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The struggles of the us government with the articles of confederation after the american revolution

It replaced the Articles of Confederation, which created a Congress but not much else. Transcript of radio broadcast: I'm Doug Johnson with Richard Rael.

  1. That will be our story next week. The War of 1812 James Madison succeeded Jefferson as president in 1809.
  2. Internet users can download transcripts and MP3s of our programs at voaspecialenglish.
  3. That will be our story next week.
  4. Their opponents charged that they had discussed the secession withdrawal of the New England States from the Union.
  5. It reelected him unanimously in 1792.

This week in our series, we begin the story of a document that defined a nation: The thirteen American colonies declared their independence from Britain in seventeen seventy-six. But they had to win their independence in a long war that followed. During that war, the colonies were united by an agreement called the Articles of Confederation. The Union was a loose one. The Articles of Confederation did not organize a central government. They did not create courts or decide laws.

They did not provide an executive to carry out the laws. All the Articles of Confederation did was to create a Congress. But it was a Congress with little power. It could only advise the separate thirteen states and ask them to do some things. It could not pass laws for the Union of states. The weakness of this system became clear soon after the war for independence ended. A messenger brought the Congress news of the victory. The Congress had no money.

It could not even pay the messenger. So money had to be collected from each member of the Congress. Even before the war ended, three men called for a change in the loose confederation of states. They urged formation of a strong central government. George Washington commanded America's troops during the revolution. He opposed the Articles of Confederation because they provided little support for his army. His soldiers often had no clothes or shoes or food.

They had no medicines or blankets or bullets. During the war, Washington wrote many angry letters about the military situation. In one letter, he said: Our healthy soldiers are naked. Our soldiers who have been captured by the British are naked! General Washington's letters produced little action. The thirteen separate states refused to listen when he told them the war was a war the struggles of the us government with the articles of confederation after the american revolution all the states.

He learned they were more interested in themselves than in what his soldiers needed. After the war, there was much social, political, and economic disorder. General Washington saw once again that there was no hope for the United States under the Articles of Confederation. He wrote to a friend: He was a young lawyer and an assistant to General Washington during the revolution. Even before the war ended, Hamilton called for a convention of the thirteen states to create a central government. He expressed his opinion in letters, speeches, and newspaper stories.

Finally, there was James Madison. He saw the picture clearly. It was an unhappy picture. There were thirteen governments. And each tried to help itself at the cost of the others.

Nine states had their own navy. Each had its own army. The states used these forces to protect themselves from each other. For example, the state of Virginia passed a law which said it could seize ships that did not pay taxes to the state. Virginia did not mean ships from England and Spain. It meant ships from Maryland, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. James Madison often said most of the new nation's political problems grew out of such commercial problems.

In the seventeen eighties, many people in America and Europe believed the United States was on the road to anarchy. One sign was the money system. There was no national money. Many Americans thought of money as the pounds and shillings of the British system. There was an American dollar. But it did not have the same value everywhere. In New York, the dollar was worth eight shillings. In South Carolina, it was worth more than thirty-two shillings. This situation was bad enough.

Yet there also were all kinds of other coins used as money: French crowns, Spanish doubloons, European ducats. In seventeen eighty-six, representatives from Maryland and Virginia met to discuss opening land for new settlements along the Potomac River. The Potomac formed the border between those two states. The representatives agreed that the issue of settling new land was too big for just two states to decide.

Someone else said all the states should be invited.

  1. Large numbers of American volunteers rushed into service, and helped stop the British offensive.
  2. Jefferson again found it necessary to use government powers, this time to protect American shipping. Each branch received powers and duties that ensured that the other branches would not have too much power.
  3. There were thirteen governments. This time, the United States and France reached a peaceful settlement.
  4. At about that time, French warships began attacking American merchant vessels. In 1793, France went to war against Britain and Spain.

Then they could discuss all the problems that were giving the new nation so much trouble. The idea was accepted. And a convention was set for Annapolis, Maryland. The convention opened as planned. It was not much of a meeting. Representatives came from only five states. Four other states had chosen representatives, but they did not come. The remaining four states did not even choose representatives. The men who did meet at Annapolis, however, agreed it was a beginning.

They agreed, too, that a larger convention should be called. They appointed the representative from New York, Alexander Hamilton, to put the agreement in writing. So Hamilton sent a message to the legislature of each state. He called for a convention in Philadelphia in May of the next year, seventeen eighty-seven. The purpose of the convention, he said, would be to write a constitution for the United States. Many people believed the convention would not succeed without George Washington.

  • But he always knew what he wanted to say;
  • That will be our story next week;
  • But since the federal government could not collect taxes, it was unable to pay the debt and put the country on a sound economic footing;
  • Jefferson and his followers, who included many Southerners, finally agreed to support some of Hamilton's financial proposals;
  • Finally, on June 21, 1788, New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify;
  • The government even lacked the means for raising money to provide for national defence.

But General Washington did not want to go. He suffered from rheumatism. His mother and sister were sick. He needed to take care of business at his farm, Mount Vernon. And he already said he was not interested in public office.

American History Series: After the Revolution, the Nation Faces a Weak Political System

How would it look if -- as expected -- he was elected president of the convention? George Washington was the most famous man in America. Suppose only a few states sent representatives to the convention? Would he look foolish? So he said he would go as one of the representatives of Virginia.

From that moment, it was clear the convention would be an important event. If George Washington would be there, it had to be important. The first man to arrive in Philadelphia for the convention was James Madison. Madison was thirty-five years old. He was short and was losing his hair.

He was not a good speaker. But he always knew what he wanted to say. He had read everything that had been published in English about governments, from the governments of ancient Greece to those of his own time.