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CREATING A CONSTITUTION CHAPTER 5. THE ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION Even before independence had been declared, the Patriot leaders of the Congress realized.

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Presentation on theme: "CREATING A CONSTITUTION CHAPTER 5. THE ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION Even before independence had been declared, the Patriot leaders of the Congress realized."— Presentation transcript:


2 THE ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION Even before independence had been declared, the Patriot leaders of the Congress realized the colonies needed to be united under some type of central government. They adopted the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. –A plan for a loose union of the states under the authority of the Congress. –It established a very weak central government. –The states had spent years fighting for independence and they did not want to give up their independence to a government that might become more tyrannical. –What is tyranny? Absolute ruler, oppressive government, very cruel using power unjustly, harshness,

3 Under the Articles, once a year, each state would elect delegates to send to the capital city. –This group was called the Confederation Congress, and it was the entire government. –There were no separate branches of government. –The Confederation Congress had the right to declare war, raise armies, and sign treaties. –The Congress was not given the power to impose taxes, and it was denied the power to regulate trade.

4 THE CONGRESS SEES SUCCESS Without the power to tax or regulate trade, the Congress had to raise money to pay its debts and finance its operations by selling land it controlled west of the Appalachian Mountains. Northwest Ordinance –Provided the basis for governing the western territory. –It created a new territory north of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi that would eventually be divided into three to five states –Congress would choose a governor, secretary, and three judges. –When 5,000 adult male citizens had settled in the territory, they could elect a legislature. –When the population reached 60,000, the state could apply to become a state. –People living in the states were also given certain rights.

5 –These rights included the freedom of religion, property rights, and the right to a trial by jury. –The ordinance also stated that “there would be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said territory.” –The exclusion of slavery from the Northwest Territory meant that as the United States expanded in future years, it would be divided between Southern slaveholding states and Northern free states. Success in Trade –The Confederation Congress tried to promote trade with other nations.

6 After the Revolutionary War, the British imposed sharp restrictions on American access to British markets. –The British insisted that American goods sold to British colonies in the Caribbean had to be carried on British ships. –American ships could still carry goods to Britain, but only on ships from their respective states. –To overcome the problems, representatives negotiated trade treaties with other countries. These included Holland, Prussia, Sweden, and France. –By 1790, the trade of the US was greater that the trade of the American colonies before the Revolution.

7 THE CONGRESS FALTERS Two major achievements: –Commercial treaties –Settling the West Problems with trade –Before the war, due to the boycotts, American artists and manufacturers prospered by making goods that people had previously bought from Britain. –When the war ended, British merchants flooded the US with inexpensive British goods which drove many American artisans out of business. –Many American states fought back by restricting British imports. –Unfortunately, the states did not impose the same taxes on the imported goods. –This allowed the British to land their goods in states that had the lowest taxes or fewest restrictions. –Goods move overland in the US into states that had tried to keep them out.

8 Due to the fact that the Confederation Congress could not regulate trade, the states began setting up customs posts on their borders to prevent the British from exploiting the different trade laws. They also levied taxes on each other’s goods to raise the revenue. (ex. Bottom of p. 159-160) Each state as a result started to act like an independent country, and it threatened the unity of the new United States.

9 PROBLEMS WITH DIPLOMACY What is diplomacy? –The conducting of relations with other nations, like negotiating treaties and building trade. The Confederation Congress immediately had problems after the Treaty of Paris was signed. –Before the war, many American merchants and planters had borrowed money from British banks. –In the treaty, the US agreed to allow the lenders to recover their prewar debts by suing in American courts. –The Congress had no power to make states do this and some states restricted Britain’s ability to collect their debts. –In the treaty, the US agreed that all land taken from the loyalists during the war would be returned. –The Congress could not make the states do this, which further angered the British. –In retaliation, the British refused to evacuate American soil as was specified in the treaty.

10 Britain continued to occupy a string of frontier posts south of the Great Lakes inside American territory. –Since there was no power to tax, they could not raise the money to settle the debts and Loyalists property. –Since there was no power to regulate trade, it had no way to pressure the British into settlement. American dealings with Spain also showed the Congress’s weaknesses. –The major dispute involved the Spanish territory and the state of Georgia.

11 –The Spanish stopped the Americans from depositing their goods on Spanish territory at the mouth of the Mississippi River. –This effectively closed the river to American farmers who used it to ship their goods to market. –Again the Confederation Congress had no way to pressure the Spanish and the disputes remained unsolved. The Economic Crisis –Many Americans were struggling economically. –The new United States plunged into a recession, or economic slowdown.

12 Farmers were most affected by the recession. –They were not earning as much as they were used to. They had to borrow money to be able to plant crops. –They all had mortgages to pay. –The Revolutionary War left the Confederation Congress and most states in debt. –Many states had to issue bonds as a way to borrow money from wealthy merchants and planters. –With the war over, people wanted to redeem them for gold and silver. –To pay off the debts, the states’ only choice was to raise taxes, however, those already suffering urged them to issue paper money instead. –They wanted them to make the paper money available to farmers through government loans on farm mortgages. –The paper money was not backed up by gold and silver, and people would not trust it. –Inflation—a decline in the value of money, would begin.

13 This would allow debtors to pay off their debts more easily, but it upset many merchants, because they would not truly be paid what they were owed. Seven states began printing money. –Rhode Island’s money was so worthless, merchants refused to accept it to pay off debts. –After a riot broke out, the government forced people to accept the paper money at its stated value. Those who refused would be arrested and fined. –For people with property, this signaled danger.

14 SHAY’S REBELLION The government of Massachusetts decided to raise taxes instead of printing paper money. –The burden fell on farmers. –As the recession grew worse, many of them could not pay their taxes, mortgages, and other debts. –Many of those who could not pay lost their farms. –Farmers in western Massachusetts became very upset with the legislature’s indifference to their situation. As a result, they rebelled. –They closed down several county courthouses to prevent farm foreclosures, and then marched on the state supreme court. –Daniel Shays, a former captain in the Continental Army, and a bankrupt farmer emerged as the rebellion’s leader. –Shays and about 1,200 farmers headed to a state arsenal to seize weapons before marching on Boston. –The governor sent more than 4,000 volunteers to defend the arsenal.

15 –Shays attacked, and the militia opened fire. –Four farmers died in the fighting and the rest scattered. –The next day the militia ended the fighting. –The rebellion increased fears. A CALL FOR CHANGE –People with greater income started to see the rebellion and inflation as signs that the republic was weak. –They were afraid that as the states became more democratic and responsive to the poor, they would weaken property rights and vote to take property from the wealthy.

16 General Henry Knox, aide to George Washington said, “What is to afford our security against the violence of lawless men? Our government must be braced, changed, or altered to secure our lives and property.” –These concerns were an important reason why merchants, artisans, and creditors started to argue for stronger central government. –The Confederation’s failure to deal with conditions that might lead to rebellion, as well as the problems of trade and diplomacy, only made their argument stronger.

17 WEAKNESSES OF THE ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION PROVISIONPROBLEM CREATED Congress has no power to taxWeak currency and growing debt Inability to pay army leads to threats of mutiny Congress has no power to enforce treaties Foreign countries angry when treaties are not honored; for example, Britain keeps troops on American soil. Every state, despite size, has one vote Populous states not equally represented. Congress has no power to regulate commerce Trade hindered by states imposing high tariffs on each other. Amendment requires unanimous vote of states Difficult to adapt articles to changing needs

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