Wednesday, October 05, 2016

The Articles of Confederation

The Articles of Confederation, introduced in 1777 and ratified in 1781 created a weak “League of Friendship” amongst the states. A decentralized confederation based on state sovereignty. 

Each state sent delegates to serve in the Congress of Confederation. Each of the states had an equal vote on any proposed legislation, legislation required unanimous support in order to pass, and once passed the national government had no authority to enforce the legislation with in a state.


The purpose was to prevent certain states from having control of the legislature to pass laws that weren’t fair to other states. The control was kept at the state level and they were joined together to assist one another for mutual and general welfare.

States began using their power to levy tariffs, but they weren’t levied equally, so low tariff states like Rhode Island started receiving more trade. This led other states to levy retaliatory tariffs against the goods that were favored by the low-tariff states. There was also a lot of dispute over who controlled rivers and ports. 

The high taxes in this difficult economy led to a high number of mortgage foreclosures. Debtors turned to mob action against their state legislatures. Shays Rebellion was one such action used to prevent the government from taking away farms. 

Under the Articles of Confederation, the national government had no power to intervene on behalf of the states. Each state was self-governed and there wasn’t a rule of law applied that would govern everyone equally. It was pretty much chaos and every one feared that what they had fought for was on the brink of destruction.

These are the historical events which led people like James Madison to call for a revision of the Articles of Confederation.

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