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The Articles of Confederation

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The Articles of Confederation


During the Revolutionary period, the United States and Britain had many conflicts. Between 1763-1776, there were issues among these two countries. Between 1780-1789, there were issues about the federal government and the states under the Articles of Confederation. Two of these issues happened to be the foreign affairs between Britain and the United States, and the economy of the federal government.

Subsequently following the French and Indian War, which happened to be where the British fought for the American colonies, Britain was in great need to pay its debts. Holding the war against the colonies, Britain decided to tax the colonies to pay for their large debt. Not being treated as members of the British Empire, the colonists were angered at the thought of being a source for Britain?s revenue. Acting in protest to what the colonies considered to be unjust laws, the colonists resisted attempts to be taxed, claiming as long as they weren?t allowed fair representation in the English Parliament, they would not pay.

In 1650, a series of laws called the Navigation Acts were issued for the American colonies; although they did not come into full effect until after the French and Indian War. These laws prohibited the trade of certain items, which made it difficult for merchants who relied on French, Spanish, and other foreign countries for business. These restrictions angered the merchants, seeing as they were not allowed to make specific products in the colonies any longer, Heavy tariffs made trade nearly impossible and led the colonists to believe Britain was purposely doing this to hurt the economy of the colonists.

England enacted laws to create trouble with trade between the colonies and other countries. In 1764, the Sugar Act was issued; this law taxed sugar, textiles, and other goods. One year following this the Stamp Act was put into effect, taxing all legal documents, newspapers, and playing cards. Shortly after, the Townshend Acts came into place, taxing lead, glass, iron, and manufactured goods within the colonies. The colonists became infuriated at these new laws stating they were too heavy and were levied without their direct consent.

Britain thought it only necessary to place troops in America for the safety and protection of their colonies. They thought since they were doing such a great favor for the colonies, that it was only fair, and that the colonists would not mind providing the supplies needed to tend and care for the troops sent there. One thing Britain did not expect was the large opposition to the quartering of troops in homes. Not only was this a problem, but taxes were raised to pay for all the troops? provisions. The colonies thought themselves to be capable enough of providing themselves with enough protection, using their own military.

The Articles of Confederation were adopted by the Continental Congress in 1777 and in 1783 they were ratified by the states. They simply provided for a unicameral legislature, the Continental Congress, which was composed of delegates from the states. Under the Articles of Confederation, this Congress did not possess the power to regulate commerce or collect taxes; and tariffs, weights and measure, and currency varied from state to state. This meant Congress did not have enough money to run a government or pay its bills. There was no central government in America to impose the taxes, meaning taxes could only be collected with the direct consent of the people and state, and the American government would be in a constant debt. Congress tried to solve this problem by requesting rather than demanding taxes, but realized the states were just as reluctant to pay taxes now as they were under British rule.

Congress also had an insufficient amount of power over trade regulations among other states and countries. This resulted in states taxing states and arguments over navigational rights on rivers which served as boundaries between them. This also led to the creation of separate state systems of tariffs on foreign imports. Foreign countries refused to work commercial agreements with the federal government, since it was not able to enforce them. At this, Congress attempted to allow the states to regulate trade. Numerous times Congress had tried to regulate trade, but most states were unwilling to forfeit their trade laws if they would not profit from them.

Not only did the Articles of Confederation attempt to solve the problem of trade and foreign affairs, they also attempted to solve the problem of quartering British troops. Their solution: for all states to have their own military and for Congress to be prohibited from raising an army. This meant that absolutely no central training or uniformed army could be operated by one certain government, but on the contrary by several different state governments.

In the long run, the Articles of confederation had quite a significant affect on foreign affairs and on the economy. Although this may not have been such a great impression, they did produce some relief to the problems faced by the United States. The lasting impact would be that the Articles of Confederation and the Congress that was created along with them, had a lasting affect of trying to solve every difficulty, but failed in some way or another at all of them.

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