Articles of Confederation


2-16-04


Mid-term Exam


What makes a perfect union? Is it every person having an equal voice? What constitutes a free society? Is it just our basic civil rights? In this essay I will discuss politics in general, the Articles of Confederation, Shay’s Rebellion, the Constitutional Convention and the Great Compromise, amending the Constitution and the amendments, several important supreme court rulings, and the influence of polling.


Yourdictionary.com describes politics as “The art or science of government or governing, especially the governing of a political entity, such as a nation, and the administration and control of its internal and external affairs.” I think most people would be surprised to hear politics described as an art or a science. I believe it to be much more a science than an art. Well educated and highly opinionated men test ideas in their courthouses and laboratories. Sometimes an important challenge arises and many experts scramble for a solution.


The articles of confederation were basically an early constitution, laying down the most important ideas but lacking in important detail. One important lacking detail being that the articles, while helping to ensure the states stayed together, didn’t unify the states economically. Another important lacking detail was that it didn’t require the individual states to pay the necessary revenue to defend the state against the Spanish and British, nor to defend itself from armed rebels.


In 1774 our country faced a serious depression because weakness of the Articles of Confederation. The states fought each other by taxing each others goods and sometimes stopping trade altogether. This depression got so bad the banks had to stop giving loans and start calling on citizens to pay their debt. Anyone who couldn’t pay was charged and imprisoned. In august 1786, led by a former revolutionary captain Daniel Shays a band of musket wielding farmers stormed the courthouses and interrupted trials of individuals being prosecuted for not paying debts. This event proved for most that the articles did not adequately provide for the military and police to enforce our ideals.



The Virginia legislature called for a meeting of all the states in Maryland, on Sept. 11, 1786 to discuss commercial problems caused by the Articles. At this meeting a call was issued for a general convention in Philadelphia “to discuss the exigencies of the union” in may, 1787. This would later be known as the Constitutional convention. The Virginia delegates had arrived early and already had the Virginia plan completed when George Washington opened the convention. It called for creation of an unspecified national executive elected by the legislature and national judiciary appointed by the legislature. It also called for a bicameral legislature, a lower house being chosen by the people, and a smaller upper house consisting of representatives from each state. Each state would send a number of representatives proportional to the states population, giving favor to the larger states.


On June 15th 1787 William Paterson of New Jersey offered the New Jersey plan, a not so drastic change basically enforcing the articles main principal of one state, one vote, and amending it to give congress more power. With tension between the small states and the large states building, Roger Sherman of Connecticut offers a compromise.


He put forth the idea of a bicameral legislature in which the house of representatives consists of a number of representatives proportional to the number of free inhabitants in each state. Furthermore the compromise would call for an upper house, or the senate, which would have two representatives from each state elected by the legislature. The small and large states had come to a mutually beneficial agreement.


The Constitution is a very flexible document depending on what part of it you are trying to bend. Furthermore some officials can do more bending than others. For example the president is given no authority by the constitution to propose bills, but presidents have proposed hundreds of bills each year since 1913. The constitution also gives the president no authority to make war without the consent of congress, but he does and is not the first president to try. Judges can bend the constitution. Although it is not specifically granted by the Constitution, Judicial Review can be used as a tool to change the constitution. Judicial Review is the power of