The Colonies

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What major problems did the young republic face after its victory over Great Britain? How did these problems motivate members of the elite to call for a federal constitution? In 1776 when the Colonies declared their independence from Great Britain with the Declaration of Independence they had one clear goal in mind: become a sovereign nation and avoid the tyranny of Great Britain. What they did not know, however, is that they had to face many more issues beyond simply cutting the ties with Great Britain; they also had to create and maintain a working system of rules which could guide them into becoming the United States of America. Once Independence was gained in 1783, the Articles of Confederation were created, but with many deep flaws in the system. The Federal government had no power, and the states were loosely held together and hardly acted as if they were a single united nation. After recognizing that these problems were too large to overcome easily, several of the greatest men in the nation gathered together to rectify these problems. The Colonies were excited about having won their independence in 1783 with the signing of the Treaty of Paris, but they still had to be able to create their own system of government which they thought would create a strong government which would not have an overpowering central government as they thought Great Britain had had. With this was the creation of the Articles of Confederation. These articles were meant to create strong local and state governments while not granting any power to the central government with the idea that it could not have any power over the states. The states were allowed to conduct their own diplomacy, or war, from nation to nation or even from state to state. States were allowed to create their own currency and put heavy import taxes on goods from other states. The federal government had no independent executive, nor could it levy taxes on any part of the states. It could not create or maintain a militia; this duty was left to the states. All decisions had to be ratified by all thirteen colonies. In thought, this was a great idea because only the most popular decisions would be ratified and stronger states could not hurt the smaller states through majority rule. In practice it did not work very well because it could be thwarted by a single stubborn state.

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