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The Articles of Confederation, Essay Example

Pages: 2

Words: 622

Essay

After America won the Independence War in 1781, the next most important work was to determine the best way to unify and govern the thirteen colonies. This saw the Second Continental Congress ratify the Articles of Confederation, it had drafted during the revolutionary war (Kaufman, 2009). The Articles established a unicameral legislative system that gave states more power than the central or national government. However, it failed to achieve the intended objective of uniting the former colonies, compelling the government to replace it with the American Constitution. To a larger extent, the confederation failed because it did not provide a centralized structure to regulate operations of the different states.

Articles of Confederation gave states more authority than the national government on issues of governance, taxation, and defense. As per Article I of the confederation, every state was allowed to operate independently of other states and the central government (Yale Law School, 2008). This article eroded effectiveness of other articles designed to ensure cooperation between states as well as contribution of every state towards running of the country. As a result, states raised their own military, developed and implemented taxation policies independently, and collected taxes, without involvement of the national government. In addition, they defied articles giving mandate to the United States Congress to enter into foreign agreements on their behalf. These consequences hindered operations of the national government, as it lacked means to raise funds and implement national security systems and policies (Kaufman, 2008).

The Articles provided a defective way to oversee administration of justice, one of the major reasons for its failure. According to Yale Law School (2008), it gave the Congress the sole responsibility to resolve disputes between states. However, it failed to give power to Congress to enact legislations addressing relationships between the states. The states had authority to enact legislations independently and establish their own independent courts to enforce the laws. Consequently, disputes between states regarding trade, jurisdiction, and other related issues were difficult to resolve.

The Articles could have been effective in unifying the states if its drafters provided a less decentralized governance structure. According to Kaufman (2009), it should have given the central government the sole authority over national matters, including development and implementation of laws and national security policies. To ensure decentralization, the confederation should have included an article to require states to use the national laws as basis of their state legislations. In this way, it would have ensured harmonization of operations in all states. This would have also ensured that the national government had enough resources to run its operations and control activities of other states to ensure conformance to national policies. Additionally, the Articles of Confederation should have established a centralized judiciary to oversee administration of justice in the country. A national court with powers to deal with interstate disputes would have been instrumental in averting disregard of the provisions of the confederation by states (Kaufman, 2009). These provisions would have led to successful unification of all states.

In summary, Articles of Confederation failed to unify former American colonies because it did not provide a centralized structure to harmonize and regulate operations in the colonies. It gave states more authority than the national government on issues of governance, taxation, and defense. It also provided a defective way to oversee administration of justice, one of the major reasons for its failure. It should have given the central government the sole authority over development and implementation of laws and national security policies. It should have also provided a national court to oversee resolution of interstate disputes and other legal issues.

References

Kaufman, J.P. (2009). A concise history of U.S. foreign policy. (2nd ed.). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Yale Law School. (2008). Articles of Confederation: March 1, 1781. Retrieved from http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/artconf.asp

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