A need for a stronger union was something that Congress felt was needed at the beginning of the American Revolution. The Articles of Confederation were actually first proposed by Benjamin Franklin and they were the first attempt at creating a constitution for the colonies. The creation of the Articles of Confederation spanned a long period of time and began before the Declaration of Independence, but did not become written in full until November 15, 1777. Before you decide for yourself if the Articles of Confederation were beneficial to the colonies, it is important to take a closer look at both the pros and cons. Understanding why the Articles of Confederation were written and what they were designed to achieve can give you a clearer viewpoint.
Pros of the Articles of Confederation
1. Breaking Away from Tyranny
The tyranny that the colonies suffered from under the rule of British King George III is what the American colonies were looking to escape. The new government that would take power was striving to protect the colonies from world domination or rule. The Articles of Confederation were specifically designed to halt tyranny and lean toward a government rule that did not interfere with the lives of citizens directly. This meant that the federal government at the time had no real power over the states. For example, making people pay taxes was not something that the government in America could impose. Another aspect of the Articles of Confederation was the inability for changes to be made without the approval and consent of congress as a whole.
Cons of the Articles of Confederation
Even though the Articles of confederation were designed to make tyranny a thing of the past, they still were too lax in establishing a central government that had control. This meant that states still had the ability to act on their own. There was one major benefit of no tyranny provided by the Articles of confederation, but there were many disadvantages to this document.
1. Risk of Anarchy
Even though the main goal of the Articles of Confederation was to protect against tyranny, there was still not enough power given to the government for it to function. This led to states acting separately and doing what they wanted without a central authority. All decision making was left entirely in the hands of congress due to the lack of executive or judicial branches. Whenever states were not satisfied with the rules put in place, they would ultimately threaten to succeed from the union leading to a prevalence of anarchy.
2. Weak government
Another major flaw of the Articles of Confederation was the failure to establish a strong government. Congress was given the power to rule due to the Articles of Confederation, but they did not have the appropriate tools to do so effectively. Without the tools to rule the power was mostly nonexistent. This lack of power that the government had almost had devastating effects resulting in the loss of independence for America. This did not take place, but it very well could have due to the little power that the government had. Funding the Revolutionary war was difficult due to the inability for congress to collect taxes. No executive branch existed to enforce the laws that congress had the power to pass. This meant that states acted on their own. A lack of court system was also a major downside to the Articles of confederation.
3. Amendments Required Unanimous Vote
The final nail in the coffin of the Articles of Confederation was the requirement that amendments to the Articles must obtain unanimous vote. This is pretty impossible to achieve and left congress without the power to make any real changes.
What Were the Articles of Confederation Designed to Achieve?
A stronger central authority of government is what the founding fathers were looking to achieve with the creation of the Articles of Confederation. There was a real fear of a central authority, but the union on its own seemed like thirteen independent polities. Wartime urgency is what spurred on the Articles of Confederation. There was a real need for a national feeling of togetherness. The first version was written by Benjamin Franklin in 1775, but the final version was not completed until 1777.