that, did not send a minister to the capital for eight years.England poked fun at how little unity the states had by saying that if they sent one minister, they might as well send thirteen. John Jay gave specific instructions to the United States Minister to England.
He wanted the minister to be very respectful and make the United States look better. Since the United States could not actually stand up for itself under the Articles of Confederation, Jay wanted it to look like they did. Also, Spain gave the United States trouble. Spain took Florida which had been given to the United States by England in 1783.No country took the United States seriously and would continue to walk all over them until the United States could stand up for itself. The United States were not economically stable while under the Articles of Confederation. One main reason for economic struggle was that there were so many types of currency being used that trade with other states was near impossible.
There were fourteen total types of currency, one from each state and the rarely used Continental. The Articles of Confederation did not allow the government to control commerce.This left states free to make different, often contradicting, laws of navigation and trading. With all of this conflict, making money was very difficult because one state always had to pay another for some navigation law to do any trading at all. The Articles of Confederation also left the government unable to levy taxes. The government could ask the states nicely, but couldn’t actually enforce the payment. Another economic struggle was caused by European countries such as England and Spain.
England declined to make a commercial treaty and also would not remove its old navigation laws.England was just trying to be a “thorn in the side” of the United States. If the United States were under a better government, they could make up for the monetary losses to England by levying taxes of their own. Based on the chart showing the United States’ value of exports to England and population, it seems like the numbers are all over the place. The export profits are never constantly increasing even though the population is increasing. Usually, if the population goes up, so do the number of goods exported and prices will go down.That is true for this time period, however, England is not buying all that the United States have to export.
The central government of the United States cannot regulate trade at all and it is deeply affecting the profits. Also, Spain closing the Mississippi River does not help the American trade. The entire western part of the United States uses that river for exporting. That cut off a large amount of profit for Americans. None of that would have happened if the United States were under a stronger government than the Articles of Confederation provided.The Articles of Confederation did not help American trade. Some people may have thought that the Articles of Confederation provided an effective government, but they did not.
The United States were not united at all under the Articles of Confederation. The United States could not stand up for itself and be taken seriously under the Articles of Confederation. The Articles of Confederation caused the United States to be economically unstable. The Articles of Confederation never provided the United States with an effective government.
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