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How Strong is Too Strong? What are the pros and cons to establishing a strong federal government?

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Presentation on theme: "How Strong is Too Strong? What are the pros and cons to establishing a strong federal government?"— Presentation transcript:

1 How Strong is Too Strong? What are the pros and cons to establishing a strong federal government?

2 Examining the Articles of Confederation

3 The Weaknesses of the Articles The Articles of Confederation served as the framework for the U.S. gov’t from 1781 until 1789: –Early in the “Confederation Period,” the weakness of the national gov’t was seen as good because it eliminated tyranny –Later, these same weaknesses kept the gov’t from solving serious national problems

4 Economic Problems During the American Revolution, colonial boycotts hurt trade Everyone expected the economy to improve after independence, but the Confederation Congress had a difficult time: –Paying off debt & collecting taxes –Halting inflation –Generating a favorable balance of trade (foreign & domestic)

5 Debt, Taxes, & Inflation The U.S. was burdened with $40 million in war debt in 1783: –The Confederate Congress could not ease the national debt because it had no power to tax –Congress printed $200 million in new currency to pay off debt but this led to massive inflation –Creditors demanded repayment of debts at market value

6 Trade Problems under the Articles Congress was unable to create a favorable balance of trade: –To raise revenue, states created tariffs on goods from other states Connecticut levied heavier duties on Massachusetts goods than on British goods –The lack of hard currency made trade difficult –Desire for cheap British goods hurt nascent American industries Especially the North –England prohibited its Caribbean colonies from trading with USA Hurt Southern planters

7 U.S. Trade with Britain, Debt

8 Economic Problems The economic stagnation of the Confederation era led to uprisings: Newburgh Conspiracy –The lack of tax revenue & failure of the gov’t to pay soldiers sparked a military coup in 1783 called the Newburgh Conspiracy The Newburgh Conspiracy was a plan by Continental Army officers to challenge the authority of the Confederation Congress, arising from their frustration with Congress's long- standing inability to meet its financial obligations to the military. By early 1783, widespread unrest had created an atmosphere ripe for mutiny. In the end, however, Washington defused the situation with an eloquent, personal plea to his officers to remain loyal to Congress, in the process perhaps saving the fate of the American Revolution. "Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for I have not only grown gray but almost blind in the service of my country." Shays’ Rebellion –Property foreclosures led to desperation & uprising farmers in 1787 called Shays’ Rebellion theShays’ Rebellion proved to be the convincing event that led to the Constitutional Convention of 1787

9 Economic Problems “Nationalists” called for a stronger central gov’t & a constitutional amendment to allow create a 5% import tax & a national bank –Led by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, & Robert Morris 12 states agreed, but a group of Rhode Island “Localists” refused & killed the amendment The failure to reform the Articles led Nationalists to consider the Articles hopelessly defective

10 Foreign Policy Problems The Articles proved inadequate to handle interstate & foreign affairs: –When Americans did not repay legitimate war debts, Britain kept troops in the Ohio Valley US too weak to prevent –Spain refused to recognize the southern U.S. border & closed access to the Mississippi River –Algerian (Barbary) pirates attacked & enslaved American merchants –States argued over river rights

11 The USA in the Confederate Era

12 “Have We Fought for This?” “Have we fought for this? Was it with these expectations that we launched into a sea of trouble?” —George Washington, 1785


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