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Articles of Confederation – Ap U.S History Essay Sample

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Articles of Confederation – Ap U.S History Essay Sample

1. “From 1781 to 1787 the Articles of Confederation provided the United States with an effective government.” Using the documents and your knowledge of the period, evaluate this statement. The Articles of Confederation did not provide a sound basis for a new developing country of the United States. The vague responsibilities of the Federal government did not allow it to regulate and govern its states as a result led to social, economic and political problems. Issues also involved confusion in trading and regulating taxation of the states as well as convincing state officials to participate in the government and settling conflicts between states and even other countries. The Articles of Confederation would continue to be the foundation of a then dysfunctional United States until the Constitution was adopted in 1789.

One of the problems of the United States under the Articles of Confederation was the government’s grasp on the economic situation. After the Revolutionary War with Great Britain, the aftermath left the nation poor due to unpaid loans from creditors as well as the French. In Document C, Delegate Joseph Jones of Virginia writes to George Washington about the discontent of the solider who participated in the Revolutionary War and was not compensated for their contribution. This was because the Confederation left the government without the power to tax, and the states were supposed to donate money to the government and as a result the government had little to no revenue. In Document B showing the “Estimated Market Value of United States Exports to Great Britain” one can conclude that after the Revolution, there was a decrease in traded with Great Britain, which also hindered the economic situation of the United States under the Articles.

During the 1780’s, the United States had a problem with individual states trying to expand their borders. In Document E, it shows several States clamming other land on their own and not regarding to the boundaries of other states. Ohio Valley shows being claimed by bigger states like Virginia, Massachusetts and New York. Small states such as Maryland though it was unfair that big states like Virginia made such big claims of the West, which resulted in Maryland not voting for the Articles of Confederation and the lack of the governments control over the states.

Another weakness of the Articles of Confederation was its inability to collect taxes from states, as a result debt grew and did not provide for a national military. Document A shows a letter written to Congress from Rhode Island rejecting a federal taxation from Congress saying “unequal in its operation, bearing hardest on the most commercial states.” Rhode Island disagreed thinking that the proposal would negatively affect the economy of the state. Since the power to tax was given to the states themselves, the articles provides a weak centralized government and no way of enforcing revenue.

Regulating foreign affairs was also made difficult due to the policies put in place by the Articles of Confederations. In document F it shows John Jay’s speech to Congress on the problems with Spain’s presence and the expansion to the west. It is shown that neither can come up with an agreement on the rapid settlement of the west and the lack of power the government has under the Articles to intervene. The problem under the Articles of Confederation is that if the government wanted to open any type of trade with a different country, it had to pass the approval of a vast majority of the Thirteen States. This caused many heated debates and controversy between the states resolving nothing.

Under the Articles of Confederation the Federal government was unable to fully govern it’s people. As a result it led to social, economic and political problems internally and externally. They lacked focus and strength and already damaged foreign relations were not made any better. Without one specific governing body, power seemed unbalanced, unchecked and more importantly disorganized. Added in part to other variety of problems, the Articles of Confederation was nothing short of a failure.

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