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The Articles of Confederation

The Articles of Confederation is a grueling and difficult battle. For almost sixteen months politicians of various states debate about its ratification. For several months, the condition in Virginia is bleak because of the bickering over land claims, and then my beloved state decided to cede for the reason that the surrendered Western lands will be equally distributed. The ratification of Articles of Confederation has its own advantages and disadvantages. The major advantage of the ratification is that it landscaped a new America because for the first time in history someone has made a constitution that will bind a nation.

The ratification paved the way for American Revolution because the government was transformed to new heights. At the onset, American is ruled by the king, and because of the Articles of Confederation the sovereignty was centralized to American states. But the article failed in actualizing its aim, which served as an impetus for redefinition of America wherein the people became sovereign. And because of that leap from of sovereignty King to American people, the ratification in a way became meaningful. But the disadvantages of such ratification are so prominent that it can never be forgotten.

Under the Articles of Confederation, Congress did not possess an income independent of the states. Instead, the power to tax remained with the state governments and the federal government had to raise money through requisitions on the states. When the conflict with Britain created a demand for money, however, Congress did not at first ask the states to tax their citizens. As with the paper money, the certificate loan gave Congress purchasing power although it did not control any source of specie income. The major part of the debt cannot be regarded as a voluntary contribution to Congress.

Merchants preferred bonds to currency and soldiers preferred them to nothing at all. But both groups would much rather have been paid in gold or silver. Their skepticism soon proved well founded. Even when the debt was revalued in order to correspond to specie value, certificates depreciated fast as there was universal doubt that Congress would ever be able to redeem them. Loan certificates traded at twenty to twenty-five cents on the dollar from the end of the war to the ratification of the Constitution, whereas final settlement certificates went for ten to fifteen cents on the dollar.

They avoided the fate of the currency solely because it was hoped that the Articles of Confederation would be amended so as to provide Congress with a hard money income, thereby allowing for interest payments in specie, or else that the state governments would accept responsibility for the debt. As with the currency, the loan certificate debt was a measure that could not be repeated. Given the choice, no one would subscribe to a loan floated by the federal government if it had no guarantee of payment other than Congress’s word. This claim does not rest on mere conjecture.

In October 1786, Congress tried to borrow $500,000 to increase the federal army in the wake of Shays’ Rebellion and asked the states to pledge money for repayment by voting tax funds. The result was dismal. Only Virginia bothered to take any action at all, but did so insufficiently, whereas the other states did nothing. Not surprisingly, the loan failed to attract a single subscriber. The insufficiency of funds, since it was allocated on war, brought dismal living for approximately 650, 000 Virginians. Trade did not flourish so well because people do not have enough money to buy food, and to open up a business.

The lack of funds and the higher tax rate imposed to Virginians worsen our living because everything is expensive, from the staple foods to imported goods. Being a soldier was the most in-demand occupation during the time, as pointed out earlier the government focused so many funds to war, a reason why many young adult Virginians participate in American-English war. Though it can be argued, that being a part of the agricultural enterprise is another means to have a job; it does not necessarily follow given the situation that one will be successful because most Virginians were part of such business.

After the revolution, Virginians again took up the topic of Church and State. In the absence of public tax support, the formerly established Anglican Church in the state was languishing, but a return to the former system of taxing everyone for its benefit was now out of the question. Instead, in 1784, Patrick Henry introduced a Bill to Enact a General Assessment for the support of all Christian churches that would require all citizens to be taxed for the support of the church and minister of their choice.

Those who wished to support no church or minister could opt to have their contributions go toward the support of education. Proponents of this bill defended it as promoting the general welfare of society by strengthening morality and civic harmony. They reasoned that such a general assessment would be compatible with religious liberty in that it allowed for no preference or preeminence among churches, that is, no establishment of religion.

If not for the realization of American Revolution, then the entirety of Articles of Confederation will be futile and meaningless, and for this reason, as a citizen of America and of Virginia I will still let the ratification happen. It is because there is high price to pay in every revolution. And because of the fact, there is no revolution without hardships.

References:

Currie, David P. The Constitution in Congress: The Federalist Period 1789-1801 Chicago, Ill. University of Chicago Press, 1999. Hough, Franklin Benjamin. The Articles of Confederation Champaign, Ill. Project Gutenberg.

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