Articles Of Confederation Essay

1056 words - 4 pages

The Preamble of the Constitution of the United States of America classifies an effective government as one that "establish[s] justice, insure[s] domestic tranquility, provide[s] for the common defense, promote[s] the general welfare, and secure[s] the blessings of liberty." Based on these standards, the Articles of Confederation were effective to a certain degree at the time, but in the end, were too liberal to be effective. Because its main purpose was to ensure the blessings of liberty, the Articles of Confederation had to sacrifice stability and security, which ultimately led to its downfall.

The Articles of Confederation promoted the spirit and beliefs of liberty and equality. It provided for a loose confederation, which gave limited power to the central government. The Articles of Confederation allowed each state to rule itself independently. According to the theory of republicanism, the sovereignty of the states rested on the rule of the people. In keeping with the idea of "authority of the people" (American Pageant, 168), the legislatures were given sweeping powers, because the legislatures were directly voted in by the people. It was in the legislative branch where it was possible for the voice of people to be heard. Under the Articles of Confederation, there was a unicameral chamber in Congress, in which each state had one vote. Thus, each state had an equal voice, no matter their population size or political, social, or economic importance. Under the Articles of Confederation, Congress succeeded in passing thoughtful pieces of legislation, the land ordinances. In the first of these laws was the Land Ordinance of 1785. This law provided that the land of the Old Northwest should be sold and profits should be used to pay off the national debt. More importantly, this land ordinance promoted education. The Land Ordinance of 1785 divided the acreage into townships six mile square, each of which in turn was to be split into thirty-six sections of one square mile each. The sixteenth section of each township was to be sold for the benefit of the public schools. This law, which secured the future education of the citizens of the forthcoming states of the Old Northwest, is a good example of how the government under the Articles of Confederation promoted the general welfare. The Northwest Ordinance of 1787, which related to the governing of the Old Northwest, came to grips with the problem of how a nation should deal with its colonial peoples. The solution afforded by the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 was a compromise: momentary subordination then permanent equality. The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 preserved the spirit of equality. This law granted that when sixty thousand people inhabited a territory, it would be admitted by Congress as a state, "with all the privileges of the thirteen charter members" (American Pageant, 174). Instead of keeping these new territories in permanent subordination, it promised equality in the...

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