The Articles of Confederation

Essay by hfvira06 June 2004

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The first constitution of the United States was known as the Articles of Confederation. The Articles were written in 1977, after independence from Great Britain had been declared and while the American Revolution was in progress. As a constitution, the Articles had a short life. The document was not fully ratified by the states until 1781, and it remained in effect only until 1787. Under the Articles, Congress was the sole organ of government. Also under the Articles the thirteen states had most of the power, which led into many problems. Some of the many problems were that the states taxed import and export between states, no equality in number of votes according to the population, each state can volunteer to pay taxes, and also each state can produce their own money. All these problems led many people to bankruptcy and debt, which they could not pay off. In 1786, there was an uprising in Massachusetts in opposition to high taxes and stringent economic conditions.

Armed bands forced the closing of several courts to prevent execution of foreclosures and debt processes. In 1786 Daniel Shays and other local leaders led several hundred men in forcing the Supreme Court to adjourn; also a small band of farmers in Massachusetts rebelled at losing their land to creditors. As a result of the rebellion, Daniel Gray addressed the people of several towns in the county of Hampshire; also George Washington sent two letters to James Madison and Henry Knox about concerns pertaining to the Articles of Confederation.

Daniel Gray was a leading participant in Shay's Rebellion; he gives numerous reasons to justify Shays' Rebellion. He says that the United States is in a time where money flow is scarce, and by putting debtors in jail will do no good to society. In...