A few hundred years ago, the United States first Constitution, the Articles of Confederation, was created. This Constitution created a weak central government in order to give the people the rights that they deserve. This plan of government, however, proved to be too weak and it could not control the people or pay the debts that the country had acquired from the Revolutionary War.
The Articles of Confederation were approved by Congress on November 15, 1777 and ratified by the states on March 1, 1781. It was a modest attempt by a new country to unite itself and form a national government. The Articles set up a Confederation that gave most of the power to the states. Many problems arose and so a new Constitution was written in 1787 in Independence Hall. The new Constitution called for a much more unified government with a lot more power. Let us now examine the changes that were undertaken.
As pretty and proper as the U.S. Constitution sounds, there has always been and always will be some conflicts and concerns about different laws and amendments and even values that make a part of the sacred text of America. One of the major conflicts when writing the Constitution was power. They weren’t sure what to do with it, or how to handle it. America was so big with all different states a having all different values. America was not one, it was thirteen individual states who each wanted a piece of the power.
The 1787 Constitutional Convention was paramount in unifying the states after the Revolutionary War. However, in order to do so, the convention had to compromise on many issues instead of addressing them with all due haste. This caused the convention to leave many issues unresolved. Most notably were the issues of slavery, race, secession, and states’ rights. Through the Civil War and the Reconstruction, these issues were resolved, and in the process the powers of the federal government were greatly expanded.
The Federalist Papers, perhaps was the most famous exploration of American political philosophy, originally was a series of 85 anonymous letters in several New York state newspapers (Berkin & Berlin, 2008). The Federalist Papers was first published on October 27, 1787. It consisted of eighty-five articles that were published on several New York newspapers for roughly seven months between October 27, 1787 and May 28, 1788. Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison wrote the articles under the pseudonym “Publius”. Later, it was also published as a book titled The Federalist on 1788. The book, although firstly was only intended to be read by the people of New York, were spread and circulated wildly among all United States' community in general (Peacock, n.d.). The urge to write these articles came due to the disagreement to the Articles of Confederation. By Hamilton, Jay, and Madison, The Articles of Confederation was judged as a weak government system. Moreover, the articles were also perceived as tyrannical because it limited the individual liberty and gave the government too much power (Foner & Garraty, 1991). The Publius’s main goals were to persuade New York voters to ratify the proposed constitution, which were thought suited the America’s principles of liberty and equity best (Whitten, n.d.)
The Articles of Confederation When confronted with the task of constructing a new nation, the founders of the United States had recently emerged from centuries of religious and political oppression by an overly strong central government. After winning their independence, one of the most pressing issues on their minds was the assurance that their new government would have limitations, disallowing it to molest their posterity. The patriarchs wanted a government that balanced between abuse and inefficiency. The first attempt to satiate this dream was the Articles of Confederation.
The Articles of Confederation In the 1770’s, as America’s great thinkers and writers were declaring their desire for independence; they also established a committee to lay the foundation for the American form of government. These brilliant writers and philosophers hesitantly began designing the national level of government for use in America and named their final draft the Articles of Confederation . Out of their utter distrust of a centralized government, due to their association with the English monarchial system, the drafters deliberately established these articles as a loose confederation of states, rather than a firmly united nation. Life under the Articles of Confederation was filled with hardships and uncertainty, and the political scene was paralyzed with inability due to the lack of sovereignty in a central executive branch and the unanimous state consent required for the ratification of an amendment together with the lack of a taxation privilege .
The Preamble of the Constitution of the United States of America classifies an effective government as one that "establish[s] justice, insure[s] domestic tranquility, provide[s] for the common defense, promote[s] the general welfare, and secure[s] the blessings of liberty." Based on these standards, the Articles of Confederation were effective to a certain degree at the time, but in the end, were too liberal to be effective. Because its main purpose was to ensure the blessings of liberty, the Articles of Confederation had to sacrifice stability and security, which ultimately led to its downfall.
After the Revolutionary War, the United States government was in a state of frenzied disillusion. In an attempt to solve the problem of a lack of a functioning government, the Articles of Confederation were formed. Often times called the “Articles of Confusion';, the Articles of Confederation paved the way to our modern system of government. Out of the unreliable and unstable Articles, the Constitution was formed. Though the Articles instilled a seemingly well functioning governmental establishment, the Articles were far from a flawless governing mechanism.
The American people had fought a costly war to loosen the grip of a tyrannical leader. The colonists, in their open letter to the king of England declared, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness (Jefferson 1776).” These three unalienable rights are broad and would need some defining if the American people were to stay free. That chance came in 1787 during the Philadelphia convention, which would become known as the Constitutional Convention. The Articles of Confederation weren’t serving the American people in an effective way, and something needed to be done to fix some of the major problems facing the nation.