Articles of confederation.

Essay by studmfn683A+, May 2003

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The Articles of Confederation provided for the basic structure of American government from 1781. The articles bound states together, but this tie was so weak that central government was impossible. A national government should have the ability to enforce its authority, have a clear description of where the governing powers lie, a delineated leadership, and disposition of economic and foreign affairs. The Articles themselves were drafted at the beginning of the war, but all 13 states had to sign before they could be ratified.

In July 1775, Benjamin Franklin presented Congress with the first written plan for a new national government, the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. Other plans also were introduced the following year, but it was not until June 11, 1776 that the Continental Congress appointed one committee to draft the Declaration of Independence and a second committee, composed of one delegate from each colony, to prepare a plan of confederation.

A month later, the latter committee presented Congress with a draft constitution known as the Articles of Confederation. The committees constitution assigned broad powers to the new national government, including the authority to tax, to determine state boundaries, and to dispose of all other unsettled Lands for the general Benefit. The draft document also placed restrictions upon the authority of the states, divided national expenses proportionally among the states according to state population, and most contentiously granted each state delegation a single vote within a unicameral national Congress.

Despite general agreement for the Declaration of Independence and a widespread recognition of the need to provision the military resistance against Great Britain, there was no immediate constitutional consensus concerning the terms of a new national government. Rather, during the next year and a half, state delegates discussed, debated and periodically attempted to amend...