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Articles of Confederation

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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.

The Articles of Confederation promoted the spirit and beliefs of liberty and equality. It provided for a loose confederation, which gave limited power to the central government. The Articles of Confederation allowed each state to rule itself independently. According to the theory of republicanism, the sovereignty of the states rested on the rule of the people. In keeping with the idea of "authority of the people" (American Pageant, 168), the legislatures were given sweeping powers, because the legislatures were directly voted in by the people. It was in the legislative branch where it was possible for the voice of people to be heard. Under the Articles of Confederation, there was a unicameral chamber in Congress, in which each state had one vote. Thus, each state had an equal voice, no matter their population size or political, social, or economic importance. Under the Articles of Confederation, Congress succeeded in passing thoughtful pieces of legislation, the land ordinances. In the first of these laws was the Land Ordinance of 1785. This law provided that the land of the Old Northwest should be sold and profits should b...

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...deration proved to be ineffective in the end.

Because it held the states together and kept alive the flickering ideals of liberty and equality, the Articles of Confederation proved to be sufficient government at the time. However, under the Articles of Confederation, the weak federal government could only "advise and advocate and appeal" (American Pageant, 173). Eventually, its inability to regulate commerce, levy taxes, and provide for national defense, led to its demise. By wanting too much freedom, it had to sacrifice some stability and security. Though the Articles of Confederation was laudable as confederation go, the difficult times ahead warranted not a loosely bound confederation, but a tightly united federation. Under the Articles of Confederation, the thirteen states were unified confederation at a time when they should have been united nation.