The Articles of Confederation: An Overview

1. Introduction

The Articles of Confederation was the first constitutional document of the United States, adopted in 1777. In spite of the fact that the Articles of Confederations defined the Congress as a national legislature with limited powers, it did not determine the form of government of the states, which led to a loose confederation. The states acted independently from each other and the federal government, which caused problems in commerce, foreign affairs, and interstate relations. As a result, in 1787-1788 the Convention was held in Philadelphia to revise the Articles of Confederation. The new Constitution of the United States of America was ratified in 1788 and came into effect in 1789.

2. The Articles of Confederation: an overview

2.1 Constitutional principles

The Articles of Confederation were based on several key constitutional principles:
– Federalism: The division of powers between the federal and state governments. The Articles granted most powers to the state legislatures, while creating a weak central government with a unicameral legislature (Congress).
– Separation of Powers: The three branches of government (legislative, executive, and judicial) are separate and independent from each other.
– Checks and Balances: Each branch has checks and balances over the other two branches to prevent any one branch from having too much power.
– Popular Sovereignty: The people are the ultimate source of political power.

2. 2 Ratification and implementation

The Articles of Confederation were ratified by all thirteen states in 1781. They were not put into effect until March 1, 1781, when the first Congress met under the Articles. The Articles remained in effect until they were replaced by the Constitution in 1789.

3. The Articles of Confederation in practice: nullification and secession

3.1 Nullification

Nullification is the act of a state declaring federal law to be unconstitutional and void within its borders. It was a doctrine used by the states to claim supremacy over the federal government. The theory was first put forth by Thomas Jefferson in the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, and was later used by John C. Calhoun in the South Carolina Exposition and Protest of 1828-1832. Nullification was used as a justification for secession by South Carolina in 1860.

3. 2 Secession

Secession is the act of a state withdrawing from the Union. It is the opposite of nullification, and was used as a justification for secession by eleven southern states in 1860-1861. The Civil War (1861-1865) was fought over the issue of secession, with the Union (northern) states victorious.

4. Conclusion

The Articles of Confederation were the first constitutional document of the United States, adopted in 1777. In spite of the fact that the Articles of Confederations defined the Congress as a national legislature with limited powers, it did not determine the form of government of the states, which led to a loose confederation. The states acted independently from each other and the federal government, which caused problems in commerce, foreign affairs, and interstate relations. As a result, in 1787-1788 the Convention was held in Philadelphia to revise the Articles of Confederation. The new Constitution of the United States of America was ratified in 1788 and came into effect in 1789.

FAQ

The Articles of Confederation was the first constitution of the United States. It was ratified in 1781 and provided a loose framework for the federal government.

Some states felt the need to nullify or secede from the Union because they were unhappy with the way the federal government was handling certain issues. They felt that their state governments could do a better job of addressing these issues.

The Articles of Confederation contributed to this feeling among some states by giving them more power than the federal government. This made it difficult for the federal government to address problems effectively.

Some of the specific issues that led states to consider nullification or secession included slavery, taxes, and trade regulations.

If the United States had adopted a different form of government under the Articles of Confederation, things might have been different. For example, if there had been a stronger central government, it might have been able to address problems more effectively and prevent states from seceding.