Articles of Confederation
The Articles of Confederation was the first
constitution of the United States of America. The Articles
of Confederation were first drafted by the Continental
Congress in Philadelphia Pennsylvania in 1777. This first
draft was prepared by a man named John Dickinson in 1776.
The Articles were then ratified in 1781. The cause for the
changes to be made was due to state jealousies and
widespread distrust of the central authority. This jealousy
then led to the emasculation of the document.
As adopted, the articles provided only for a "firm
league of friendship" in which each of the 13 states
expressly held "its sovereignty, freedom, and independence." ...view middle of the document...
Second, Congress had no power to tax. Instead,
it was to assess its expenses and divide those among the
states on the basis of the value of land. States were then
to tax their own citizens to raise the money for these
expenses and turn the proceeds over to Congress. They could
not be forced to do so, and in practice they rarely met
their obligations. Third, Congress lacked the power to
control commerce--without its power to conduct foreign
relations was not necessary, since most treaties except
those of peace were concerned mainly with trade. The fourth
weakness ensured the demise of the Confederation by making
it too difficult to correct the first three. Amendments
could have corrected any of the weaknesses, but amendments
required approval by all 13 state legislatures. None of the
several amendments that were proposed met that requirement.
On the days from September 11, 1786 to September
14, 1786, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Virginia
had a meeting of there delegates at the Annapolis
Convention. Too few states were represented to carry out the
original purpose of the meeting--to discuss the regulation
of interstate commerce--but there was a larger topic at
question, specifically, the weakness of the Articles of
Confederation. Alexander Hamilton successfully proposed
that the states be invited to send delegates to Philadelphia
to render the constitution of the Federal Government
adequate to the exigencies of the Union." As a result, the
Constitutional Convention was held in May 1787.