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Articles Of Confederation DBQ

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During the Revolutionary War the colonial leaders needed a government to hold them together, while fighting the English king. In 1781 the Articles of Confederation were ratified, effectively tying knots around the new government. The Articles were written to not create a strong government but they did create, however, a basic constitution, and provided a start for the constitution to come later.
Reflecting the fear by the colonies of a British-like government, there was no judiciary or executive branch and congress was weak. Amendments could only be made by unanimous consent of all thirteen states, and national laws required a two-thirds majority. Other inadequacies include areas such as foreign affairs, taxation, and politics itself. There was some unity, however, in the government.
The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 was a successful piece of legislation where the states and government cooperated. Virginia, New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts all ceded land to the government, where the government was then allowed to decide how the land would be divided up. It also created laws outlawing slavery in these states and providing public education.
One major problem with the Confederacy was its inability to create a national tariff. A tariff required a two-thirds majority to be enacted, and there was very little chance of ever getting a two-thirds vote. A letter from Rhode Island rejecting a tariff in 1782 indicates that states did not want to give up any powers to Congress.
While Congress could not get the states to agree upon a tariff, they did not even have the power to tax the states. Joseph Jones' letter to George Washington points out that Congress did not have power to demand a tax, only suggest one. Jones indicates that if the Confederation cannot collect taxes, it cannot pay its creditors, and it cannot pay its army, reducing the strength of the government and the country.
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